Marie Marquardt on Immigrants, Issues & the Healing Power of Libraries

Last year, Marie Marquardt leapt onto the YA scene with her debut novel, DREAM THINGS TRUE, a modern-day Romeo and Juliet story in which a wealthy Southern boy falls in love with an undocumented Mexican girl and together they face perils in their hostile Georgia town. Her second YA novel, THE RADIUS OF US, explores the American dream again, but this time through the lenses of two traumatized teens who find healing in love.

Marie Marquardt has a message for librarians, but first, we’re offering complimentary advance readers copies of THE RADIUS OF US to any U.S.-based librarian who requests one (limited quantity available).

To get your copy, email from your professional/library-issued e-mail address (subject: Radius of Us) and don’t forget to include your library’s mailing address.

Take it away, Marie!

Dear YA Librarian,

I am thrilled to write to you about my new young adult novel, THE RADIUS OF US, which will be published by St. Martin’s Press on January 17, 2017. As a story featuring immigrants and asylum-seekers seeking refuge in the United States, this book addresses timely and important themes, and I hope you’ll be willing to tell your young patrons about it.

I’ve spent two decades working with Latin American immigrant families in the South. I also run a non-profit called El Refugio that serves immigrants and asylum-seekers in detention. This work inspired my debut novel, DREAM THINGS TRUE, which was published in 2015. To research THE RADIUS OF US, I traveled to El Salvador and to detention facilities across the U.S., where I met with teenagers fleeing gang violence and seeking asylum.

Told in alternating first person points of view, THE RADIUS OF US is a story of love, sacrifice, and the journey from victim to survivor. It’s about a boy from El Salvador, who ran from a city torn-through with violence, looking for a safe place to call home. It’s about an American girl who no longer feels safe anywhere, except maybe when she’s with him. And most importantly, THE RADIUS OF US is about two people struggling to overcome trauma and find healing in love.

I’m especially enthusiastic to share this story with librarians and library patrons, because for thirty-three years, libraries have been my refuge, and librarians have been the ones that welcomed me in.

Sixth grade is rough under any circumstances, but for a nerdy-smart girl moving from a neighborhood public school to an incredibly snooty private school—where all of the other kids had been swimming together at their country club since the moment they first landed in the water? Well, let’s just say these circumstances added some extra challenges. In a place that felt so foreign and unwelcoming, the library was my safe haven. Mrs. Dottie Risley—with her polka-dot dresses and her big white hair—she never once made me feel that I didn’t belong. She never asked why I was so desperate to learn or so anxious to find another story that would take me far from that school. All she did was point me through the stacks in the right direction. She told me that the books were always there, waiting to welcome me in, and I believed her.

Since that time, I have always been drawn to the experiences of people stuck-in-between, and I’ve written stories of kids who are coming of age and finding love in places where they never quite belong. Love stories can be a powerful antidote to the hate, fear, and misunderstanding that plague our society. THE RADIUS OF US deals with thorny issues, which I believe we need to see through the eyes of love.

I’d love to meet some of your readers! For those I can’t reach in person, beginning in January, I’ll be doing book club visits via Skype with schools and libraries that can get at least ten readers together who have read the book. To set up a visit, please contact: Megan Beatie at MB Communications at (818) 678-6288 or And please feel free to visit my website at to contact me or for more information.

Thank you in advance for your support!

Best wishes,
Marie Marquardt

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