One-Minute Book Reviews

Click the links below to see the reviews Laura publishes bi-weekly in The Deerfield Valley News.

Destiny Takes a Tour: 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

Coney Island is Under Siege: Undertow by Michael Buckley (Ages 14-adult)

Mephistopheles comes to Vermont: The Devil in the Valley by Castle Freeman Jr.

YA book tackles hard-hitting material: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Can love overcome all obstacles?: Orbiting Jupiter by Gary T. Schmidt

The Pentagon Papers for a new generation: Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin

Imprisonment of small town life: I'll Meet You There, by Heather Demetrios

Treasure all the bright places out there: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

A celebration of exit ramps: Vermont Exit Ramps II, by Neil Shepard and Anthony Reczek

 

 

New Year's Day Interview on VPR

Laura was interviewed on New Year's Day 2016, on Vermont Public Radio during All Things Considered.

You can hear the interview by clicking here.

WBGO in New Jersey ran a slightly different edit of the interview you can hear by clicking here. (The link is midway down the page.)

"The year Elizabeth II was crowned Queen of England and Edmund Hillary conquered Mount Everest, I first said I was from Vermont."

Liar from Vermont CoverIt's a lie, and Peggy knows it: she's the third daughter in a Midwestern academic family that summers in Vermont. But in Peggy's imagination, she lives on the hill farm across the way, with its rhythms of milking, haying, and working horses. Ten interlocking stories follow Peggy's quest for belonging — to a family, to a time, to a place — as she witnesses the irrevocable change in a Vermont whose mountains are becoming ski areas and whose farms are giving way to villages of second homes. A poignant portrait of a girl who sees the truth she embellishes all too clearly, and who learns that no amount of skill can make her stories of the people she loves turn out the way she wants.

Read the title story from the collection.

You can buy Liar From Vermont from Bartleby's Books, which is located just down the road from where Laura lives in the town where many of the stories are set. Bartleby's takes orders online. Liar is also available at your favorite local and online bookshops, directly from the publisher, online at Brigantine Media,
and from Amazon.

 

 

Reviews for Liar From Vermont

"Liar from Vermont is a coming of age story, but it is so much more than that. It is social commentary, depicting the class differences of Vermont farmers and the summer people who delude themselves about their democratic inclusiveness. It looks at male and female gender roles and at what women were (and are?) supposed to do to meet those expectations. It examines family secrets and the dynamic of families who have long conversations while saying nothing of what they feel. It is, as well, an ode to a time that is passing—or that has passed. Above all, it is a wonderful read—witty, insightful, beautifully written, and important." (American Book Review, July/August 2015, Vol.36, number 3)

"[D]elicious—I found myself slowing down, trying to make it last. The collection of stories is beautiful, both in its descriptions of Vermont in the '50s and '60s, and in its evocation of youth, but its pages never sink into nostalgia.

"Peggy is a real, imperfect heroine, and through her eyes, I felt myself back in each stage of childhood with its mixture of the not-quite-expected and the unpredictable." (The Caledonian Record (PDF) (site))

"[T]he book is hard to put down, and readers with a connection to the Deerfield Valley may find themselves drawn in by a sense of familiarity as much as they are by the story. Although it’s never mentioned specifically, the setting for much of the book is Wilmington." (Deerfield Valley News)

"The series of interlocked stories follow the fictional character Peggy Hamilton through the 1950s and 1960s. It deals with class, changes, feminism, illness and death. Hamilton witnesses a neighbor's farm being sold then it's later offered to her father. She gets mixed up with some horse dealers, who turn out to be nice guys." (Bennington Banner)

 

 

"Writing From Life" Lecture Now Online

Earlier this summer at the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, as part of her promotional tour for Liar from Vermont, Laura gave a talk on the art of turning fact into fiction. You can view the presentation on YouTube.

 

Advance Praise for Liar


Laura Stevenson’s Liar from Vermont is the elegantly written, ruthlessly honest, very funny, and astonishingly insightful story of a bright young girl’s coming of age during her summers in mid-twentieth century Vermont. It’s a story about family, friendship, class, and, most of all, love. I, for one, fell in love with Peggy Hamilton, the liar from Vermont, on the first page. Ms. Stevenson writes like an American Jane Austen, though her vision reminds me more of Hemingway’s and Edith Wharton’s. Liar from Vermont is a superb work of fiction.

-- Howard Frank Mosher, author of A Stranger in the Kingdom and Northern Borders

Laura Stevenson’s Liar From Vermont is a captivating novel for young people, and for all of us. Beautifully written and rich with humor, wisdom, and the often heart-piercing real experiences of growing up at any time and in any place, this is the (mostly!) truthful account of a young girl who lives partly in rural Vermont and partly in the urban academic circles frequented by her father, known here as The Great Man. The author tells a good story with unusual understanding and compassion, yet without a drop of sentimentality. I loved this book.

-- Reeve Lindbergh, author of Under A Wing and No More Words

Stevenson’s book is delicious—I found myself slowing down, trying to make it last. Yet although the collection of stories is beautiful, both in its descriptions of Vermont in the ‘50s and ‘60s and in its evocation of youth, its pages never sink into nostalgia. Peggy is a real, imperfect heroine, and through her eyes, I felt myself back in each stage of childhood with its mixture of the not-quite-as-expected and the unpredictable. And through the observant Peggy, who experiences Vermont as a summer visitor, we have snapshots of irrevocable change in a state often viewed from the outside as anachronistic and static. The stories skillfully weave through chapters of Peggy’s early life, presenting carefully distilled moments which can each be enjoyed independently, but when taken together reveal the arc of her development towards adulthood. It’s one of those books as perfectly balanced as a poem, where every phrase and detail count and where what is left unsaid stays with you as much as what is on the page.

-- Jenny Land, author of The Spare Room

Laura Stevenson paints for us the long farewell from childhood to adulthood, one bright and sometimes shocking brush stroke at a time. In LIAR FROM VERMONT, young Peggy Hamilton's journey echoes the one from graceful rural Vermont (full of horses for Peggy to ride) to overbearing ski-town development, and from family comfort to often-lonely independence. The vulnerability of fields and farms and fragile friendships shines in Peggy's self-aware narrative. Stevenson's heart-breaking stories of the 1950s to 1970s demonstrate what a treasure life can be. Even when it hurts. Thank you, oh thank you, for this brave and unforgettable portrait.

-- Beth Kanell, author of The Secret Room and Darkness Under the Water