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Waiting For Augusta
by Jessica Lawson
May 10, 2016
Simon & Schuster
With a fresh voice, lots of adventure, and a healthy dose of magic, from the author of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher and Nooks & Crannies—which School Library Journal called “original, engaging, and funny” in a starred review—comes a profound tale of love, loss, and family.
Eleven-year-old Benjamin Putter has a lump in his throat, and he’s certain it’s a golf ball. He knows it sounds crazy, but everything’s been topsy-turvy since his father died last month. And he doesn’t know how to fix it. Then, one day, something starts tugging at Ben, telling him to hurry to Augusta, Georgia—home of the most famous golf course in the world.
Ben might be going a little crazy, but escaping Hilltop, Alabama, sounds like a darn good idea. (And just maybe it will make that lump go away.) As he makes his way to Augusta, Ben partners up with a mysterious runaway named Noni, and they embark on a journey full of surprises—and possibly magic—at every turn.
Praise for Waiting For Augusta
"Colorful, quirky, and full of heart, with an ending readers won’t forget.""
– Ingrid Law, Newbery Honor-winning author of Savvy, Scumble, and Switch
"A whimsical, heartwarming, multilayered story about finding grace enough to accept the flaws in those we love and courage enough to act from our most deeply held beliefs."— Kirkus Reviews
It’s 1973 and 11 year old Ben’s golf-loving father has just died. Ben swears the lump in his throat is a golf ball and he doesn’t know how to get rid of it. Something urges Ben to runaway to Augusta, Georgia, home of the most famous golf course in the world. Ben, and the mysterious girl he meets, Noni, set out on their journey and encounter one surprise after the other!
Jessica Lawson’s Waiting for Augusta is a tender, moving tale full of heart, memorable characters, and extraordinary surprises! Lawson explores many significant themes in this book- grief, guilt, family, racism, and more- and does so with beautiful finesse. With a charming and addictive pitch-perfect voice, and sparkling storytelling, Waiting for Augusta wraps itself around you in the gentlest of hugs. Lawson does a superb job of mixing humor and heart to create something simply magical...and Waiting for Augusta is sprinkled with magic of all kinds!
Ben and Noni’s journey from Alabama to Georgia is bursting with exciting adventure and entertaining mayhem, from bus crashes, train hopping, breaking and entering, and more! Young readers will delight in each new experience and obstacle the characters face and overcome. But Waiting for Augusta isn’t just shenanigans and adventure, Lawson deftly explores the topics of racism and segregation with age-appropriate authenticity.
Of course, the heart of this story are Ben and Noni, two such engaging, endearing, lovable characters! Lawson gives such life and personality to both of them and young readers will find them so likable and relatable.
Waiting for Augusta ends with a spectacular and unforgettable twist that will leave readers breathless and thoughtful.
my final thoughts: Bursting with so much humor and heart, Waiting for Augusta is a such a special middle-grade novel that will leave a lasting impression on readers of all ages.
What three words best describe your book, Waiting for Augusta?
Journey, Adventure, Heart
Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give Waiting for Augusta a try?
An 11-year-old Alabama boy teams up with a secretive girl for a wild journey full of chickens, train-hopping, mischief, talking ashes, and plenty of surprises.
Grab a copy of Waiting for Augusta and answer the following:
Chapter 3, where Ben meets Noni
Page 314 in the advanced copy (hardcover not printed yet)
Mrs. Clucksy’s Palace (a fancy chicken coop that Ben sneaks into)
flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser?
It was as I was shuffling my legs in the coal, moving instead of thinking, that I accidentally kicked my father off the train.
What inspired Waiting for Augusta? How did the idea come to be?
My husband and I were standing in my kitchen with my brother-in-law, Evan, and for some reason we were all discussing what we’d want done with our remains after we died. We all chose cremation and I said to Evan (a huge golf fan), “You probably want to be scattered at Patty Jewett (the local municipal golf course he and my husband play at).” He replied, “No way! I’d want to be scattered at Augusta.” And with that, the seed was planted.
Can you tell us a bit about your characters, Ben and Noni? What makes them unique, what do you love about them?
Ben is an introspective artist who wants desperately to make his barbecue-and-golf-loving father proud of him. I love that this journey challenges him to understand the gap between him and his father, and that Ben both embraces the miracle of extra time with a lost loved one, and also uses it to say the words that he couldn’t say while his father was alive.
Noni is a bold bossypants with hidden reasons for wanting to join Ben. I love her brash manner of speaking and that, by the end of the book, she finds a way to crack open her hard shell and let Ben in.
What do you hope readers will walk away with after reading Waiting for Augusta?
I hope they’ll walk away with a sense that it’s never too late to make a connection with someone you care about, that the world is flawed but still full of possibility, and that they can find the courage to act on their beliefs.
What is your all-time favorite middle-grade book and/or character?
I’ve got lots of favorite books, but Danny The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl is one of my biggest loves. I’ve read it about a million times. As for a favorite character, Theodosia Throckmorton from RL LaFevers’s Theodosia series is hard to beat!
What do you love about writing middle-grade novels? Why do you think middle-grade literature is so popular and important?
Middle grade readers are super discerning and won’t turn the page unless you give them a solid reason to, which I love. At the same time, they’ve got these wide open hearts and minds that make it a joy to write for them. The possibilities are endless. MG literature is so important because it offers both encouragement for dreams and imagination, and a safe place to explore themes/issues that are coming to light during the middle grade years.
Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at making up nonsense songs with my kids.
I’m really embarrassed to admit how afraid I am of the pull-until-it-pops-open biscuit tubes.
The last great book I read was Secret Coders, Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes
If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by Waiting for Augusta, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
“The 18th hole” would be a green, golf-ball-shaped cupcake topped with an edible paintbrush. It would taste like sweet grass and barbecue smoke and peaches, and make you think about watercolors and moonlight.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jessica Lawson is the author of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher, a book that Publishers Weekly called “a delightfully clever debut” in a starred review, and Nooks & Crannies, a Junior Library Guild Selection and recipient of three starred reviews. Her latest middle grade novel is Waiting for Augusta. You can visit her at JessicaLawsonBooks.com.
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