Read Everything: Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend by Erika T. Wurth (Giveaway!)
Even if you’re not a writer, you need to read everything. Why limit yourself to one genre, one style, one type? You can escape into nonfiction. You can learn from fiction.
If you’re a writer, then you absolutely need to read everything. Especially in your genre. And definitely outside of your genre.
Because there are so many stories to tell, so many ways to tell them, and the world is a gigantic place.
Look, if you hate zombie fiction with a steampunk twist, then, fine, don’t read zombie fiction with a steampunk twist. (I made that up, but thanks, Google and Goodreads, for helping out.)
Just know that zombie fiction with a steampunk twist exists.
Recognize that writers and readers want to absorb themselves in that world. They give their time and energy to create and live in a place that others do want to believe in.
I generally don’t read young adult (YA) books. I know there’s been a big movement of adults outside of a demarcated age range proclaiming that they, in fact, read YA. A point of pride against the naysayers who wag a finger and offer words of disapproval: It’s not meant for you. You’re regressing, keeping yourself stuck in a different time. Nostalgia. Rose-colored glasses for your past.
I tend to read YA stories accidentally. I found an excerpt online of Pure by Julianna Baggott and got hooked. I loved the story, enjoyed the writing, devoured the second book in the series. And I waited for the next. Sometime in between, I noticed Pure won an Alex Award, which is given to books written for adults that also appeal to kids in the YA range. That wasn’t a shocker to me.
But reading to me isn’t about YA or new adult or middle grade or any other kind of classification. It’s about people. We’re human beings, and we want to read about people, how they, too, are human. I want to know you, we say. I want to find you.
So we read to search for others. A book’s narrator isn’t you, and that’s good. You don’t need a carbon copy of your life to read.
You might go into a story like Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend with enough preconceived notions to fill your own book. The narrator is 16 years old and a drug dealer. She’s Native American. And she isn’t pregnant when the book starts, but if you read the back copy, you’ll know that’s coming. Even before she gets there, Margaritte is caught in some other tight spaces, not the least of which involves navigating her life through a maze carved out for her by an abusive and alcoholic father.
Author Erika T. Wurth captures the dialogue of teenagers without having it turn into a caricature of itself. That element of craft alone had me sit up straight. Through that dialogue, Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend becomes a direct line of discovery to someone you thought you knew but really didn’t.
So you can turn your nose up at the idea of YA, or you can say you’re burnt out on YA in general because that’s all you’ve been reading lately. But you should still read this book.
You should read it because Wurth’s novel is like a tiny piece of mirror in the big mosaic of our modern world. Maybe there are too many other pieces that distract you from seeing yourself in the protagonist, but she’s there, and she needs to be seen. Or maybe the light is clear and you see her perfectly. Maybe as you read you’ll be cringing and peering through hands half covering your eyes, like I did—because this 16-year-old’s world can be ugly, and dark, and filled with minefields and traps set by herself and her family. But maybe she wants to see herself in that mirror piece set against the terrible world, like you want to see her, like you want to see yourself.
Curbside Splendor, the amazing and wonderful publishers of Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend, gave me a complimentary copy of the book, which I said I would read and talk about online. When I later signed up to be a Curbside member (you can do it, too!) and got a package with the fall 2014 catalog of books, I suddenly had another copy of Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend, which means I’ve got one to give to you!
To enter for a chance to win a copy of this book, post a comment below and tell me the best book you read in 2014 and why it beat out all the others. The deadline to enter is Sunday, February 8, at 11:59 p.m. (CT).
With all the powers granted to me by a randomly generated number, I’m thrilled to announce that David Lee is the winner of the giveaway! Like a lot of savvy book-loving types, he keeps his finger on the pulse of wordy news on Twitter.
This giveaway was a total blast, and I look forward to doing another one soon. Thanks so much to everyone who entered!by