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WOW! We are thrilled we get to write that Ken Cadow (Yes, Lisa Cadow's spouse) is a National Book Award finalist. There is a long story about the conversation we had the day this nomination was announced; we will not bore you with it here other than saying it included remembrances of talking about National Book Award nominees in the basement of the Norwich Public Library years ago. We will say we are beyond grateful and amazed that Ken's first YA novel has received such superb recognition. And, we are honored to review his book here.
So, CONGRATULATIONS KEN - no matter what happens in NYC on November 15th, you are a winner to us. (In related news, we hope Lisa Cadow gets to actually converse at length with Oprah at the Awards ceremony; the other Lisa from the Book Jam would really, really love for that to happen for her. And, we are wondering why the Award PR says you all live in Pompanoosuc... )
Gather by Ken Cadow (2023). Yes, we are biased towards giving this book a great review. And we are grateful that we can without hesitation. This book is amazing; the awards panel was brilliant in its selection as Ken's skilled words create a world in which you care deeply about 16 year old Ian and his fate. Quick plot outline -- Ian and his mother reside in a run-down house owned by his father's family for generations in rural Vermont. Unfortunately, his father left them for a new family in Tennessee some years ago. His mother struggles with employment and eventually addiction, complicating Ian's ability to play basketball for the high school team, succeed in school, and ensure his house has heat and food. When a really big dog appears in his backyard, Ian manages to keep it, an incredible gift as his world unravels in all directions. Ian's wry wit and ability to improvise and Ken's descriptions of rural Vermont and the people who populate it make this novel soar, even as it unflinchingly explores the consequences for kids from circumstances they did not choose and do not deserve. Read this if you care about kids, want insight into poverty, or just need an amazing story. Congratulations Ken! (PS- I loved your lovely tribute to the dear Lisa Cadow in your acknowledgements; it left me teary in a good way. See you at Pages in the Pub on November 28th) ~ Lisa Christie