In this literary episode of the Popzara Podcast our own bookies Nathan Evans and Nia Bothwell talk with Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Kansas and author Laura Moriarty about her latest book, American Heart. It follows 15-year old Sarah-Mary, a naïve teenager, who finds her isolated world turned upside-down after befriending Iranian-American Sadaf, an engineering professor attempting to flee a nightmarish scenario where Muslims are herded into internment camps under the pretense of “safety”.
It’s a weighty piece of fiction featuring themes and scenarios bound to challenge some YA readers. Moriarty shares both her inspiration and reasoning behind the book’s creation, the struggles in trying to identify with modern teenagers, as well as literary allusions to Mark Twain’s equally controversial classic Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in her work.
Of course, no conversation about American Heart would be complete without mentioning the controversial and unprecedented decision by Kirkus Reviews to rescind its coveted “star” rating after initially publishing a positive review of the book. As you can imagine, both hosts and guest have plenty to say about the dangers of assumptions and angering the YA mob in the age of instant social-media. Much like the book itself attempts to show, it’s a conversation where learning to think outside your comfort zone and making up your own mind may just be the healthiest choice you can make.