Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted on Feb 19, 2024 in Blog, Portugal, Writing

The Stars Appear Early for Eyes Open

The Stars Appear Early for Eyes Open

For me, one of the most stressful aspects of a new book’s launch is the reviewers. Some people worry about preorders, which I should probably worry about too because they build buzz and indicate to the publisher how many copies they should print. But I don’t have tons of friends or hordes of social media followers at my command, nor do I have the money to mail swag to people who send me proof that they’ve preordered my book. (On second thought, I do have these small but sturdy “I Stand With Ukraine” stickers that I can send to the first ten people who either preorder Eyes Open or buy a copy of Torch.) Instead, I seek to write the best book I can write and hope the critical reception is sufficient to encourage schools and libraries to buy the book, at which point people will read it, fall in love with it, and tell all their friends to read it.

My first ever presale giveaway, which is also available to anyone who buys a copy of Torch. Please contact me via my contact page for rules and the email to send your proof of purchase receipt. First 10 only until I restock.

For that reason, starred reviews in trade journals are important to me, because they indicate both the quality and significance of the book. I was fortunate and grateful that both Moonwalking and Torch received multiple starred reviews and ended up on trade journals’ best of year lists. Pardalita, which I didn’t write or illustrate but rather translated from Portuguese to English, also garnered four starred reviews and my first ALA Youth Media Award.

Eyes Open won’t be published until May 7 of this year, but I’m thrilled and honored that it has already received two starred reviews! And it’s only mid-February. Booklist was the first, with a review that concluded:

Beautifully and fluidly written, Miller-Lachmann’s memorable verse novel captures the setting splendidly, dramatizing the abysmal condition of women under the dictatorship. A fine novel for classroom use and independent reading.

A week later Kirkus weighed in, with:

The verse format allows Sónia’s poetic voice to shine, drawing readers into the stark reality she’s dealing with. Although her head can be clouded by wine and soft kisses, she knows her own mind and speaks up … Conveys harshness, beauty — and lingering hope.

I’m especially pleased with the recognition of Sónia’s voice, as conveyed by the poetry, because voice is so important to young adult literature and in the past I’ve received rejections from publishers because my voice “doesn’t stand out in a crowded marketplace.” Voice is a tough thing to teach and learn and developing a strong voice comes with both practice and truly getting inside the head of a character. I’ve lived with Sónia since 2015, when I started writing another YA novel from the point of view of her boyfriend’s older sister who was trying to break up their relationship out of loyalty to Sónia’s older sister, her erstwhile best friend. That manuscript never found a home, in large part because my narrator Rosália’s voice wasn’t distinctive or appealing enough. I must admit that Sónia has a lot more spunk, and especially humor, than Rosália, who barely gets a mention in Eyes Open and only because of a breakup that could perhaps be considered poetic justice (or maybe just flat-out mean-girl).

Anyway, I’m excited for the arrival of Eyes Open, which coincides with the 50-year anniversary of the Carnation Revolution that ended the dictatorship in Portugal and brought an enduring democracy to that country. Eyes Open shows how difficult it is to effect change in a dictatorship, where the rulers have no reason to listen to ordinary people because they can simply put in prison anyone who disagrees with them. Or worse, as we’ve seen this week with the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a bleak prison north of the Arctic Circle. At a time when women’s rights in the United States are rapidly eroding and voters are considering returning to office a man who has promised to make himself a dictator and crush all opposition, Eyes Open is especially timely, showing what daily life is like in a place without freedom.


  1. Lyn, congratulations on your starred reviews. I am not surprised that you received them. And of course you will come on my blog and talk about it!

    • Thank you! I will definitely come onto your blog and looking forward to it!

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.