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Laurie Frankel & Ashley Ream

It’s always fun to welcome an author to the store, but what’s really exciting is hosting two at the same time. Writers in conversation with each other seem to be much more revealing than they are when they’re presenting by themselves. It’s just a more natural mode of expression. For us in the audience it’s like eavesdropping instead of listening to a canned speech, and I think we get our fill of those on the news these days, don’t you? Anyway, two authors = double the fun. When those two are the two we have on tap for next week? Well, that’s a real thrill.

One of those is Ashley Ream, who’s written a novel, The 100 Year Miracle, that we’d be fond of even if it weren’t set on a Northwest island. This particular fictional island is off the coast of Washington, surrounded by tiny organisms that glow once every century. Since time immemorial these sea creatures have been merely striking to see, but in the present day, one obsessive researcher believes they hold the answer to curing a debilitating disease. She, and a man who is suffering its effects, have only one week before the bloom will fade and perhaps their hopes with it. Cutting-edge medical science meets riveting personal drama, set on local shores–not to be missed.

The other author on the bill is Laurie Frankel, someone you may remember from a Modern Love column she wrote for the New York Times last fall, a piece that went viral so fast it made Ebola look mild. That column, about her daughter’s first days of school, was a snapshot of the experiences that helped inspire the novel she’ll be sharing with us next Tuesday. This Is How It Always Is is the story of a mom and a dad raising an all-boy clan the size of a basketball team, a family that might be abnormally large but is otherwise as normal as anyone’s, full of chaos, joy, and petty bickering. But then one day the youngest of the bunch announces that he wants to be a girl when he grows up. It starts as a secret that stays in-house, but like all secrets it has to come out eventually. And then what? It’s no spoiler to say that the lesson of this big drama is that it’s a lot like everybody’s little dramas. Kids grow, things change, and it’s never easy, regardless of who you are or who you want to be.

These books are a perfect combination because they’re exactly what most of us look for when we read. Both take inspiration from zeitgeisty current topics that make us think, and both convert those big ideas into approachable human stories that make us feel. They’re about lives like ours, happening to real people like us, just a little smarter, funnier, more tumultuous, and more interesting, and you’ll feel all of the above after you take signed copies of Ashley and Laurie’s books home with you.

In case my little theory about author combos, life, the universe, and why we read doesn’t convince you, I have a pro waiting in the wings. Laurie Frankel herself has been kind enough to provide some thoughts about how and why she writes. Her (our!) exclusive essay is just a taste of the treats in store when we meet on May 30th ... continued