TEASER: IN THE ROLE OF BRIE HUTCHINS by Nicole Melleby
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Nicole Melleby’s debut novel Hurricane Season was called “a story full of hope, art, and love” by R.J. Palacio, author of Wonder, and “an important debut” by Eliot Schrefer, author of Endangered. In her second novel, In the Role of Brie Hutchens… Melleby once again delivers a beautifully written story, taking the reader on a journey with Brie as she wrestles with her sexuality and her faith. Finding oneself is difficult for every middle schooler, but especially for
those who worry that the self they might find is a “self” others won’t like. Melleby handles these topics in a way that is blunt—Brie Hutchens doesn’t mince words—yet sensitive, delivering another absolute must read for any middle grade reader.
Soap opera super-fan Brie Hutchens dreams of going to a performing arts high school and becoming an actress. But Brie’s plans to convince her parents of her talent are thrown out the window when Brie’s mom walks in on her accidentally looking at inappropriate pictures of her favorite actress online. To distract her, Brie blurts that she has been chosen to crown the Mary statue during her Catholic School’s May Crowning ceremony. It works: Brie’s mom is suitably proud. But Brie’s in big trouble. She has not been chosen—no one has yet. Desperate to make her lie true, Brie turns to the best student she knows, Kennedy, to help her write the prize-winning essay. But sometimes just looking at Kennedy gives Brie butterflies. Brie isn’t sure how to talk to her mom, or the mother of God, for that matter, but she can’t change the way she feels about Kennedy. Juggling her new emotions with the rapidly approaching May Crowning, Brie wants more than anything to stop lying, stop hiding, and just be herself. She wants to be seen, even if that means standing center-stage under a spotlight.
Inspired by her own experience balancing faith with sexuality, Melleby strove "to write a story that shows there is no one “coming out moment.” That “moment” happens often, and frequently.” Melleby uses her insight to explore the most complex and important relationships in young people’s lives, spinning “a story that will engage middle-grade readers who enjoy thoughtful novels that address complex topics” (School Library Journal).
While Brie is funny, dramatic, and undoubtably confused, she is also perceptive and thoughtful. Brie’s story is one that every middle-grade reader can learn from and, frankly, every parent, too.
“A nuanced exploration of how to reconcile faith and identity. Melleby's clear, honest voice expertly captures the frustration, awkwardness, and fear of being vulnerable—as well as the potential rewards…This funny, tender, and heart-wrenching story will have readers calling for an encore.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
About the Author:Nicole Melleby is a born-and-bred Jersey girl with a passion for storytelling. She studied creative writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University and currently teaches creative writing and literature courses with a handful of local universities. When she’s not writing, she can be found browsing the shelves at her local comic shop or watching soap operas with a cup of tea.
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