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.

Why?

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.

Yes, Everything

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.

Discovery

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 don’t have to like YA to like Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend by Erika T. Wurth.

In the pages of Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend, Erika T. Wurth brings you a story you probably haven’t heard before. And that’s why you need to read everything.

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.

Giveaway

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).

Winner

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!

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16 Responses to “Read Everything: Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend by Erika T. Wurth (Giveaway!)”

  1. Sabrina Butkera says:

    That’s a tough question! But if I have to pick one, I’ll go with Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It was a beautiful, gripping post-apocalyptic story.

    • EditCassandra says:

      One of my favorites, too! I feel like no one else has to write about the end of the world and what happens next after that book. Something tells me I’ll be rereading it soon.

  2. Freyasmews says:

    I hadn’t been reading nearly enough the past couple years thanks to work burnout. I recently (re)discovered the best antidote, though: force yourself to get rid of books in anticipation of a move. Suddenly, I’m reading one every couple of days. Books are dear friends, and it’s difficult for me to say goodbye unless I feel I can carry their worlds within me. Thus, I’m reading at a pace that will ensure I carry all of the places and thoughts and characters and ideas in short-term memory but retain very little of this good stuff in a year. *sigh*

    Anyway, you obviously don’t need this tip, being the voracious reader you are, but I wanted to share the info mainly to relay that I just didn’t read too many books in 2014. A friend gave me The Bell Jar for my birthday because I told her I had never read it; I think that was probably the most compelling book I read last year.

    My love and I have been known to read YA fiction. Strong writing is strong writing, and it can be inspiring to see what’s out there. Thanks for advocating for the genre.

    • EditCassandra says:

      I know what it’s like to avoid reading because of work! I try and squeeze in a little when I can, even if it’s just for an escape from all the other material my eyeballs have to process.

      You know, I haven’t read The Bell Jar but want to, especially because of an interesting YA novel from Meg Wolitzer (who wrote the pro-YA article I linked to and is an author I like), which came out recently and uses that book as part of its theme. It’s called Belzhar.

      Sorry to add to your to-read pile, but maybe you’ll like it? 🙂

  3. Victor says:

    The best book I read in 2014 was “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy. It’s non-fiction. It was a quick read with practical useful information.

    My current fiction read which is great is “The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making.”

  4. Sheryl says:

    I checked out my Goodreads and I’m gonna go with We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler because it was smart and interesting and memorable!

  5. Sybil says:

    Best book I read last year? What if it was a series? I read all four of books in The Expanse set in one awesome weekend- hard sci-fi is well outside my normal comfort zone, but I found them engrossing and amazing. And it’s good to get outside of my comfort zone, right?

    • EditCassandra says:

      A series counts! Something you devoured in a weekend, huh? I will investigate! And, yes, always good to get out of your comfort zone. Read everything! 🙂

  6. Paula Krapf says:

    My favorite book last year was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
    by Sherman Alexie. I read it because my daughter recommended it, and I like to read some of the same books. It gives us something to talk about, which is important when you have a teenager! This book was hilarious, and tragic, and compelling. It was a glimpse into the world of Native American reservations, and it also introduced me to Sherman Alexie. I was well aware of him but had never read anything by him. I’ve since read several books and short stories by him. He is an amazing writer, so I’m really glad I took my daughter’s suggestion!

    • EditCassandra says:

      Oh! I love Sherman Alexie! He was on the suggested reading list before my first year of college. I agree. He is fantastic. And I love that you and your daughter share books. I bet you will continue that tradition for years and years to come!

  7. Emily says:

    Hi! I just came across your blog today in my New Year’s resolutuon to connect more to the online writing community, and I love it! The best book I read in 2014 was Z: a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Theresa Anne Fowler; it was a beautiful book about the Firzgerald’s relationship from her perspective.

    • EditCassandra says:

      Hi Emily! So glad you stopped by the blog! Thanks for the book recommendation, too. I love that you want to connect with more writers online. I have found so many smart and funny writers on Twitter. If you’re not there already, come on down! I’m @EditCassandra. The hashtag #amwriting is a great way to find others who are writing or at least talking about writing. 🙂

  8. David Lee says:

    I adored Carlos Acosta’s Pig’s Foot. The kind of read that slows the text down because the characters are so complicated and interconnected. My wife decided not to read this title with me, and now I search for people to praise Pig’s Foot!

    • EditCassandra says:

      I love talking about books and can totally relate. It’s hard to keep good books under wraps! Consider me intrigued. I’m on a quest for that book now! Thanks!

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