BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – Village Square Booksellers welcomes Vermont author Ann Braden Sunday, Sept. 16 at 1 p.m. to talk about her new middle grade novel, “The Benefits of Being an Octopus.” Earning a starred review from School Library Journal, this moving debut novel explores the cultural divides around class and the gun debate through the eyes of one girl, living on the edges of society, trying to find her way forward.
Some people can do their homework. Some people get to have crushes on boys. Some people have other things they’ve got to do. Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there’s Lenny, her mom’s boyfriend – they all get to live in his nice, clean trailer.
At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Her only friend Fuchsia has her own issues. Since they’re in an entirely different world than the rich kids, it’s best if no one notices them. Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses. Unfortunately, she’s not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way: her mom’s relationship with Lenny, Fuchsia’s situation, and her own place in this town of people who think they’re better than her. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she’s ever had?
Ann Braden writes books about kids struggling to find their voice amidst the realities of life. She founded GunSenseVT, a grassroots group focused on championing the common ground on the issue of guns in Vermont. She also founded the Local Love Brigade, which now has chapters all over the country sending love postcards to those who are facing hate. Braden is the co-host of the children’s book podcast, “Lifelines: Books that Bridge the Divide,” along with Pakistani American author Saadia Faruqi. She is a former middle school teacher. She lives in southern Vermont with her husband, two children, and two insatiable cats named Boomer and Justice.
Call 802-463-9404 for book and event reservations, or preorder a book at www.villagesquarebooks.com/book/9781510737488.