WESTBOROUGH, Mass. -- When she was 14, A.S. King wanted to write a non-fiction book that would help teens and adults get along. That book was never written, but today, King, a young adult literary novelist, is creating works that to her happy surprise, gets adults and teens talking to each other.
"I've accidentally made my dream come true," she said.
It's a dream mirrored by the Westborough Reads Together project, an initiative that provides a forum on social issues for Westborough teens and adults through a shared reading experience.
"It's such a success to have teens and adults talk about subject matter that's true and real," King said, sitting in a conference room at the Westborough High School library on Tuesday. King was spending the day at the school, speaking to students about her work and teaching a writing workshop.
That interaction included an interview with Westborough High School's student news site, which was a new experience for student Stephanie Johnston.
"I'm still shaking," Johnston said. "It's not like interviewing a high schooler."
King was also scheduled to go to a book signing at Tatnuck books that evening.
King, a Pennsylvannia native and one-time resident of Ireland, is the author of several young adult novels including "Please Ignore Vera Dietz," a 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor Book, an Edgar Award Nominee, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book for Teens 2010, a Junior Library Guild selection, and a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults pick.
"Vera Dietz" deals with an array of issues, from social isolation, death, friendship, betrayal, and how parents and children relate to each other. It's serious subject matter that fans of King's novel said are dealt with in ways both gripping and humorous.
School Librarian Anita Cellucci said that books such as "Please Ignore Vera Dietz," when part of a discussion, help form connections between kids and between kids and adults.
King said that she's found that adults often underestimate the trials of teenage kids, and kids underestimate the struggles adults face. And she emphasized that teens need an outlet to express themselves. Her novel, in many ways a personal statement, has unexpectedly helped to accomplish that, she said.
"That something so personal to me can touch so many people--that's surprising to me," King said.