You: The Story: A Writer’s Guide to Craft Through Memory

Viking. May 2023. 224p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780593524381.
Gr 6 Up–Sepetys presents a humorous and winsome “how-to” for novice writers, offering anecdotes from her own life as a starting point. She asks readers and writers to think about the oddities in their own lives to craft memoirs and narratives that are unique, full of emotion, and enchanting. Sections of this guide are broken down by literary elements, including plot, setting, and dialogue, with smaller chapters in each section related to the building blocks and puzzle pieces of those elements. This scaffolding of questions and techniques, coupled with personal memories for context, offers an accessible and easily digestible approach. With the same skill and craft that Sepetys employs to write relatable and moving invented characters, she paints a picture of her family, friends, and acquaintances, proving she is capable of more than enthralling fiction. Further, her endearing stories of painting her bedroom “poop brown” and eavesdropping at restaurants to get ideas for dialogue and characters offer deeply personal snippets to establish trust and connection with her readers.
VERDICT This is a must for any collection where young readers have an interest in storytelling, as well as generally a good pick for fans of the author.

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