Title announced for One Book One Valley 2023
The One Book One Valley (OBOV) initiative kicked off in December at The Bookworm of Edwards. The title for 2023 is “The Downstairs Girl” by Stacey Lee.
In attendance to formally make the Dec. 1 announcement were: Melissa Matthews, Clerk of the Town of Red Cliff, and Eagle County Commissioners Jeanne McQueeney, Kathy Chandler-Henry and Matt Scherr. Also in attendance were several members of the One Book One Valley committee as well as members of the general public.
One Book One Valley is a county-wide reading initiative now in its 12th year in Eagle County. It is a collaborative program organized and offered by The Bookworm of Edwards, Colorado Mountain College, Battle Mountain High School, Eagle Valley High School, Vail Mountain School and Vail Public Library.
The OBOV initiative is designed to unite and uplift hundreds of citizens by encouraging reading and promoting literacy and a sense of community by sharing a common topic for conversation, all while deepening engagement in literature through reading and discussion.
Across the nation, “One Book” programs take the idea of a localized book discussion club and expand it to invite the entire community to join the conversation. The first community read in the U.S. was organized in Seattle by Nancy Pearl in association with the public library there in 1998, two years after Oprah Winfrey introduced her national book club for viewers.
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One Book One Valley encourages all Eagle County residents to read the same book at the same time to create a community book club with far reach, expanding to all the small towns in our valley, as well as its students and educators, to bring people together over a “big read.”
“One of the challenges for the OBOV committee each year is ensuring that we select a title that will resonate across our community,” Lori A. Barnes, Director of Library Services for the Vail Public Library, said. “Good books to discuss tend to be well-written and raise universal themes with which readers can identify.”
As large as the program has grown over the years, there is always potential for additional engagement from local businesses that could grow with the 2023 chosen title. “I’d like to see us look at our community through the lens of reading and consider how we can bring the joy of reading into local businesses, agencies, and organizations,” Barnes said. “I want to see the entire community read the selected title, but also I want the community to see the connection a particular title might have to them while they rediscover or continue a love of reading.”
Each year brings new readers into the OBOV circle and Barnes knows that this interaction with the community will only grow in future years, especially with outstanding presentations given by each chosen author. “I want to see OBOV continue to encourage a love for reading throughout the valley, bringing local residents together, reaching underserved populations, making readers out of non-readers,” Barnes said.
The 2023 selected title, “The Downstairs Girl” by Stacey Lee, is a young adult title published in 2019 that is available in print, audiobook, eBook & eAudiobook formats. New York Times best-selling young adult novelist, Stacey Lee, is an award-winning author of 5 historical and contemporary young adult fiction. A native of Southern California and fourth-generation Chinese American, she graduated from UCLA, then got her law degree from UC Davis King Hall. After practicing law in the Silicon Valley for several years, she finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day, and it was easier than moving to Spain.
“The Downstairs Girl” is a powerful novel about identity, betrayal, and the meaning of family in the 1890s. With prose that is witty, insightful, and at times heartbreaking, Stacey Lee masterfully crafts an extraordinary social drama set in the New South. By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender.
“Every adult should read at least one middle-grade or young adult book per year,” Ali Teague, event manager for The Bookworm of Edwards, said. “These books help us empathize and connect with young people. They tend to have the richest and most relatable characters who are not only discovering who they are, but also their place in the world. They are also, generally, more optimistic about the state of the world so they can be that much-needed palette cleanser after reading a heavy-hitting adult book. But, my favorite thing about books written for young readers, and the reason I read several of them per year, is how unpretentious and accessible they are. Any adult at any reading level can read a young reader’s book and learn and feel just like our young readers do.”
Stacey Lee will be visiting our valley next April and the Finale Author Event will take place Thursday, April 6, at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards. Pick up a copy of “The Downstairs Girl” through your local library or purchase a copy at a 10% discount from The Bookworm. For more information, visit OneBookOneValley.com.