Something Starry and Wonderful

Imaginary Girls got its first trade review! In Publishers Weekly! And it has a STAR!

My first-ever starred review!

I just want to go off on a quick tangent before I share the link for this review with you, because I like tangents, don’t you know me at all? A good tangent can take me away for miles. I realize some of you are now scrolling past my tangent to get to the link, but I don’t care, I’m veering off with it anyway. So a long, long time ago when I was a young, naive writer thinking an MFA was the answer to my dreams (it wasn’t) I applied to graduate school. I was a senior in college at the time, and I’d applied to seven schools, or six, I can’t remember, mostly in or near New York City because I thought living in New York City was the answer to my dreams (actually I think it was and is). Out of them all, my top-choice school was Columbia University. I never thought I’d get in. But lo and behold one day the director of the MFA program at Columbia made a phone call to tell me some news. But the director chose to make this phone call on the one day of the year that I went around questioning everything, since I’m so gullible and people always fool me. That’s right: April 1, aka April Fools’ Day.

So there I was, walking innocently up the stairs in my dorm when someone on my floor told me I had a message. This was before normal people had cell phones, readers. This was when, if you lived on campus in a dorm you shared ONE PHONE in the hall with everyone on your floor. Well, better-endowed colleges than ours had phones in the rooms back then… we didn’t. We had a PBX phone in the hall that could be used to call anywhere on campus, but nowhere outside it. It also accepted incoming calls, though there wasn’t any voicemail. You had to trust your dorm-mates to leave you accurate messages. So I had a message, my dorm-mate told me, someone—she said the director’s name—from Columbia University with good news.


I didn’t believe her. Hahaha very funny. I knew it was April Fools’ Day, so I kept walking up the stairs to my floor.

There was a message. It was scrawled on a scrap of paper and pinned to my door and I squinted for a long while trying to make sure… This man whose name I sort of recognized (the handwriting was hard to read)… from the Writing Division at (I think, the handwriting was hard to read) Columbia University… had called my dorm… saying he had good news.


Was this a terrible April Fools’ Day prank? Surely many of my dorm-mates knew I’d applied to graduate school… did I tell them which programs? Was someone messing with me? Would anyone be so cruel as to leave a fake message hinting I’d just gotten in? Was this funny? Should I be laughing now?

Well, no. The message was real. I did get the phone call saying I’d been accepted to my first-choice MFA program on April Fools’ Day, and it wasn’t an April Fool. Of course, the universe likes to prolong news sometimes, so of course when I called the number back I got voicemail, and of course I had to wait a whole 18 hours or so for the next morning, on April 2, to call back and find out for sure… but yeah. Getting good news on April Fools’ Day is always hard to believe, right? You want to believe it… part of you does believe it… and yet the other part, the part desperately not wanting to be a fool, tells you to be sensible, you big dummy, of course it’s not true.

Why am I telling you this story? Because guess what day I got the news of the starred (!!!) PW review? On Friday… April Fools’ Day!

I was pretty sure—almost entirely positive, actually—that the starred review was not a joke, because my agent and editor would not joke so cruelly with me (really, they are very nice people). But… well, of course, I did spend the weekend wondering. I did tell myself not to believe it until I saw it online on Monday. I did want to make sure it was, you know, REAL.

It’s real! Here’s the review if you want to read it…

Oh, wait, IF YOU ARE IN ANY WAY WORRIED ABOUT SPOILERS DO NOT READ. The review is great with keeping secrets, but it’s hard not to say what the book is about without telling some things, you know?

Here’s the review!

So the world knows: This wouldn’t have happened without my editor, Julie—she knows all the hard work that went into this manuscript! Thank you for everything, Julie! And a very special thank-you to Michael, my agent—I think this starred review might be meant as a birthday present for him, since he had the faith to sign me based on just two chapters of Imaginary Girls! Happy Birthday, Michael!

Now… I just hope no one from PW comments here and says, “April Fools!”

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