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The serpent king : a novel
2016
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Struggling through his senior year of high school, where he is targeted by bullies because of his father's extreme faith, Dill teams up with fellow outcast Lydia, who is determined to escape their tiny town by pursuing a career in fashion, and Travis, whose obsession with an epic book series and a fangirl turns his reality into real-life fantasy. Simultaneous eBook. - (Baker & Taylor)

The son of a Pentecostal preacher faces his personal demons as he and his two outcast friends try to make it through their senior year of high school in rural Forrestville, Tennessee, without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. - (Baker & Taylor)

Named to ten BEST OF THE YEAR lists and selected as a William C. Morris Award Winner, The Serpent King is the critically acclaimed, much-beloved story of three teens who find themselves--and each other--while on the cusp of graduating from high school with hopes of leaving their small-town behind.

This gorgeous paperback edition with a full-color step-back cover will have teens everywhere itching to discover the book that everyone is talking about. Perfect for fans of John Green's Turtles All the Way Down.

"Move over, John Green; Zentner is coming for you." —The New York Public Library

“Will fill the infinite space that was left in your chest after you finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” —BookRiot.com 
 

Dill isn't the most popular kid at his rural Tennessee high school. After his father fell from grace in a public scandal that reverberated throughout their small town, Dill became a target. Fortunately, his two fellow misfits and best friends, Travis and Lydia, have his back.

But as they begin their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. His only escapes are music and his secret feelings for Lydia--neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending--one that will rock his life to the core.
 
Debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.

“A story about friendship, family and forgiveness, it’s as funny and witty as it is utterly heartbreaking.” —PasteMagazine.com

“A brutally honest portrayal of teen life . . . [and] a love letter to the South from a man who really understands it.” —Mashable.com

“I adored all three of these characters and the way they talked to and loved one another.”—New York Times
- (Random House, Inc.)

Author Biography

Before becoming a writer, JEFF ZENTNER was a singer-songwriter and guitarist who recorded with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Debbie Harry. He lives in Nashville with his wife and son. Committed to making creativity a part of his everyday life, Zentner wrote both his debut novel, The Serpent King, and his follow-up book, Goodbye Days, on his iPhone while taking the bus to and from work. You can follow Zentner on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter at @jeffzentner. - (Random House, Inc.)

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Booklist Reviews

In small-town Forrestville, Tennessee, broody musician Dill Early begins his senior year with a general feeling of dread because it means his best friend, Lydia, will be leaving for college once they graduate. As the son of a snake-handling Pentecostal preacher currently in prison, Dill is unable to escape his father's shadow. Lydia, on the other hand, is an outspoken blogger and fashionista, who can't wait to get out of Dodge. Completing their trio is Travis, a gentle giant who carries a staff and is obsessed with fantasy novels. In chapters that shift among the teens' perspectives, Zentner effectively shows the aspirations, fears, and dark secrets they harbor during their final year together. A musician himself, Zentner transitions to prose easily in his debut, pulling in complex issues that range from struggles with faith to abuse to grief. Refreshingly, this novel isn't driven by romance—though it rears its head—but by the importance of pursuing individual passions and forging one's own path. A promising new voice in YA. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 9 Up—The son of a snake-handling preacher imprisoned for possessing child pornography, Dill escapes his controlling mother and social ostracism with the help of his two friends, Lydia and Travis. As the trio round out their senior year, it becomes overwhelmingly apparent the different paths their lives are going to take—Travis is content working in a lumberyard and diving into a fantasy world from a book series in his spare time, while Lydia runs a popular fashion blog and is intent on attending New York University. As for Dill, he yearns for more than Forrestville, TN, can offer, but he feels compelled to honor his father's legacy and his mother's domineering wishes. As Dill grapples with a crush on Lydia and a mother who wants him to drop out of high school, a YouTube clip of Dill singing and playing guitar begins to garner attention. Dill must decide among what his heart wants, what his family needs, and his own desire for a life outside of their small town; "If you're going to live," he says, "you might as well do painful, brave, and beautiful things." Zentner offers a contemporary young adult novel that explores many issues common with teenagers today—bullying, life after high school, and the coming together and breaking apart of high school friendships. Thorough characterization and artful prose allow readers to intimately experience the highs and lows of these three friends. VERDICT Recommended for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell.—Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX

[Page 111]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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