Thursday, May 10, 2018

August and Everything After by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

Book Nerd Spotlight

Summer on the New Jersey shore offers Quinn a new start at life and love, but only if she can come to terms with her past

Graduation can't come soon enough. Desperate for a fresh start, Quinn is eager to escape to her aunt's house on the New Jersey shore for the summer…away from teenage drama and having to answer everyone's questions about "what comes next" after high school.

Quinn can't bear to focus on the future. She doesn't even think she deserves one—not after her best friend died in a car accident that Quinn feels responsible for. But when Quinn meets Malcolm, a musician who has been trying to escape his own demons, she starts to believe in second chances.


“A satisfying blend of family drama, romance, and music, staged in the aftermath of tragedy.” Publishers Weekly

“I fell headfirst in love with this book. It has everything I love in a YA contemporary novel, and I inhaled it... an enticing story with so much feeling.” Andrew King, University Book Store


I started wearing my grandmother’s old cat-­eye glasses in June, right after my latest crush nearly crushed me. The messy incident involved my band student teacher, a six-­pack of Blue Moon, and a freak thunderstorm. Connect the dots any way you want. I know it’s not pretty. Neither was I when I put on Grammy’s glasses. But that was kind of the point. When I fled my small town after graduation to spend the summer at my aunt’s beach house, I didn’t want to be the old Quinn Gallo anymore. Here at the Jersey shore, no one knows me as the half-­naked girl who had to be rescued from her band teacher’s Toyota Corolla by the Jaws of Life.

The glasses added a layer to my new anonymity. I found them tucked in the top drawer of the wicker dresser as I unpacked in the guest room, and something inside me shifted when I put on the black, bejeweled frames. Like the first time Bilbo slipped on the One Ring of Power.

I got the prescription adjusted to fit me and I’ve been wearing them ever since.

In fact, I’m wearing them tonight as I sit on a barstool at Keegan’s Cocktail Lounge, the old-­man bar turned indie rock club where I waitress on Friday nights. I’m reading The Awakeningwhile the opening act—­a singer/songwriter dude with a backstory more tragic than my own—­sets up. It’s his first performance since his guitarist and drummer were killed in a tour bus accident two years ago. My coworker, Liam, told me all about it.

“Malcolm was really messed up. He blamed himself.” I told Liam I couldn’t imagine, but unfortunately, I could. My best friend, Lynn, died when we were fifteen.

So I’ve been avoiding Malcolm since he got here, knowing that if I’m not careful, I’ll get pulled into his orbit. Fuckups attract fuckups, I’m sure of it.

Apparently I’m ignoring him better than I thought, because he manages to sneak up behind me, lean down so that we’re almost cheek to cheek, and peek through my glasses. I startle and face him.

“What the hell are you doing?” I ask, louder than I intended.

“Sorry,” he says. “I had to know if those glasses were real or some hipster gimmick.”

Before I can stop myself, I reach up and tug his beard. “I was thinking the same thing about this.”

“Ouch. I usually get a girl’s name before she grabs my facial hair. Or anything else.”

He wishes.

I put down my book and hold out my hand.

“Quinn Gallo.”

He holds my gaze and hand longer than he needs to, swinging my arm a little like we’re about to twirl a jump rope.

“Malcolm Trent.”

I pull away.

“I know.” I flick my thumb toward the flyer taped to the mirror behind the bar. “I can read.”

He nods toward my book.

“I see. Is that the feminist lit talking or are you always like this?”

I twist the leather cuff bracelet I never take off and think of something nice to say. It’s not his fault he’s immune to Grammy’s glasses. “I’m looking forward to your set.”

“Yeah? But you brought backup entertainment just in case?”

“Reading is work, not entertainment. My aunt’s letting me live with her this summer on the condition that I read one book a week. Her picks.”

“What else have you read?”

I tick off my reading list thus far.

“Jane Eyre, Beloved, The Bell Jar—­”

“It’s possible your aunt needs to lighten up.”

I shrug.

“Small price to pay for a summer away from home. I had to get away from my town.”

“Trouble with the law?”

“More like trouble with The Mom. I’m not her favorite daughter at the moment.”

My “poor judgment” regarding my unromantic evening with my band teacher coupled with my decision not to go to college this fall landed Mom and I on opposite sides of an enormous iceberg. We both needed time to thaw.

“Ha! I could write a book about being the prodigal son.”

“Can you make it a song instead? If you write a book, my aunt will make me read it.”

Malcolm’s reflexive laugh warms my body. He looks like he’s about to say something else, but before he has a chance, Caleb, the owner of Keegan’s, signals Malcolm that it’s time to take the stage.

“I gotta—­”

“Oh, yeah, of course. I’ve gotta get to work too.”

Neither of us moves.

I stare at him over the top of my glasses. He tilts his head like he’s deciding what to do next. Then, before I have time to register what’s happening, Malcolm reaches toward my face and gently pushes my glasses back up my nose.

“You have pretty eyes, Quinn. You shouldn’t hide them behind ugly glasses.”

For the first time in my life, someone looked me in the eyes and didn’t point out that they’re two different colors. The right one is brown, the left is blue. I want to say thank you, or have a good set, or something, but by the time I get my voice back, he’s gone.

I smooth my apron, pick up my book, and try to shake off the feeling that my defensive shield just failed me and allowed my next nobody to walk right through.

You can purchase August and Everything After at the following Retailers:

Author Spotlight
Photo Content from Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

Jennifer Salvato Doktorski is the author of the YA novels, HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES, FAMOUS LAST WORDS, a Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year, THE SUMMER AFTER YOU & ME, a YALSA Teens' Top Ten nominee and the forthcoming AUGUST & EVERYTHING AFTER.

Her first paid writing gig was as an editorial assistant for the North Jersey Herald & News, where, in addition to developing a life-long passion for coffee and news, she wrote obituaries for eight months. She also worked as a speech writer, bank teller, ghostwriter, bookkeeper in a lampshade factory, pet shop clerk, and music zine editor.

She lives with her family in New Jersey and spends her summers “down the shore,” where everything's always all right.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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