Miklowitz, Gloria D.
Gloria D. Miklowitz
Born May 18, 1927, in New York, NY; daughter of Simon (president of a steamship company) and Ella (a homemaker; maiden name, Goldberg) Dubov; married Julius Miklowitz (a college professor); children: Paul Stephen, David Jay. Education: Attended Hunter College (Now Hunter College of the City University of New York), 1944-45; University of Michigan, B.A., 1948; New York University, graduate study, 1948. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Jewish.
Home— 5255 Vista Miguel Dr., La Canada, CA 91011. Agent— Marilyn Marlow, Curtis Brown Ltd., 10 Astor Place, New York, NY 10003.
Writer, 1952—. U.S. Naval Ordnance Test Station, Pasadena, CA, scriptwriter, 1952-57; Pasadena City College, Pasadena, instructor, 1971-80; instructor for Writers Digest School.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Southern California Council of Literature for Children and Young People.
Child Study Association of America's Children's Books of the Year selection, 1969, for The Zoo Was My World, and 1975, for Harry Truman; Outstanding Science Books for Children selection, National Council for Social Studies and the Children's Book Council, 1977, for Earthquake!, and 1978, for Save That Raccoon!; New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age selection, 1980, for Did You Hear What Happened to Andrea?, 1981, for The Love Bombers, and 1982, for The Young Tycoons; Western Australia Young Reader Book Award, 1984, for Did You Hear What Happened to Andrea?; Iowa Books for Young Adults Poll, 1984, for Close to the Edge, 1986, for The War between the Classes, 1989, for After the Bomb, and 1989, for Good-Bye Tomorrow; Humanitas Prize for humanitarian values, 1985, for CBS Schoolbreak Special presentation of The Day the Senior Class Got Married; Emmy Award for Best Children's Special, 1986, for CBS Schoolbreak Special presentation of The War between the Classes; Recommended Books for Reluctant YA Readers selection, 1987, for Good-Bye Tomorrow and Secrets Not Meant to Be Kept; International Reading Association Young Adult Choices selection, 1989, for Secrets Not Meant to Be Kept; Bucks Herald(England) Top Teen Award, 1990; Quick Pick, YALSA, New York Public Library Book for the Teenage, 1990, for Anything to Win; Recommended Book for the Reluctant Young Reader, American Library Association, 1994, for Desperate Pursuit; Sugarman Award, Washington Independent Writers Legal and Educational Fund, 1999, for excellence in children's literature; Notable book for older readers from Association of Jewish Libraries, 2002, for Secrets in the House of Delgado.
FICTION; FOR YOUNG ADULTS
Turning Off, Putnam (New York, NY), 1973.
A Time to Hurt, a Time to Heal, Tempo Books (New York, NY), 1974.
Runaway Mother, Tempo Books (New York, NY), 1977.
Unwed Mother, Tempo Books (New York, NY), 1977.
Did You Hear What Happened to Andrea?, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1979.
The Love Bombers, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1980.
Before Love, Tempo Books (New York, NY), 1982.
Close to the Edge, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1983.
Carrie Loves Superman, Tempo Books (New York, NY), 1983.
The Day the Senior Class Got Married, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1983.
The War between the Classes, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1985.
After the Bomb (with teacher's guide), Scholastic (New York, NY), 1985.
Love Story, Take Three, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1986.
Good-Bye Tomorrow, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1987.
After the Bomb: Week One, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1987.
The Emerson High Vigilantes, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1988.
Suddenly Super Rich, Bantam (New York, NY), 1989.
Anything to Win, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1989.
Standing Tall, Looking Good, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1991.
Desperate Pursuit, Bantam (New York, NY), 1992.
The Killing Boy, Bantam (New York, NY), 1993.
Past Forgiving, Simon and Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.
Camouflage, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1998.
Masada: The Last Fortress, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1998.
Secrets in the House of Delgado, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2001.
The Enemy Has a Face, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 2003.
(With Wesley A. Young) The Zoo Was My World, Dutton (New York, NY), 1969.
Harry Truman (biography), illustrated by Janet Scabrini, Putnam (New York, NY), 1975.
Paramedics, Scholastic Book Services (New York, NY), 1977.
