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The Bennington Bookshop      June 2015

 Vermont's oldest independent bookstore

Summer is here!

Welcome to our June Newsletter! In this edition, we feature an interview with Peggy Kern, author of Little Peach, nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Fiction For Young Adults book for 2015. It is also a Junior Library Guild selection. We also have a review of the book. We are excited to include a review of The Nightmarys by Grade 10 student Aubreanna-Rose Petit. We also introduce Vaughn's Reading Formula - thanks to Vaughn Morrison for sharing this wonderful concept! And no summer edition of the newsletter would be complete without an update on our Best Books for Summer, a list of books created from suggestions for summer reading made by our Facebook friends. Happy reading everyone!

Little Peach by local author Peggy Kern
Reviewed by Phil


“What do you do if you’re in trouble?” Michelle’s grandfather drills the advice into her. “Find a cop. Find a lady.
 
Michelle lives in Philadelphia with her grandfather and her drug-addicted mother. When her grandfather dies, the attentions of her mother’s latest boyfriend cause Michelle to run. She spends the last of her money on a bus ticket to New York where she hopes to catch up with an old school friend, Erica. Erica lives in the notorious Pink Houses project.
 
Michelle is overwhelmed by her first exposure to New York. Hungry, and out of money, she does not know where to turn.
 
Devon is a friendly smile amongst all the strangers in the busy bus station. He offers Michelle a meal, and drives her out to the Pink Houses, where Michelle quickly realizes that there is little hope of finding her friend. At a loss for a place to stay, she finally agrees to go back to Devon’s place on Coney Island. Here, she meets Kat and Baby, and is quickly initiated into the world of drugs and prostitution. Devon is her “daddy”, and she is his “Little Peach”.
 
In researching the material for the book, Kern spent time with a New York detective, and interviewed two survivors of child prostitution extensively. The result is an authentic picture of the horrors of human trafficking. Kern handles the abuse and drug addiction deftly; her depiction of these is never gratuitous. This compelling novel is a wake up call to all of us about how easily the vulnerable are exploited.


Note: Peggy will be reading from her book at The Bennington Bookshop on Monday, June 20th. We'll be serving refreshments, so come along for a great evening out.
In her own words: Local author Peggy Kern
On writing fiction for young adults: I write young adult fiction because I have tremendous respect for kids. I think we underestimate teenagers, who often have more passion and moral clarity than adults. It is incredibly hard to be a teenager, and books can help kids make sense of the world.

On her motivation for writing Little Peach: A few years ago, I stumbled across the documentary Very Young Girls. This was my first real exposure to the crisis of child sex trafficking in the U.S. I was devastated by what I learned. I had no idea this was happening in our country. I wept and wept and finally decided to write a book about the issue. It was very important to me to be as accurate as possible, to tell the story from the viewpoint of a victim starting from when she was child, because that’s when the tragedy begins for these girls. I wanted to show how poverty, together with failing social safety nets like our public schools, juvenile care facilities, and criminal justice system, contribute to the trafficking of minors. Pimps are certainly villains, but there are deeper issues, too. So I began spending time with sex workers in Brooklyn and learning more about their world and lives. My motivation is to shed light on this crisis and give voice to the victims, who are rarely – if ever – heard.

On Miracle and Jen, the women she interviewed for her research: Unfortunately, I am not in contact with Miracle or Jen. They put themselves at great risk by speaking with me. I would not want to endanger them further by contacting them now. I don’t know if they’ve read the book, but I hope so. They were my guides, my mentors, my educators. They taught me what Little Peach should be about.

On what can we do to address the issue of child-trafficking: This is a hard question – it’s the question - and I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer it. It’s frustrating because the issues are so large: poverty, economics, racism, sexism, apathy. It takes a whole society to create the conditions that crush girls like Peach, along with their entire communities. 
 
Consider the suffering of young girls forced into the sex trade. In the U.S., the average age of entry into prostitution is 13 years old. Too often, victims are seen as immoral, or worse – they are not seen at all. Girls like Little Peach matter – they matter as much as any of us. They are the daughters of America. We should fight for them in every way we can.
 
I want to say that “awareness” is a starting point – and it is, I suppose – but awareness doesn’t save lives. Awareness doesn’t give victims a safe place to go. Awareness doesn’t rescue anybody.

So, my first suggestion is to find non-profits like the Girls Educational and Mentoring Service (GEMS) that are on the ground, fighting for victims. Ask them what they need from you, and give as much as you can. Also, talk about these girls. Don’t forget about them. If you read Little Peach, share your copy with a friend.


On her next book: I don’t want to jinx myself by saying too much, but it deals with the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s.

On a favorite book: The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz is a favorite of mine. I loved the narrative voice, which is so real and accessible. Oscar Wao reminds me to be brave on the page, to not flinch, and to tell the truth.

On a recent read: I recently finished Citizen by Claudia Rankine, which is a prose-poetry narrative of racism in America. It is absolute genius.

On advice for aspiring writers: Don’t waste your time writing about topics you’re not passionate about. It takes a lot of stamina to write a book. Your passion will keep you going – and it will also spill onto the page (an added bonus!).

