I haven't met Andrew Smith face to face , but I've read all of his books. All of them matter to me.
The first one I read was The Marbury Lens. I didn't know anything about the book, because even though I belong to Goodreads, I don't rate books or read reviews. If someone I trust recommends the book, I get the book.
So I dove right in to Jack's world. Disturbing, real, gritty, anxiety-inducing, absolutely riveting, and--the best part--totally un-categorizable. Reading this book was a wild ride that made me uncomfortable in my skin and got into my DNA.
I loved it.
So then, through a happy sequence of unexpected events, I got my hands on a digital copy of Stick.
I was honored. It's a sacred trust, having someone trust you with a copy of a book that's not out yet, someone they don't know.
I felt awe. I looked at it. And I read the first line and I was a goner.
I cried at various times throughout the book, and, as I have mentioned before, crying isn't something I do a lot. I cried because I love Stick, the main character. My husband got worried that I was all teary. I read parts of the book to him. I read parts of the book to my mom. I'm going to read parts of the books to my students next week.
And Stick is a completely different kind of book from The Marbury Lens. This is amazing. And yet it is so clearly a book by Andrew Smith. Real. Beautifully written. Intense. Just like the story was something that had to come out of him. I love this book fiercely. I show the book trailer to my students. They want to know Stick, and I am glad.
So then I had to read Ghost Medicine and In the Path of Falling Objects.
And here's the thing: these books are different wild rides of their own. I loved Ghost Medicine because the depiction of innocence and longing is so true that it echoed in my bones. I've never read a book like this before.
And when you read In the Path of Falling Objects, the combination of violence, brotherly love, loss, and friendship will put your hair on fire.
I don't think about anything at all when I'm reading Andrew's books. I have to read. I am grabbed by these stories and taken on these journeys and I read like my soul is going to get sucked out if I don't. And when I'm finished, then I think about the books, and they stay with me.
Here's how I see it: Andrew writes because he has to, like stories pour out of him, with blood and sweat and joy and sorrow, with never a thought about audience because the story has to happen. I don't know if that's true or not, but that's how the books read. I love that.
Because you always hear people say they write because they have to. I don't know if Andrew says that. I do know that I believe it of him, and his work.
And I love that his books defy categorization. I'm sure they get labeled for marketing purposes or whatever, but I like that when a student asks me about Andrew's books, what kind of book it is, I just say, "It's a story. You should read it."
And when they persist,asking what kind of story, I say," The best kind."
And that's why what Andrew Smith writes matters.
Stick comes out on October 11, 2011.