Five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . . Ignition —
Houston, we have a winner! *deafening cheers*
WINNIE’S WAR by Jenny Moss (Walker, 2009),
Young Adult Historical Fiction, 192 pp.
A first book is a very special cause for celebration. For an author, this particular milestone, of seeing your work in tangible form for the first time, finally launched into the world, is surreal, nerve-wracking, and exhilirating all at the same time. I’m proud of and thrilled for Jenny, and can’t wait to read her book!
Life in Winnie’s sleepy town of Coward Creek, Texas, is just fine for her. Although her troubled mother’s distant behavior has always worried Winnie, she’s plenty busy caring for her younger sisters, going to school, playing chess with Mr. Levy, and avoiding her testy grandmother. Plus, her sweetheart Nolan is always there to make her smile when she’s feeling low. But when the Spanish Influenza claims its first victim, lives are suddenly at stake, and Winnie has never felt so helpless. She must find a way to save the people she loves most, even if doing so means putting her own life at risk.
So far, Winnie’s War has received glowing reviews praising its lyrical prose and strong characterizations. Kirkus said, "the first person narrative beautifully captures Winnie’s voice," and Publisher’s Weekly said, "First-novelist Moss brings poetic language to this story, skillfully mirroring the internal pains and afflictions of influenza in the landscape of Texas."
Jenny, who lives in Clear Lake, Texas, says she enjoyed researching how the Spanish Flu Epidemic impacted the area, and imagining what life was like back in 1918. I’m especially anxious to get to know Winnie, to see how she handles loss and hardship, and meets the many challenges set before her, especially when she cannot rely on her parents and must sort out who her real allies are.
Now, please join me in slurping your congratulations to Jenny on a striking debut. Today, we’re serving a fortified, anti-influenza soup, scientifically maintained at an optimal temperature. It will keep you especially robust while you read this book. Just open your mouth and say, "Ah, Jenny!"
Today’s Special: Germ-free Gumbo (a couple spoonfuls will prepare you for anything).
There’s also a good interview with Cynthea Liu at Writing for Children and Teens, and an article from the Bay Area Citizen, which includes interesting personal details — such as Jenny’s background as a NASA flight design engineer and what prompted her to pursue writing.