Nadia Comaneci (biography), Tempo Books (New York, NY), 1977.
Earthquake!, illustrated by William Jaber, Mesner (New York, NY), 1977.
Save That Raccoon!, illustrated by St. Tamara, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1978.
Tracy Austin (biography), Tempo Books (New York, NY), 1978.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (biography), Tempo Books (New York, NY), 1978.
Steve Cauthen (biography), Tempo Books (New York, NY), 1978.
Natalie Dunn, Roller Skating Champion (biography), Tempo Books (New York, NY), 1979.
Roller Skating, Tempo Books (New York, NY), 1979.
Movie Stunts and the People Who Do Them, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1980.
(With Madeleine Yates) The Young Tycoons: Ten Success Stories, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1981.
FICTION FOR CHILDREN
Barefoot Boy, Follett (Chicago, IL), 1964.
The Zoo That Moved, illustrated by Don Madden, Follett (Chicago, IL), 1968.
The Parade Starts at Noon, Putnam (New York, NY), 1969.
The Marshmallow Caper, illustrated by Cheryl Pelavin, Putnam (New York, NY), 1971.
Sad Song, Happy Song, illustrated by Earl Thollander, Putnam (New York, NY), 1973.
Ghastly Ghostly Riddles, Scholastic Book Services (New York, NY), 1977.
(With Peter Desberg) Good Sport Jokes, illustrated by Laurie Burruss, Readers Digest Services (New York, NY), 1977.
(With Peter Desberg) Riddles for a Scary Night, illustrated by Laurie Burruss, Readers Digest Services (New York, NY), 1977.
(With Peter Desberg) Win, Lose, or Wear a Tie: Sports Riddles, illustrated by Dave Ross, Random House (New York, NY), 1980.
Contributor to anthologies of children's stories, and to periodicals, including Sports Illustrated, American Girl, Seventeen, Hadassah, Writer, and Publishers Weekly.
Author's archives included in the De Grummond Collection, University of Southern Mississippi.
Did You Hear What Happened to Andrea? was adapted for a television move, Andrea's Story: A Hitchhiking Tragedy, ABC-TV, 1983, video recording released as Did You Hear What Happened to Andrea?, New Kid Home Video (Santa Monica, CA), 1997; The Day the Senior Class Got Married was adapted for a television movie of the same title, CBS-TV, 1985; The War between the Classes was adapted for a television movie of the same title, CBS-TV, 1986.
The author of numerous books for young readers, Gloria D. Miklowitz began writing for children in 1964. Her works include picture books for the young, nonfiction for juvenile readers, and young-adult novels. It is this last category for which Miklowitz is best known, penning tales for teens that challenge and inform, that neither shy away from serious problems nor paint a too-negative picture of the world. In her long list of young-adult novels she has tackled contemporary social problems including child abuse, rape, AIDS, cults, teen suicide, prejudice, the aftermath of nuclear attack, date rape, steroid abuse, and obsessive relationships. Some of her best-known novels include Did You Hear What Happened to Andrea?, The War between the Classes, Secrets Not Meant to Be Kept, Anything to Win, Desperate Pursuit, and Past Forgiving, several of which have been turned into popular television movies. Miklowitz has also branched out into historical fiction with the 1998 Masada: The Last Fortress and the 2001 book Secrets in the House of Delgado. And with The Enemy Has a Face, from 2003, Miklowitz deals with contemporary international problems—the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—in a novel of mystery and suspense. "I write because I like to try on different lives through my characters," Miklowitz explained on the Random House Web site, "and because I want to help young people find answers to their problems." She also noted in author's comments for her entry to St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, "I feel a special kinship with young adults, maybe because my own teen years are still vivid. Today's young people, however, face much more difficult problems and issues than any previous generation. That's what I like to write about—kids trying to come to terms with life today, trying to find healthy options to what seem insurmountable problems."
