If you're unfamiliar with the Junior Library Guild, here's some information about this incredible honor from their website, juniorlibraryguild.com:
“The JLG editorial team reviews more than 3,000 new titles each year, in manuscript or prepublication stage. We’ve developed a keen sense for finding the best of the best. Over 95 percent of our selections go on to receive awards and/or favorable reviews.”
I'm ecstatic to share the third starred review for The Steep and Thorny Way, this one from School Library Journal, published in their January 2016 issue.
Winters, Cat. The Steep and Thorny Way. 352p. Abrams/Amulet. Mar. 2016. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781419719158.
Gr 8 Up–There’s something rotten in 1920s Oregon in this Hamlet-inspired tale of a biracial girl seeking the truth about her African American father’s death. When the drunk driver who killed her father is released, Hanalee starts to look more closely at her small town and the folks who live there. She uncovers prejudice, injustice, and serious crimes from some very unexpected sources. This is not humdrum historical fiction as usual. Hanalee is a fantastic lead, armed with a two-barreled pistol and led by the lost soul of her father. Her gumption is inspiring—nothing she is faced with is too scary to make her back down, but her stubbornness doesn’t prevent her from evolving her point of view. Setting Hanalee in the backdrop of Prohibition-era Oregon, punched up with bootleggers, a hidden gay relationship, the public and private face of the Ku Klux Klan, and a dash of the supernatural makes for a delightfully unpredictable page-turner. VERDICT Unique and riveting historical fiction that feels anything but dated.
★ “A fast-paced read with multiple twists, the novel delivers a history lesson wrapped inside a murder mystery and ghost story. Winters deftly captures the many injustices faced by marginalized people in the years following World War I as well as a glimmer of hope for the better America to come. A riveting story of survival, determination, love, and friendship.”
—Kirkus, starred review
★ “A powerful, gripping, and exceptionally well-executed glimpse into a little-known corner of U.S. history.”
—Booklist, starred review
“Cat Winters proves herself the master of YA historical fiction in this richly woven, theatrical tale of haints, friendship, and a time period we don't dare forget.”
—Megan Shepherd, author of The Madman's Daughter series
“Haunting, visceral, and atmospheric, Cat Winters's The Steep and Thorny Way is a fantastic read from one of the best in the genre.”
—Renée Ahdieh, author of The Wrath and the Dawn
“A tale of secrets, murder, intolerance, friendship, and restless spirits, seen through the eyes of the vibrant, truth-seeking, pistol-slinging Hanalee. Marvelous.”
—April Genevieve Tucholke, author of Wink, Poppy, Midnight
“Cat Winters clearly and descriptively depicts a way of life in rural Oregon that most are not aware of . . . The historical accuracy provides a powerful sense of realism.”
Booklist just published a beautiful starred review of The Steep and Thorny Way in their January 1, 2016, issue, and I couldn't be happier. Here's a snippet:
★ “Hanalee’s investigation of her father’s murder and her growing friendship with Joe are engrossing enough, but Winters amplifies the story by weaving Oregon’s troubling true history—state-sanctioned discrimination, eugenics, forced sterilization—throughout the tale, adding weighty, unsettling context to the slow-burning mystery. A powerful, gripping, and exceptionally well-executed glimpse into a little-known corner of U.S. history.” —Sarah Hunter, Booklist
The full review is posted at booklistonline.com. Thanks so much to Booklist for bestowing this honor upon the novel.
If you'd like to read a sneak peek of the first chapter of The Steep and Thorny Way, head to YA Books Central on Friday, January 15, 2016.
Amulet Books will publish the book on March 8, 2016.