Author’s latest strikes at the heart of children’s struggles
For Jupiter author Donna Gephart, “In Your Shoes” was the most difficult of her six books to write.
S h e h a d a n a mbi t i o u s vision of what she wanted to do with it — a story within a stor y, a sc ience-loving, snarky intrusive narrator and a tale told from two distinct points of view that chronicle the grieving process and how friends and family can help get you through the hardest things.
“At one point, I threw out the entire 200-page book I’d written even after I’d gotten revision notes from my editor and started over, struggling to create on the page what I envisioned in my mind,” said Gephart, an award-winning middle-grade novelist. “I’m so glad I put in the time and sweat equity because I couldn’t be happier with the finished book.”
The launch par t y for her newly released book takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at The B ook Cellar, 801 Lake Ave., Lake Worth. There will be sandwiches, drinks, bowling with prizes and a short reading.
In “In Your Shoes,” Amy and Miles don’t realize it when they first meet, but they are exactly what the other needs to help overcome their challenges and prov i de what t he y ne e d to thrive. Living above her u n c l e ’s s o mb e r f u n e r a l home, Amy is filled up by the sounds and lights and love at Miles’ family’s bowling center. And Amy’s penchant for appreciating life and living in the present helps quell Miles’ fears and worries.
“While they seem so different at first, the two are perfect together to help each other navigate loss,” Geph- art said.
Growing up in Philadelphia with divorced parents and a busy working Mom, Gephart was often lonely. She found solace at her neighborhood branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
“I think every book I write is for that girl I was,” Gephart said. “I hope the books I write now provide solace, good company and an emotional road map for young people dealing with life’s inevitable challenges.”
Each of Gephart’s books are filled with humor and heartbreak and with kind, c reative kids strug gling against realistic challenges to reach a worthwhile goal.
Her previous book, “Lily and Dunkin,” follows the start-and-stop friendship between an eighth-grader who i s t r a n s ge n d e r a n d another who’s struggling with mental illness. Reade r s c o me away w i t h a n accept ance for both Lily and Dunkin, and in doing so gain a keen understanding for kids — and adults — who share their struggle.
Gephart said she has great respec t and empathy for young people going through their middle school years. One of her favorite reader emails came from a middle school boy thanking her for “telling it like it really is.”
“It’s a time of transition and turmoil,” Gephart said. “Good books are a wonderful way to provide insight and comfort and direction during those years. It’s an honor, privilege and great responsibility to write for young people at this challenging time in their lives when they have one foot in childhood and the other in adulthood.”
The credit for the clever title of “In Your Shoes” goes to Gephart’s editor, Kelsey Horton, who wanted a title that was accessible to all readers and captured the essence of the story. The previous title was “The Greatest Story Ever Bowled.” Horton, of Delacorte Press/Penguin Random House, sent Gephart the first copy with a shoelace tied around the book.
The owner and manager of The Book Cellar hope to create a memorable book launch party at their store. The manager came up with the idea of games of giantsized bowling with prizes. There will also be sandwiches and beverages as well as Jelly Krimpets — a Philadelphiabased sweet treat the characters enjoy in the book.
“I’m such a fan of inde- pendent bookstores,” Gephart said.
“They’re a vital part of their communities, creating gathering spaces and providing interesting programming and events. So I truly appreciate those who are supporting the launch of my new book and supporting the wonderful independent bookstore, The Book Cellar.”
The Book Cellar’s chief b o o k s e l l e r i s To d d Ke t - cham and the owner is Tami Ayraud. For information, call 561-452-5456.
For Gephart , the book launch will be a culmination of years of creating another tale of children overcoming struggles.
“There will be lots of hugs to go around,” she said.
For more on Gephart, visit her website at donnagephart.com.
Middle-grade novelist Donna Gephart, whose new book was released Tuesday, will have a launch party for “In Your Shoes” Wednesday at The Book Cellar in Lake Worth.
“In Your Shoes” by Donna Gephart.