November: A Summary, or HOLY CRAP WHAT A MONTH

Hello friends!

It's officially December 1st, which means that as of 12:01am this morning, I've been listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas album nonstop and Hudson's holiday collar is out of storage. It also means that November is over and I'm back home from my travels, doing laundry and mourning the fact that there's no more pumpkin cheesecake left over from Thanksgiving. (Which I MADE FROM SCRATCH, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.) 

Signing with Rita, Ibi, and Elana at Books of Wonder! (Erika was busy being awesome at Mashable, so she couldn't make it.)

So. As you may or may not have heard, November was kind of A Month for me. I won the 2017 National Book Award for Young People's Literature, which is a sentence that I never, ever in my life thought that I would have the privilege of saying. I still can't quite believe it and I think maybe I'll fully process the news at some point in 2019? Maybe? We'll see. In any case, I'm so grateful and about a thousand other words that haven't been invented yet to describe how honored I feel.

It was an incredible experience, to say the least, but for me, one of the biggest joys was getting to meet and spend the week with the other finalists. Ibi Zoboi, Elana Arnold, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Erika Sánchez are four of the best and you should obviously read all of the books immediately. It kind of felt like we were at author summer camp, which is a thing that I just invented but immediately want to attend on an annual basis. In any case, these ladies are wonderful, talented, and gracious and I feel so lucky to have seen my book standing alongside theirs.

Me and the mama!

Publishers Weekly put together a very nice article about the night, including some quotes from my speech, so I won't rehash it here. Also I can't rehash it here, because my brain went into meltdown mode and I couldn't talk or even think for the rest of the night. I'm sure I said words to people, of course, but I have no idea what those words were! I hope they were nice! Apologies if I insulted anyone's mother. 

Speaking of mothers! I brought my mom as my plus one because a) she loves me whether or not I win any awards, which is handy, and b) she's great at parties. When I went into shock, she's the one who put a glass of champagne in my hand and got me out on the dance floor for the afterparty. (Side note: the DJ at the party was FANTASTIC. When I left, they were playing Missy Elliott's "Pass That Dutch," which is of course one of Hudson's and my favorite songs. So thank you for that, DJ.)

On the right: my glorious editor, Kristen Pettit. On the left: an author who looks like she's acting out the phrase "deer in headlights" in a heated game of Charades.

Also, I can tell you that if you ever win the National Book Award, you cannot take it through airport security at JFK! I learned this the hard way! "It'll be fine," I said to myself. "I'll just carry it through and then stow it under the seat in front of me." Look, I didn't play any sports in school, so I've never even won a participation trophy before. I had no idea what I was doing. And this award is heavy. But the NBA trophy sent off all sorts of bells and whistles at security (the head TSA guy, a very nice man named Dennis, shook his head at me and said, "What were you thinking?") and I had to go back out to the check-in gate to figure out a solution. Thank you again to Trish at American Airlines for finding a box for me and saving the day!

And finally, thank you to all of you for all of your kind comments that evening. It was one of the most wild nights of my life, but seeing all of your support and love for Far From the Tree, and for me, made it such a magical experience. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

He looks mildly interested to see me after nine days apart. Just mildly.

And now, this guy and I are off to find a Christmas tree. In 75 degree weather. Whatever, I'm sure it'll be fine.

With lots of love and gratitude for you this holiday season,

RB xoxo