Student Picks: Currie, Gray, Padian


Danielle Service-- I dated a guy back in 2011 that told me to read Everything Matters! by Ron Currie. I bought it instantly but didn’t read it until this year, when that cat texted, asking for sex. 

Junior – the protagonist in Everything Matters! – grows up in Maine with one caveat: he knows from the moment of his conception when and how the world will end (36 years and 168 days following his conception, Earth is hit by a comet). Initially, an omniscient second-person narrator tells the story; then, Currie strikes an irreverent tone by splicing in alternating limited-third-person narration in the perspectives of Junior’s brother, a teenage cocaine addict who later becomes a professional baseball player; their father, a Vietnam veteran with a meaningful secret and a New England work ethic; and their mother, a secretive alcoholic. 

There’s a plot to destroy a social security building, a deportation to a Bulgarian gulag, suicide bombers and life-saving irrigation systems involved prior to the world’s end in Currie’s thoughtful work – but most important is Junior’s alteration of his own destiny. I followed the protagonist’s lead: I texted the guy back saying I’d read the book and wished him well, but was deleting his number.


Heather Lynn Horvat-- Isadora by Amelia Gray is an enthralling, relentless portrayal of the stunning but eccentric dancer Isadora Duncan in her darkest time. The novel is a dance of its own with short segments that begin like stage directions before entering the scene, and is told from alternating viewpoints between Isadora, her lover Paris Singer (of Singer sewing machines), her sister Elizabeth, and Max, who dwells too much on the fame he doesn't have.

The story opens moments after Isadora's children drown in a car that suffered mechanical issues and drove off a cliff. Grief is ever-present, but it is how the characters deal with the grief that makes this story memorable. Isadora, over time, consumes the ashes of both of her children. Elizabeth gorges on extra butter and eggs while no one watches. Paris stares for days at a painting, studying individual faces only to find that each resembles his lover or his child. Once, Isadora writes to her former lover with a request to take the child's clothing to water's edge and dunk it, then report back the weight of the soaked clothes. 

Isadora examines grief and the mind's ability to overcome tragedy with lyrical prose.


Katie Fenton-- Recently, I took the opportunity to read Wrecked by Maria Padian. This Young Adult novel follows the lives of two college students, Haley and Richard, who find themselves having a difficult year after Haley’s roommate accuses Richard’s friend of raping her at a party. The plot continually twists and turns as the reader learns about the traumatic event alongside the characters as they piece together the puzzle of that horrible night. In true Young Adult fashion, Haley and Richard try to grow together in their own relationship. 

I was rather blown away by Wrecked. The storyline seemed like it might be simple and overdone, but in reality, it offered a unique take. Through well-placed foreshadowing, the reader is given a reliable narrator whose god-like view of the night slowly offers the answers they’re looking for. This novel’s unique style and storyline was not only something I thoroughly enjoyed reading, but as a writer, it encouraged me to look at my own work in a different way.