Friendship and Family: Character Growth in YA

Thursday, October 15th, 1:00 pm

The relationships we build in our teenage years—with our friends, our families, and everyone in between—can shape the person we turn out to be in ways we never expect. Three YA authors discuss their new books and how, across genres, our connections with others help us grow. Featuring  Eric Gansworth (Apple: (Skin to the Core)),  Lamar Giles (Not So Pure and Simple), and Justin A. Reynolds (Early Departures). Moderated by Donell Clauser.

Replay of this event is available throughout 2020!

Purchase books by these authors from Red Balloon Bookshop!

photo by Dellas

Eric Gansworth is Lowery Writer-in-Residence and Professor of English at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY and was recently NEH Distinguished Visiting Professor at Colgate University. His books include the novels Mending Skins (Pen Oakland Award) and Extra Indians (American Book Award, NAISA Book of the Year); the young adult novel If I Ever Get Out of Here (American Indian Library Association Young Adult Honor selection), and the collection of poems and paintings, A Half-Life of Cardio-Pulmonary Function. His play, Re-Creation Story, was selected for the Public Theater’s Native Theater Festival. His work has been widely shown and anthologized and has appeared in Iroquois Art: Power and HistoryThe Kenyon Review, and Shenandoah, among other places. His multi-media memoir, Apple: (Skin to the Core) comes out in October 2020 from Levine Querido and has already been longlisted for the National Books Award for Young’s People Literature. An enrolled Onondaga, Gansworth was born and raised at the Tuscarora Indian Nation, just outside Niagara Falls, NY. Visit his website at

Lamar Giles writes for teens and adults across multiple genres, with work appearing on numerous Best Of lists every year. He is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Fake IDEndangeredOverturnedSpin, and The Last Last-Day-of-Summer, as well as numerous pieces of short fictionHe is also a founding member of the nonprofit organization We Need Diverse Books. Most recently, he is the author of the YA novel Not So Pure and Simple (Quill Tree Books), which was published in January 2020, and the middle grade science fiction adventureThe Last Mirror on the Left (Versify)forthcoming in October. “Giles is not only adept at storytelling,” wrote Justin A. Reynolds in a review for Not So Pure and Simple, “he understands what makes us human.” Giles resides in Virginia with his wife. Learn more at

Justin A. Reynolds has always wanted to be a writer. Opposite of Always, his debut novel, was an Indies Introduce Top Ten Debut and a School Library Journal Best Book of 2019; has been translated into 17 languages (and counting); and is being developed for film with Paramount Players. His second book, the YA novel Early Departures (Katherine Tegen Books), is being published this September. Kirkus Reviews gave it a starred review and said, “This thoroughly satisfying novel of love, loss, and reconciliation is not to be missed.” Reynolds lives in northeast Ohio with his family. You can also find him at

Donell Clauser is a youth librarian at Wentworth Public Library in Dakota County. She has master’s degrees in library science from Kent State University and in English from Central Michigan University. Donell loves fairy tales, young people, animals, and reading aloud.