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The Storyteller
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The Storyteller
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With the mystery of Maureen Johnson and Brittany Cavallaro and the historical intrigue of Romanov, this genre-bending YA will pull readers into one girl's journey of discovering the impossible tale of...
With the mystery of Maureen Johnson and Brittany Cavallaro and the historical intrigue of Romanov, this genre-bending YA will pull readers into one girl's journey of discovering the impossible tale of...
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  • With the mystery of Maureen Johnson and Brittany Cavallaro and the historical intrigue of Romanov, this genre-bending YA will pull readers into one girl's journey of discovering the impossible tale of a long-lost aunt—and through her, the importance of being true to yourself.

    It's not every day you discover you might be related to Anastasia...or that the tragic princess actually survived her assassination attempt and has been living as the woman you know as Aunt Anna.

    For Jess Morgan, who is growing tired of living her life to please everyone else, discovering her late aunt's diaries shows her she's not the only one struggling to hide who she really is. But was her aunt truly a Romanov princess? Or is this some elaborate hoax?

    With the help of a supremely dorky but undeniably cute local college student named Evan, Jess digs into the century-old mystery.

    But soon Jess realizes there's another, bigger truth waiting to be revealed: Jess Morgan. Because if she's learned anything from Aunt Anna, it's that only you can write your own story.

About the Author-

  • Kathryn Williams is the author of five books, including four young adult novels. From the South originally, she lives with her family near Portland, Maine, and teaches at The Telling Room, a nonprofit creative writing center for kids and teens, where she helps youth find and tell their own stories.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    November 15, 2021
    A hidden trove of diaries connects a New Hampshire teen with the Russian princess Anastasia Romanov. While helping to clear out her late great-great-aunt Anna's house, 17-year-old Jess uncovers a chest full of diaries written in Russian hidden away in the attic. She enlists the help of Evan, a college student majoring in Russian, to help her translate them. What they discover leads them to believe that Anna, who lived a quiet life married to Jess' great-great-uncle Henry, may have been the Russian royal who was rumored to have escaped when the rest of her family was executed in 1918. As Jess and Evan work their way through the diaries, readers are treated to long excerpts in which young Anastasia details her unlikely escape to the United States via Western Europe. Jess strives to please everyone around her by acting like someone she's not--from her mother, who wants her to attend Harvard, to her boyfriend, who knows her as nothing but easygoing and agreeable--and she finds parallels to her own struggles in Anastasia's existence as an imposter. Jess' present-day sections set in 2007 are the more engaging of the two storylines, though the influence of Anna's narrative on Jess' life is noteworthy and satisfying by the time the tale is untangled. Apart from Jess' best friend, a Chinese American transracial adoptee, main characters read as White. An interesting take on storytelling and identity. (author's note, sources, further reading) (Fiction. 13-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 15, 2021
    Making a persuasive point about the hazards and temptations of impostorhood, Williams (Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous) interweaves two tales in this gently propulsive romance. An aspiring writer in 2007, contemporary narrator Jess Morgan, 17 and cued as white, feels pressure to live up to her appearance-oriented mother’s rigorous academic expectations while simultaneously cultivating a cool-girl facade for her popular boyfriend. Story line number two comes into play when Jess encounters a cache of journals that belonged to her deceased great-great-aunt Anna, and hires geeky, cute pale-skinned college student Evan Hermann to translate them from the original Russian. The pair soon finds that the journals are written from the point of view of Anastasia Romanov, the believed-executed daughter of Russia’s last czar. The subsequent telling alternates between the duo’s modern-day sleuthing and translated journal excerpts from a century back that provide a beguiling chronicle of Anastasia’s life as an indulged royal, then a prisoner with her family, and later as a destitute political pawn on the run. As the story behind the diaries eventually becomes clear, it confirms Jess’s decision to strive for a more authentic self. Characters who come on the scene with seemingly full-fledged back stories and Jess’s chatty, self-examining narrative make for a breezily engaging read. Ages 13–up. Agent: Elizabeth Rudnick, Mackenzie Wolf.

  • Booklist

    December 1, 2021
    Grades 9-12 Jess is constantly pretending to be someone she's not. She plays soccer when she'd rather play piano, applies to Harvard when she'd rather go to California, attends parties with her boyfriend when she wants to stay home. Soon, all the pretending exhausts her, and when she finds a trunk full of her great-aunt's diaries, Jess throws herself into finding out more about who the woman was before her death. After translating the diaries from Russian, with the help of Evan, a Russian-language student, she discovers that Great-Aunt Anna might be Anastasia Romanov, who survived her family's assassination. As Jess investigates, she finds her own self and how to be the person she is rather than the one others want her to be. Williams returns with a genre-blending novel that is sure to grip readers to the very end, mixing mystery, romance, historical fiction, and a touch of purpose into one terrific experience. Readers will be engrossed with flashbacks of Anastasia, but they will also be encouraged by the message around finding your identity.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    March 1, 2022

    Gr 9 Up-Jess Morgan takes lying to herself to a whole new level, twisting herself into knots to fit in and please others. To those around her, she is a cheerful, upbeat, fun-loving high school girl with a boyfriend. In reality, she is incredibly introverted, easily overstimulated, and burned out by day-to-day life. She prefers reading or writing alone in her room to most social interactions. While helping her mom clean out a great-aunt's attic, she stumbles across diaries in a foreign language. With the help of a local college student studying Russian, she secretly translates the diaries and uncovers an incredible mystery as to the possible identity of Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov. As Jess unravels the lost woman's words, will she find a way to tell her own true story? Told in alternating chapters between present-day Jess and the mystery writer from the early 20th century, this is a book that will sit with readers, making them question what exactly is a person's truth. The author's note at the end gives further detail about the Romanovs. Characters are cued as middle-class and white. VERDICT This excellent, engaging mystery is a first purchase for school and public libraries.-Kristen Rademacher

    Copyright 2022 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus Reviews

    "Anna's narrative on Jess' life is noteworthy and satisfying by the time the tale is untangled... An interesting take on storytelling and identity" — Kirkus Reviews

    "A genre-blending novel that is sure to grip readers to the very end, mixing mystery, romance, historical fiction, and a touch of purpose into one terrific experience." — Booklist

    "This is a book that will sit with readers, making them question what exactly is a person's truth... This excellent, engaging mystery is a first purchase." — School Library Journal

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