Books by Carol Lynch Williams

As Carol’s assistant for this year’s WIFYR conference, it is my privilege to review one of her books for this blog. The hardest part was to decide which book to review. I had previously read Miles From Ordinary and The Chosen One, and found Carol to be an amazing author who tackles tough topics with extraordinary talent. I reread Pretty Like Us, and Christmas in Heaven, which both made me cry because of the touching endings, and A Mother to Embarrass Me, which made me laugh so hard that I cried again. Then I read Glimpse, which I couldn’t put down once I’d started. It is different in format from Carol’s other books and for that reason I will review it today.

Glimpse is written in free verse, a haunting poem, with few words per page. It slowly reveals the story of two young sisters, Hope and Lizzie, whose lives include the unthinkable neglect, cruelty and abuse of their mother. When Lizzie becomes suicidal, Hope is at first puzzled, but she slowly realizes what has happened to her sister (and what the reader has begun to suspect). Booklist says it this way: “Glimpses into [Hope’s] memories and her dreams unfold a story of neglect and abuse that will haunt both Hope and the reader alike. Williams tells a brutal, gripping story through the veiled language of free verse, choosing her words and Hope’s memories with careful intent…. –Frances Bradburn.” Tim Wynne-Jones, author of the Uninvited, sums it up this way, “An edge-of-the-seat thriller written in sharp, glinting shards of words. Held in, held back, whispered and shouted. Fantastic!”

Each of Carol’s books is unforgettable in its own ways; Carol’s words have a way of lingering on the mind and heart. I love the way Carol writes. It is so real, so truthful, even if at times almost too painful— like reading from someone’s secret diary—yet always offering hope. Through her words, Carol has a genuine talent of showing us how true friendship works and what it is like to be a friend. Though my current WIP is a YA fantasy, I’m excited to be in Carol’s class because I know she will teach me how to be a better writer, and likely how to be a better friend.

Carol’s latest book, Waiting, comes out in May of this year.

-by Debbie Nance


8 thoughts on “Books by Carol Lynch Williams

  1. And for those of you that may not know, starred reviews are a BIG deal in the book world. A starred review from Kirkus, Library Journal, School Library Journal, and the periodicals like them basically mean the starred book is deemed “excellent” by the harshest critics in the industry. The big medal winners are often starred books before they go on to win gold.

    In short, we’re keeping our fingers crossed for Carol and the 2013 Printz Award! Go, Carol, GO!!

  2. Glimpse sounds similar to The Chosen One, which I enjoyed a lot. Carol’s characters undergo such realistic internal journeys. Dark, I admit, but the way she writes makes it very personal. :) This will be a good one…

  3. Great review, Debbie. The starred reviews WAITING is getting only tell us things we already knew about Carol’s writing–it’s as amazing as she is! I loved GLIMPSE.

    Martine Leavitt, while teaching at WIFYR, said difficult topics in YA fiction must be written with a safety net. So I second Acacia–Carol can write “Dark” while still inspiring hope in the reader.

  4. Carol’s words do have a way of lingering on the mind and heart. The Chosen lingered for a while with me. Fantastic tale of a world we in Utah may see only from the outside.

  5. Great review, Debbie. Carol is an incredible writer. Her books always make me feel something powerful. I overheard her in the halls of WIFYR one year talking to a student, and just hearing a snatch of her conversation taught me something about writing that I still think about.

  6. Well said, Debbie–almost too painful yet always offering hope. While we do go on the character’s emotional journey in Carol’s books, it’s true that hope is the emotion that lingers.
    Lucky you to be able to assist in Carol’s class!

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