Thursday, January 14, 2016

Congratulations to Ashley Hope Pérez!

It's been quite a week for Carolrhoda Lab™! On Monday, Ashley Hope Pérez's Out of Darkness received a Printz Honor at the ALA Youth Media Awards. The Printz Award and Honors are given to the best of the best in YA literature, and to be recognized by the committee is quite an achievement.


Ashley missed two calls from the committee on Sunday, as she was giving a paper at MLA's annual convention in Austin. 

"I actually had to return the call, which I did while watching people pass outside in the city where I was a college student at UT [University of Texas at Austin] a long time ago." Ashley said of getting the news. 

"My first thought was how excited my five-year-old son would be that I now have a 'sticker' on my book."

For those of you who have yet to read Out of Darkness, it's the story of Naomi Vargas, a young Latina living in New London in 1937. Set against the backdrop of the New London school explosion, one the worst school tragedies in American history, Out of Darkness is a brutal and gripping novel about race, segregation, love, and the forces that destroy people. 

In honor of the Printz Honor, here's a roundup of guest posts and Q&As with Ashley about how Out of Darkness came to be (all quotes are Ashley's): 
  • Q&A with ShelfLife@Texas: "Some people have suggested that Out of Darkness is a 'brave' book, but I think it’s equally important to acknowledge that reading about painful features of our past takes courage."
  • Article on NBC Latino: "Hope can reside in a lot of places. . . . I want readers to take responsibility for finding hope even in a really dark world."
  • Q&A with Latin@s in Kid Lit: "Sometimes describing that physical beauty [of East Texas] was a bit of a reprieve from the harshness of my characters’ circumstances. And I think I even managed to fall a bit in love with Wash myself."
  • Guest post on Actin' Up with Books: "The cover of Out of Darkness is stunning, but more important than its beauty is the fact that it so fully captures the feel of the story."
  • Behind-the-scenes look at the making of Out of Darkness on Cynsations: "There was some serious cutting, reshaping, and expanding that happened over those years [of revision] . . ."
  • Q&A with Brazos Bookstore: "I write YA because it gives me access to smart, savvy readers who happen to be teens."
In addition to the Printz Honor, Out of Darkness has received the following accolades:
  • A starred review from Kirkus Reviews
  • A starred review from School Library Journal
  • A Kirkus Best Books of the Year selection
  • A School Library Journal Best Book of 2015
  • A YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults pick
But in Ashley's oldest son's mind, she has yet to really start writing. "He's shared with me his deep hope that someday I'd write a 'real' book, by which he means one with pictures," she said. 

And who knows? Perhaps Ashley will one day write a "real" book. 

You can buy Out of Darkness on our website, on Indiebound, on Barnes & Noble, on Amazon, or by asking your local bookstore if they've got a copy in stock.

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