This month’s Pub Date “theme” is guest posts which means we’ve all selected a guest blogger to pick a beer and a book. I’ve selected my lovely friend Grace who, in addition to being my friend, is also a childrens book editor at FSG. Here is Grace (in a Powell’s tee shirt!) with beer.
Grace and I met more than eight years ago when I became her roommate. We happily lived as roommates for over five years and in the process became good friends. Grace heroically edited my grad school essays (for which I still owe her beer/food/my first-born child) and is about 87% responsible for me getting into grad school (yay Grace!). We share mutual loves of books, The Dram Shop, sports, and, most importantly, beer. And with that I hand it over to Grace!
Thank you so much for having me—and a special thank-you to Maggie for inviting me. I’ve sipped and shared many awesome beers with her over the years, and our debates (umm discussions) over books have been some of my favorites.
By way of introduction, my name is Grace Kendall, and I’m an editor at Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers, which is an imprint of Macmillan. While the book I’m talking about today wasn’t published by us, it did win a Michael L. Printz Honor for excellence in young adult fiction, among many other accolades. While I read it for that reason alone, I’m recommending it today because I loved it.
The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley (Elephant Rock Books, 2014) is a gritty, beautiful, lyrical coming-of-age story set in the seaside town of Bray, Ireland. Maggie Lynch, a reluctant transplant from Chicago, is a Nirvana devotee at the pinnacle of the grunge era. Her mother has thrown herself into marriage with yet another questionable partner, who happens to be Irish. Thus, Maggie is pulled away from her American home, the charismatic uncle she loves, and all else familiar to the craggy island of Bray. Love, death, Catholic school, a European road-trip, and Kurt Cobain’s fated final concert ensue.
In addition to receiving the Printz Honor, The Carnival at Bray was named an ALA 2015 Top Ten Best Fiction Title for Young Adults, a Chicago Weekly Best Book, and a Kirkus Reviews Best Book. It was also a finalist for the William C. Morris Award and won the Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize of 2014. Here it is on Goodreads.
I’ve decided to pair this novel with Casco Bay Brewing Company’s “Riptide”, which is an Irish Red Ale. The BeerAdvocate Brothers give it a “world-class” rating of 98, and I just really like it. So, admittedly, the Irish link is pretty obvious. But I chose it for several reasons. My family has a cottage on Casco Bay in Maine, where we go for long weekends in the summer. Maine’s coast is breathtaking: dangerous and beautiful. And many of the seaside scenes in The Carnival at Bray reminded me of the wild energy of the Maine Coast at night. The main character, Maggie, is always looking back across the ocean to Chicago, longing for her home. But as her life builds in Bray, the emotional pull back to America becomes muddled. This conflicted gaze—the pushing and pulling of desire—reminded me of the tides of the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea. Maggie’s uncle also struggles with drugs and depression, so the word “riptide” felt eerily applicable on multiple levels.
There are also several important scenes that take place in a classic Irish pub. And while I think of this book as a fall/winter story, pubs often remind me of summer. A cool, dark haven to get away from the sun for a few hours. (To be honest, one might argue that a Maine summer is more like a Mid-Atlantic winter. So the metaphor still works! J ) And if you’re ever in Maine, there’s a good chance Casco Bay’s Riptide will be on tap.
SO, go out and grab a copy of Foley’s wonderful novel, and sit yourself down in the shade with a Riptide or brew of your choice. The heat of the summer sun will swiftly be swept away as you enter Maggie’s world and the wet, windy chill of Ireland’s coast. But the thrill of watching her story unfold—equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful—will stay with you long after your summer day has come to an end.
Thank you so much for playing along, Grace! And thank you for picking a book with a main character named Maggie (we know I love that). Everyone make sure to the books she’s edited including the super exciting upcoming Gertie’s Leap to Greatness (it’s middle grade, but I hear it’s amazing although no one’s sent me a copy yet (nudge, nudge)). And you can find her on Twitter where she shares her highly-entertaining observations and love of sports, among other things.
Make sure to check out my other Pub Dates this month:
One Year Ago: Book Review: Landry Park
Two Years Ago: Book Review: Thousand Words