Editor Shana Corey Discusses a Book You Need to Read: Exposed by Kimberly Marcus
Early this year I was perusing our RHCB intranet when I came across a piece on the ‘Editor’s Corner’ section written by editor Shana Corey. As I read about how Shana discovered and acquired a new manuscript called Exposed by debut author Kimberly Marcus, I was immediately intrigued and knew I had to read this book. I did so, in one sitting, and now I’m so excited to tell all of you about it. Honest, at times devastating, and deeply affecting, Exposed is a powerful story that I absolutely love. Shana’s story is below and I can bet that after you’ve finished it you’ll want to read Exposed as much as I did. The book doesn’t come out until February 22, 2011, but conveniently we have 5 extra ARCs just waiting to be mailed to 5 lucky readers. Please post a comment below if you’d like a copy.
Prom, Heartbreak, and Oprah
Auctions are a lot like high school dating. And as with high school dating, I’ve been burned before. It always starts out the same. The boy with a guitar-er, the manuscript. The beautiful, catch-my-breath as I read manuscript. The manuscript-that needs ME and only me to edit it. No one could possible understand that manuscript the way I do. I love that manuscript. I need it. I will quite possibly die if I don’t have it.
Now, I don’t want to sound slutty, but I’ve had my share of auctions. There was the big book that didn’t live up to expectations (sigh). The big book that did (joy!). And then there were all the books that got away. Books I lusted after. Books I waited by the phone for. Books I dropped everything for-ignoring my other books to scramble over-books that ended up going to the prom with someone else instead. (I can’t BELIEVE they went with tacky cover!) Believe me, I know the heartbreak of auctions.
Last spring, I was going through a particularly bad streak. I’d had the same conversation with three different agents in as many months. Sure I understand. Of course it’s not personal. Of course it’s not me. Of course there are no hard feelings and we’ll still be friends.
And so I decided I was done. No more auctions for me. I didn’t need their stupid books. Their big advances and shiny new authors. I had plenty of fabulous books without them. So there.
And then came Exposed.
As is often the case with editorial love stories, I started it on the way home from work. I missed my subway stop. I got home and hugged my children, but truth be told, kind of resented that they wanted me to put down my reader to make them dinner. What with all the incessant “I’m hungry!” and “feed me!” I could hardly finish a sentence. (Note to self-look into an au pair). As soon as my husband came home, I headed out to kickboxing class (1/2 hour early so I could finish the manuscript, though as I left him with our screaming, food flinging darlings, I didn’t mention that).
I pulled out my reader waiting for the class to start and raced to the end of Kim Marcus’s amazing, gorgeously written debut, literally sobbing as I pressed the page turn arrow. I’m not talking polite, silent tears, I’m talking gasping, choked out sobs that had random sweaty women in boxing gloves patting me awkwardly and asking if I was okay.
Yes, I assured them I was okay.
Because all kidding aside, Exposed is one of the most beautiful, most gut-wrenchingly wonderful books I’ve ever read. I was completely surprised by how hard I fell for it, but fall I did. First off, it’s in verse, and to be honest, unless you’re Virginia Euwer Wolff, I tend to avoid verse. But the writing here-Kim just cuts through everything and with a few well chosen words gets to the universal common denominator of her characters in ways I’ve rarely, if ever, read before.
Secondly (and the rest of this is a complete spoiler, so feel free to skip), it’s sort of a rape book. In general, I don’t read those books. But once again, this book was a game changer. This is not a standard rape book. Yes, there is an accusation, but it’s not the main character, Liz, making it. It’s her best friend. And the accused is Liz’s own brother. And Exposed is not about the event itself which we never see-it’s about the ripple effect that surrounds it and the impossible situation Liz finds herself in.
There’s a statistic about rape I’ve always heard-I believe it’s that 1 in 4 women are raped. What I think is even more shocking than that, is to look at that number from another side. If one in 4 women are raped, than how many people, like the main character Liz, know someone-how many people love someone-who is raped? 2 of 4? 3 of 4?
This statistic is personal to me, because when I was thirteen, I came home from my summer “job” volunteering in a nursing home and found out that someone I loved had been raped that morning. What happened that day–over 20 years ago now–isn’t my story and (despite appearances) it’s something I never talk about, but it’s one reason I think this book is not just beautiful-but important. Because no one talks about being the third party to something like that, because it’s not their story to tell-it didn’t happen to them. But still, it changes everything-it divides life into before and after, it changes who they are, who the person is that it happened to, who they are together, who they’ll be in the future and it’s the lens they’ll look through to view the past. While Exposed is not at all my story, this is the only book I’ve ever read that really captures that ripple effect and what it does as it tears through a life, a family, a community, and I love that it does that so accurately and honestly, without melodrama or histrionics or stereotypes. Nothing is black and white in this story and there’s not a sensational or heavy handed moment here. It’s just gut-wrenching and gorgeous and will make you think about things in a way you’ve never thought about them before.
Kim Marcus (the fantastically talented author who’s debut this is) is a social worker specializing in trauma work. She’s spent years on crisis teams and in schools speaking with kids about subjects like this. I can’t wait for her to start talking about this book when it comes out. I am so happy–so honored–to be publishing it and to be able share it and this truly incredible author with you. May I suggest you read it with a box of tissue near by.