Publication Order of Standalone Novels
|Lucy the Giant||(2002)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Sparrow||(2006)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet||(2008)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Flygirl||(2008)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Orleans||(2013)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|The Toymaker's Apprentice||(2015)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Pasadena||(2016)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
If you take a closer look into one of the books written by Sherri L. Smith, you will most likely come across the quote : “Bad things happen everywhere, even in the land of roses”. These are perhaps the words that can most vividly describe young adult novels, which happen to be the center of Smith’s work. And indeed who could be more competent to write about all the things that accompany a transition to the world of grown-ups than a girl whose life brought her from coast to coast of the USA, and took her to work on movies like “Mars Attacks!”, make comic books, and work in a construction company? And win some literary awards in addition? Sherri L. Smith did all of this. This is a story about working girl(s).
Sherri L. Smith was born in Chicago in 1971. However, it was not the “Windy City” where she spent her childhood. It was, in fact, New York- Staten Island to be precise. Smith was always inclined towards the art, and her persistence enabled her to get a Bachelor’s degree in film and broadcast journalism, as well as Master’s degree of Arts in Humanity and Master’s degree of Science in business. The education provided her with a lot of possibilities, and it was not long until she entered the magical world of movies. She participated in the creation of the stop-motion animation effects in Tim Burton’s famous movie “Mars Attacks!” Soon after that, Smith landed a contract with Disney, where she worked on numerous animated projects. However, after three years, Smith was ready to accept new challenges and her career took a surprising turn, as she got a job in a construction company at LA International Airport. She used this time to do some work at Bongo Comics (where she was behind “The Simpsons” comic books) and devote herself to her dream- writing a novel. That is how “Lucy the Giant ” was conceived. Upon its initial release, Smith’s first novel was welcomed with praise and it was selected as an ALA Best Book for Young People. This was just the first drop in an ocean of accolades that this novel would eventually win. If “Lucy the Giant” was a success, what then to say about “Flygirl”? This novel turned out to be a small wonder, and the Washington Post even considered it as the best book of 2012. Smith gained a very strong core of fans and that incited her to continue with writing. This was a good call, as Sherri L. Smith still manages to write acclaimed young adult novels. This prolific author just could not stick to one job and she found a new occupation in a company that manufactures costumes and monsters for the sake of film industry. Nevertheless, writing stays Smith’s main preoccupation.
As it was stated, Smith’s sphere of interest revolves around young adult novels. Is there a better way to start talking about her books than to talk about Flygirl, a gold medalist in the selection of the California Book Awards? Flygirl is a story of Ida Mae Jones, a girl with big dreams in times of trouble. It is hard enough if you live in the WW2 period, it is even more difficult if you are a woman, and it is dreadful if you are an Afro-american in the USA. Nonetheless, if you have an ambition to become a world-class pilot, that takes your case to a whole new level. It seems like an impossible mission for many people. Not for Ida, though. She is a courageous girl with some baggage- her father was a renowned pilot, and she wants to follow his footsteps. Alas, those dreams are beyond the grasp of a black girl. Not even after the army conceives an organization called “Woman Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) does Ida get a chance to get her wings. This decision drives our protagonist to take drastic measures- she makes a complex cover-up and starts presenting herself as white. Soon after she gets her position in WASP and is finally able to help her brother who is fighting somewhere in Pacific. Nevertheless, a new life that Ida has to live is going to face her with some important existential issues and she will have to be calm and act wisely in order not to go astray in the process of adjusting.
“Lucy the Giant” is the very first book written by Smith and it was published in 2002. It received many recognitions and made Sherri famous. This novel also revolves around a young heroine, who is limited by her society. This time, the place is Alaska, and the protagonist is Lucy Otswego, an unusually tall girl. Of course, as it is usually the case in small communities, “unusual” is often deemed as “gross” and Lucy gets a bad reputation. Things at home are not better. Lucy’s mother is out of the picture, and her father is a heavy drinker prone to the violent outbursts. Lucy does not have many friends, except for Sheila and her dog Bar, whom she found on the street. However, Bar soon falls ill and Lucy’s father could not care less about taking him to the vet. Lucy finally decides that she had enough and starts planning a new life, far from the coldness of Alaska and its citizens. Lucy yearns for a chance to escape, and soon after that chance shows itself in the form of a crabbing boat that is looking for crew. Due to Lucy’s strong physiognomy and sturdy stature that give her the looks of a much older girl, she is received on a boat and taken to a life changing trip in the freezing regions of Bering Sea. This is a trip that will change Lucy’s way of thinking and help her grow up.
Anyone who is even remotely introduced to Smith’s work will soon realize that this author finds particularly interesting to write about (mostly) teenage misfits, people who are at the crossroads between childhood and adult age, but do not seem to firmly stand on either of these places. That is the heart of young adult novels. If an author can correctly represent those mixed feelings, mild confusion as well as the uncertainty of mind in that delicate age, he will undoubtedly find his way to the audience, just like Smith did.Book Series In Order » Authors » Sherri L. Smith