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Jeff Zentner was a singer-songwriter and guitarist who released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Debbie Harry. He is now an appellate attorney for the State of Tennessee and lives in Nashville with his wife and son. He wrote The Serpent King in a month, writing on his mobile phone on his commute and at night, weekends and lunchtimes between court cases.
Photo credit: Steve Cross
Smart, soulful, authentic and original, there’s no doubt that Zentner is an outstanding YA writer. His debut novel was a southern gothic gem, his second an incisive account of grief and guilt, while this is a contemporary coming-of-age classic, replete with a heartrending road trip, feverish romance and LOLs aplenty. About to graduate from high school, best friends Josie and Delia host a humorous horror movie show on public access TV, with Delia channeling her estranged dad’s love of low-budget fright fests and Josie working towards a career in TV. Experts in the art of witty back-and-forth tennis-rally banter, the girls are super close, but unsettling changes are on the horizon. Delia is desperately torn-up by being abandoned by her dad and, having tracked him down to Florida, has to decide whether she wants to contact him, just when it looks like Josie is about to leave her to take up an internship in another city. While this simmers, and as Delia struggles with being “the mother to my mother”, they’re invited to attend Shivercon. Seeing this gathering of horror moviemakers as the ideal opportunity to meet and enlist the support of an iconic presenter, they embark on a twelve-hour road-trip to Florida with Josie’s new boyfriend Lawson in tow, and Delia now set on seeing her dad. Josie and Lawson’s unexpected romance is as head-over-heels uplifting as Delia’s reunion with her dad is poignant, and there are plenty of entertaining plot twists and moments of everyday magic as this novel wends to a heartfelt conclusion.
April 2016 NewGen Debut of the Month. High school student Dill knows what it is to feel “the crushing weight of destiny”. His granddad went mad after a copperhead viper killed his daughter, and his dad, a fanatical Pentecostal minister, makes his congregation handle deadly serpents to prove their faith. While his father is now in prison for a terrible crime, Dill feels shackled by these family demons, and also by poverty, bullying and a fiercely religious mum who blames Dill for his father’s imprisonment. Dill also knows he’s lucky to have friends like Travis and Lydia. While staff-wielding Travis finds sanctuary from his violent drunk of a dad in fantasy books, Lydia is an energetic fashion blogger from the right side of the tracks. But everything shifts as the three friends embark on their last year of high school. Lydia is all set to study journalism in New York, Travis is excited about his burgeoning relationship with a fellow fantasy geek, but Dill has no hope for his future. He’s terrified of losing Lydia, and terrified that he’s already been poisoned by his family’s legacy. He finds some solace in song-writing but, when tragedy strikes, Dill descends to a very dark place and it takes supreme strength and love to untangle himself from the strangling grip of grief and despair. This southern gothic story about small-town small-mindedness, religious fanaticism, wrestling family demons and the redemptive power of friendship really is an exquisite gem; an unforgettably haunting tale that imprints itself on your heart. ~ Joanne Owen
Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal Winner of the American Library Association Morris Award for best debut YA Winner of the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award for Young Adult Fiction A Buzzfeed Best of 2016 book Goodreads Choice Awards finalist A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2016 Publishers Weekly Best of 2016 Dill is a misfit in his small, religious Tennessee town. His dad is in prison for a shocking crime, and his mom is struggling to make ends meet. The only things getting Dill through senior year are his guitar and his fellow outcasts, Travis and Lydia. Travis is an oddball who finds comfort from his violent home life in an epic fantasy book series. And Lydia is like no one else: fast-talking, creative and fiercely protective. Dill fears his heart will break when she escapes to a better life elsewhere. What Dill needs now is some bravery to tell Lydia how he feels, to go somewhere with his music - and to face the hardest test of all when tragedy strikes.
Ohne seine Gitarre ware Dills Leben wirklich trostlos: Sein Vater ist im Gefangnis, seine Mutter unglucklich, und nach der Schule soll er im ortlichen Supermarkt arbeiten, um die Schulden abzubezahlen. Aber Dill sehnt sich nach einem anderen Leben, irgendwo da drauen. Seine Traume teilt er mit seinen beiden besten Freunden: Lydia, selbstbewusst und mit dem festen Plan, als Modebloggerin nach New York zu gehen, und Travis, der halb in seiner geliebten Fantasy-Serie lebt. Zusammen, glauben sie, konnen sie alles schaffen ...
'Gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately life-affirming' Nicola Yoon 'Hold on to your heart: this book will wreck you, fix you, and most definitely change you' Becky Albertalli Can a text message destroy your life? Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can't stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths. Then Blake's grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a 'goodbye day' together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli's bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver's own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?
';Gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately life-affirming,' says Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also A Star, of this novel about finding strength and hope after tragedy. Perfect for fans ofMe and Earl and the Dying GirlandLooking for Alaska. Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. But now Carver can't stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, a powerful judge is pressuring the district attorney to open up a criminal investigation. Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli's girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake's grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a ';goodbye day' together to share their memories and say a proper farewell. Soon the other families are asking for their own goodbye day with Carverbut he's unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these goodbye days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown oreven worseprison?Includes the song ';The Motion of the Earth' by Jeff Zentner, performed by Jeff Zentner and Elin Palmer ';One of the most stunningly heartfelt, lump-in-your-throat novels I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Hold on to your heart: this book will wreck you, fix you, and most definitely change you.' Becky Albertalli, author of Morris Award winnerSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda ';Tender, honest, moving, and lyrical. His characters live and breathe.Ahh, lucky me. Lucky us. Zentner is the real thing.'Benjamin Alire Senz, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and Printz Honor winning author of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
';The Serpent King is a book you won't be able to resist or forget. The Southern boy in me savored every syllable and the reader in me fell in love with every page.' John Corey Whaley, National Book Award finalist and Printz Award winner Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole lifeat home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father's extreme faith and very public fall from grace. He and his fellow outcast friends must try to make it through their senior year of high school without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Graduation will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is content where he is thanks to his obsession with an epic book series and the fangirl turning his reality into real-life fantasy. Their diverging paths could mean the end of their friendship. But not before Dill confronts his dark legacy to attempt to find a way into the light of a future worth living.Includes the song ';Birds Fly South,' performed by the author and Elin Palmer.Praise for The Serpent King:"e;Zentner combines the melancholy of being 17 with the melancholy present in the best of Southern fiction and gives us a novel that will fill the infinite space that was left in your chest after you finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower."e; -- BookRiot"e;The Serpent King gripped me in its coils and kept me turning pages late into the night. A triumph of love and dignity."e;--Stephanie Perkins, New York Times bestselling authorFrom the Compact Disc edition.