Miklowitz is particularly noted for her realism and attention to the telling detail, much of which comes from diligent research for each book. For example, before writing about cults in The Love Bombers, she spent time with Moonies—followers of Sun Myung Moon and his Unification Church—in California; prior to writing Standing Tall, Looking Good, about three Los Angeles teens who join the military, she talked with army personnel and veterans to be sure she got dialogue and nomenclature correct; preparing
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for Did You Hear What Happened to Andrea?, Miklowitz worked on a rape hotline for a year and talked with both victims and police. "Obtaining the information I need is always interesting," Miklowitz once commented, "because it taxes my ingenuity in tracking down what I need to know. Sometimes I gather so much material it's hard to keep track of it all. I always fear I may have left some stone unturned and therefore keep digging for all sides to an issue."
A Slow Start
Miklowitz was a self-confessed slow-starter in reading. She did not like to read at first, but when she finally got the knack, she was seldom to be seen without a book in hand. She graduated from Nancy Drew to adult literature by the time she was twelve; as a third grader she wrote a story, "My Brother Goo Goo," which not only earned her an A grade, but also the reputation for being a writer when the composition was read aloud in the school auditorium. As Miklowitz once explained, "My family made a big deal out of it, so I said I was going to be a writer. I didn't even really know what it meant, but that label was put on me at an early age."
Graduating from the University of Michigan with an English degree, Miklowitz returned to her native New York City, working in publishing for a time as a secretary and taking night classes at New York University. She then married and moved West, to Pasadena, California, with her professor-researcher husband. There she found work for a time as a secretary for the Naval Ordnance Test Station, and when the U.S. Navy began making training and public relations films, Miklowitz landed a job in script development, work she credits in turning her into both a thorough researcher and a solid plot-builder. However, when her second son was born she left that job to become a full-time mother.
From Consumer to Creator
Like many creative stay-at-home mothers, Miklowitz soon became interested in the picture books she was sharing with her children. They would read about ten different titles together each week, and she thought she could do better. Taking a writing class at a local community college alerted her to a contest by a children's book publisher. She entered a manuscript and won. Her first book, Barefoot Boy, was thus published in 1964. As her children grew older, the themes and content of her books also changed. From picture books she first expanded to nonfiction, with biographies and topics that interested her and her children, from roller skating to sports jokes.
Her first young-adult book came about as the result of a conversation with her cleaning lady and the problems the woman was having with one of her sons, who was involved in drugs. At the same time she had also been talking with the director of the Los Angeles Zoo about a program they had for youth becoming involved in animal rescue. Miklowitz saw the possibility for a novel in this, and the result was Turning Off, her first young-adult novel. Throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Miklowitz turned out one well-received and well-researched book after another. Her first break-through work, Did You Hear What Happened to Andrea?, looks at rape from a number of perspectives: from that of the victim, Andrea, to her boyfriend, family, friends, police, and the rapist himself. Adapted as a television movie, the book set Miklowitz's name solidly among the leading young-adult writers of the day. She followed this success up with The Love Bombers, investigating the world of cults in the tale of Jenna who sets out to find her brother Jeremy, who has dropped out of college to join one such cult. Child abuse is at the center of Secrets Not Meant to Be Kept, which features the teenager Adri, who suddenly confronts the memory of abuse she suffered at a day-care center as a child. Miklowitz deals with another headline subject, AIDS and AIDS-related complex, or ARC, in Good-Bye Tomorrow. Once again, Miklowitz fashions a strong contemporary story to deal with this growing social problem. Alex is a teenage swimmer who contracted the disease through a bad blood transfusion. In After the Bomb and its sequel, After the Bomb: Week One, Miklowitz deals with the aftermath of a mistaken Russian nuclear attack on Los Angeles by focusing on teenage runner Philip Singer and his brother Matt as they help to rescue their mother and aid other victims.
School experiments in real-life problems are at the heart of The War between the Classes, in which socioeconomic prejudice is examined, and in The Day the Senior Class Got Married, in which high school students role-play being married. Vigilante justice is the theme of The Emerson High Vigilantes, while steroid abuse informs the story of star athlete Cam in Anything to Win.