Blog post: Here's a link to a blog post Peggy did for the Children's Book Council about her research: http://www.cbcdiversity.com/post/113277991610/getting-it-right
Student review
Each month, we ask local school students to submit reviews of the books they are reading. We select one of these for publication in the newsletter. The reviewer receives a $10 gift certificate for The Bennington Bookshop. This month's review is from Aubreanna-Rose Petit. Congratulations Aubreanna-Rose!

The Nightmarys - Dan Poblocki
Reviewed by Aubreanna-Rose Petit, Grade 10

If you want to be scared senseless in your nightmares, or you want to read a book with brilliant writing and pure horror authenticity, The NightMarys by Dan Poblocki would be your best choice. This book is about two children who come together after many horrifying events and nightmares to solve a town’s ancient mystery involving a professor (a supposed cult-member to the Daughter of Chaos) who lured a young victim to be his sacrifice to the goddess. With plenty of horror, mystery, and a hint of dark comedy, Poblocki’s greatest work of horror will have you clinging for dear life to your bed sheets and stuffed animals as you go on this heart-pulsing, blood-churning horror ride. Aubreanna-Rose Petit

Submissions: The decision of The Bennington Bookshop in selecting which reviews to publish in the newsletter is final. Other entries may be published on The Bennington Bookshop website. The Bennington Bookshop reserves the right to edit entries as necessary. By submitting a review, reviewers agree to these terms. Please submit reviews to phil@benningtonbookshop.com
Best Books for Summer
Our "Best Books for Summer" list continues to grow - we now have thirty recommendations for summer reading. I can see I will have to take some time off to lie in a hammock under the apple trees and catch up on my reading! Thanks to all our friends for suggestions. Everyone who nominates a book will go into a draw for a gift certificate from The Bennington Bookshop. So keep those recommendations coming in to phil@benningtonbookshop.com. The draw will take place on June 21st. You can find the full list of books here: http://www.benningtonbookshop.com/best-books-summer
Vaughn's Reading Formula
Picture this: You’re reading a book, but it hasn’t quite grabbed you. You read a page or two, then put it down and think of something else to do. But it’s your reading hour. Almost reluctantly, you pick up the book again. You don’t want to read any more of it, but have a strange feeling of guilt about not finishing it, of not doing it justice, somehow. It’s almost like throwing away food: terribly wasteful. Perhaps the book gets better in the next chapter, you persuade yourself. You read a couple more pages, sigh, and put it down. The lawn needs mowing. Things are really bad when you’d rather mow the lawn than read a book. But it starts raining, postponing the weekly ride on the mower, and it’s back to the book. On the shelves across the room, the stacks of unread books call to you: Read me! Read me instead! But you soldier on… The book takes ten days to finish, rather than your usual day or two. And it never did get any better.
 
Ever had this feeling? So, how can you justify putting aside a book before you’ve finished it? Vaughn’s Reading Formula should help! This is not some grand Einsteinian theory of the universe, just a simple way to decide you have given a book a good try without feeling guilty about not finishing it. Here it is:

 
100 - (Age in Years) = Number of pages to read
 
So, if you’re 45, for example, you subtract that from 100, leaving 55. If you read 55 pages of a book and it still hasn’t grabbed you, you’re safe to put it aside. The beauty of Vaughn’s formula is that the older you get, the less you have to read before putting a book aside and starting a new one! After all, life is too short to spend on a book you’re not enjoying. Thanks Vaughn!
 
I am still not sure what happens when you pass 100 years of age...
Book sale
We have a selection of books on sale - 40% off. Recent releases in hardcover - fiction, biography, art, cookbooks, Young Adult, and more. Come in and check out the sale!
Coming up...
June 22nd, 7.00pm -
A Conversation with Peggy Kern
The Bennington Bookshop
Peggy Kern reads from her novel Little Peach.
Refreshments provided.


July 18th, 10am -
Local author Kimalie Wassick reads from her Basil and Prune the Pug series of children's books.
The Bennington Bookshop
Come along and join in the fun as Kim shares the hilarious adventures of Basil and her dog Prune!
Note: Kim's books are available through the bookshop, but not through our online ordering system. If you'd like to order copies, please contact the bookshop.


July 20th, 7.00pm -
A Conversation with Ed Rubin
Bennington Free Library
Ed Rubin talks about his new book Vermont: An outsider's inside view
Co-sponsored by the Bennington Free Library and The Bennington Bookshop.


"Emmy award-winning art director and international award-winning fine art photographer Edward L. Rubin has created a stunning visual portrait of the people and landscapes of contemporary Vermont. Rubin has photographed everyone from the Governor to goat farmers, artists, mechanics, supreme court justices, waitresses, and activists in beautiful color and black and white photographs revealing life in the Green Mountain State from the unique perspective of an outsider who has been invited to join in and record privileged, private moments. His images reveal that there are still places in America where people know each other deeply, help each other freely, and are bound to each other in heart, mind, and community." Fine Arts Press
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