Books by Lyn
My next YA novel, due out in May 2024, is Eyes Open, a verse novel set in Portugal in the 1960s during the right-wing Salazar dictatorship. It features Sónia, who dreams of writing poems and children’s books illustrated by her rebel boyfriend Zé Miguel, a print shop apprentice to whom she dedicates her poems. But when Zé Miguel is arrested for anti-government activities and the fado restaurant owned by Sónia’s family is shut down for hiring a banned singer who sang a banned song, she is forced to leave school and work a grueling, dangerous job in a hotel laundry. There, she discovers the difference between writing poems to honor a hero and stepping up to become a hero. I researched most of this book during the years I lived part-time in Portugal, and my research appears in many blog posts such as this one. Eyes Open will launch around the time of the fiftieth anniversary of the Carnation Revolution that ended the 48-year dictatorship.
My debut picture book, Ways to Play, launched in August 2023. Illustrated by Gabriel Alborozo and published by Levine Querido, it’s the story of Riley, an autistic child whose bossy older cousin thinks she knows the right way to play with toys. Riley has other ideas, but is having difficulty convincing the cousins until beloved dog Charlie lends a paw. The book, for readers aged 3 to 7, received a starred review from Kirkus, which praises the “spare first-person narration” and artwork’s “nostalgic charm.”
In addition to Eyes Open, I have eight published books for middle grade and teen readers. After more than seven years, I returned to my favorite genre, YA historical fiction, with my fall 2022 novel Torch. The novel is set in communist Czechoslovakia in 1969, in the wake of the Soviet invasion the previous year that crushed the pro-democracy movement known as the Prague Spring. Torch follows three misfit teens — Štepán, Lída, and Tomáš — from a town in the country’s north who find themselves in the crosshairs of the secret police when the boy each considered their best friend sets himself on fire to protest foreign occupation and the destruction of their freedom and their future. Torch is the 2023 Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature. It is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection and has received four starred reviews.
April is both Autism Acceptance Month and National Poetry Month, which is why I have two books that released in April 2022. The first is the 16th title in the acclaimed She Persisted series of chapter books conceived and co-authored by Chelsea Clinton and based on her picture books with Alexandra Boiger. Illustrated by Gillian Flint, She Persisted: Temple Grandin explores the life of the animal scientist and autism advocate whose research has improved the way we treat farm animals and led to greater understanding of autism and autistic individuals.
Co-authored with the award-winning poet and novelist Zetta Elliott, the verse novel Moonwalking is set in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn in fall 1982. It portrays the unlikely friendship between Afro-Latinx science geek and aspiring graffiti artist Pierre “Pie” Velez and autistic white punk rock enthusiast Joseph John “JJ” Pankowski as their love of art helps them through difficult times in a world that seeks to silence them. Moonwalking has received five starred reviews and is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.
My next 2022 book is also a co-authored work, as I enjoy collaborating with other authors who make me a better writer. Film Makers: 15 Groundbreaking Women Directors is part of Chicago Review Press’s Women of Power series. Co-authored with Tanisia “Tee” Moore, this collective biography is her YA debut and an exciting presentation of the lives and work of a diverse group of living women filmmakers from the United States and around the world. Each of the women shares a common trait; in the words of Shonda Rhimes, “First. Only. Different.” Film Makers came out in September 2022, just in time for the blockbuster fall movie season.
In 2009, Curbstone Press published my YA novel Gringolandia, now available through Northwestern University Press. Gringolandia was selected for the American Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults list in 2010 and the Bank Street College Best Children’s Books list that same year. It received an IPPY Gold Medal from the Independent Publishers Association in the Children’s Multicultural category and an Américas Award Honorable Mention from the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs.
Surviving Santiago (Running Press Teen), is the companion to Gringolandia, little sister Tina’s turn to tell her story! In 1989, Tina returns to Chile. There, she meets a handsome, motorcycle-riding boy her age, but his presence in her life is far from innocent and danger awaits the young couple. Surviving Santiago won a Moonbeam Award Gold Medal, given to outstanding small press and indie-published books, in the YA Historical/Cultural Fiction category and was included on the 2016 Bank Street College Best Children’s Books list, 14 and up.
My previous novel, published in 2013, is Rogue (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin), the story of a socially awkward eighth grade girl whose desire for a friend leads her to two neighbor boys in peril and some dangerous choices of her own. Rogue was a Junior Library Guild selection in the middle school literature category. It was on the Truman list, the state award list in Missouri, and has been selected by various middle schools as a “One Book, One School” read.
I also edited Once Upon a Cuento, a collection of short stories for young readers by 14 established and emerging Latino authors, published by Curbstone Press in 2003.