Problems Contemporary and Historical
In the 1991 novel Standing Tall, Looking Good, Miklowitz provides "considerable background . . . for anyone curious about army life," according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. In the novel, three teens from very different Los Angeles backgrounds meet, conflict, and finally coalesce into a team during basic training. In Desperate Pursuit, Nicole becomes the "object of a dangerous obsession," as another Publishers Weekly contributor noted, when she leaves her old boyfriend, Michael, for a new love, Shane. The same reviewer praised Miklowitz for presenting a "a sober message about the nature of a healthy relationship and the value of self-respect." Another abusive relationship is the focus of Past Forgiving. Alex thinks her boyfriend Cliff is great, even though he puts her down and once even slaps her. But when he rapes her on a date she finally wakes up, knowing that some acts cannot be rationalized away. A writer for Publishers Weekly found this story both "engrossing and informative," while Booklist's Stephanie Zvirin noted that Miklowitz "manages to deliver a story with plenty of plot momentum."
A change of pace for Miklowitz was Masada: The Last Fortress, a historical novel about the fall of the last Jewish outpost against Rome as seen through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Simon Ben Eleazar. Booklist reviewer Ilene Cooper found this book "a powerful offering," one that demonstrates how "people can find hope, beauty, and even love in the midst of the most dire circumstances." Another historical offering is Secrets in the House of Delgado, set in Spain in 1492, when the infamous Spanish Inquisition is searching for religious heretics and Jews are being expelled from the country. With help from the Church, fourteen-year-old Maria, a Catholic orphan, becomes a servant in the home of the Delgados, a wealthy family of Jews who had converted to the Catholic faith. Forced to spy for the Church in exchange for her position, Maria must also confront questions of loyalty and betrayal, faith and bigotry. Booklist's Cooper, who called the book "a page-turner," also found that "the story shows depth and dimension." Cooper concluded, "Miklowitz does a fine job of making the Spanish Inquisition seem frighteningly real."
Miklowitz returns to the present day with her 2003 novel, The Enemy Has a Face. Netta and her family move to the United States from embattled Israel, only to encounter new dangers. When her brother Adam suddenly disappears, it is believed that he was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists, for Netta's father is a defense scientist whose work is vital to Israel. Netta turns investigator, combing Adam's computer files for clues to his disappearance. The family puts up fliers, but they and the police come up with nothing; no demands are made for Adam's release. Meanwhile, at school, Netta reluctantly makes the acquaintance of a young Palestinian boy, also recently immigrated. Finally, Netta must deal with her own prejudices when the police discover the real truth behind her brother's disappearance. Catherine Ensley, writing in School Library Journal, found the novel "almost unbearably suspenseful," and added that the plot will "keep readers turning pages as fast as they can." At the same time, Ensley also felt Miklowitz managed to present a "thoughtful examination of some of the reasons behind the age-old strife between Palestinians and Israelis." Similarly, Booklist reviewer Gillian Engberg noted that the author "tells a suspenseful, heart-wrenching story that conveys both the facts and anger behind the ancient Middle-East conflict." In Kliatt, Claire Rosser concluded that Miklowitz "tells this suspenseful story well."
If you enjoy the works of Gloria D. Miklowitz
If you enjoy the works of Gloria D. Miklowitz, you may also want to check out the following books:
Hadley Irwin, Can't Hear You Listening, 1990.
Margaret Willey, Saving Lenny, 1990.
Jerry Spinelli, Maniac Magee, 1990.
Miklowitz once summed up her writing career: "It comes as a surprise to find I have written a large body of work on many important social issues, and to realize that what I have written has been enjoyed and has enriched many young people throughout the world."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Something about the Author Autobiography Series, Volume 17, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1994.
St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Booklist, May 1, 1995, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Past Forgiving, p. 1563; October 1, 1998, Ilene Cooper, review of Masada: The Last Fortress, p. 338; October 1, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of Secrets in the House of Delgado, p. 331; June 1, 2003, Gillian Engberg, review of The Enemy Has a Face, p. 1778.
Kliatt, May, 2003, Claire Rosser, review of The Enemy Has a Face, p. 11.
Publishers Weekly, October 9, 1987; January 4, 1991, review of Standing Tall, Looking Good, p. 74; January 13, 1992, review of Desperate Pursuit, p. 58; June 26, 1995, review of Past Forgiving, p. 108; January 12, 1998, review of Camouflage, p. 60.
School Library Journal, July, 2003, Catherine Ensley, review of The Enemy Has a Face, p. 133.
Writer, March, 1994, Gloria D. Miklowitz, "Writing the Juvenile Short Story," pp. 13-16.