Thursday, November 6, 2008

Nellie Hermann

Nellie Hermann attended Brown University, earning her B.A. in May of 2000. She received her M.F.A. from Columbia University.

In her acclaimed debut novel, The Cure for Grief, the protagonist "Ruby is the youngest child in the tightly knit Bronstein family, a sensitive, observant girl who looks up to her older brothers and is in awe of her stern but gentle father, a Holocaust survivor whose past and deep sense of morality inform the family's life."

From a Q & A at the publisher's website:

Ruby is an immensely likeable and sympathetic character, and I think many young girls can relate to her feelings and occasional missteps. Are there any other young female characters in literature who were particularly memorable or meaningful for you?

Absolutely. Jean Stafford's book The Mountain Lion, with its character of Molly, was hugely influential, and in general is an incredible book that ought to be read more. Also Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I revisited. I also always loved Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird -- I haven't read that one in a long time, but I loved it so much as a young person that I'm pretty sure it is hardwired into my brain.

Summer camp plays an important role in Ruby's youth in giving her the space and freedom she needs to find herself. Did you attend summer camps and if so, do you have fond memories of them?

I did, and I do. I feel like as an adult there's something shameful or nerdy about nostalgia for summer camp, and as a result maybe it's not explored as much as it could be. But it is fertile ground indeed, a group of young people away from their homes and what defines them in their "normal" life. I was definitely lucky to go to good ones, I realize, but some of my best friends are still friends I made at camp. You get to know people, for good or ill, in an intimate way that really can't be duplicated.
Read the complete Q & A.

Read an excerpt from The Cure for Grief, and learn more about the author and her work at Nellie Hermann's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Cure for Grief.

--Marshal Zeringue