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Brande, Robin

Brande, Robin

PERSONAL:

Married. Education: Earned J.D. Hobbies and other interests: Backpacking, watching movies, reading.

CAREER:

Full-time writer. Has also worked as a trial lawyer, entrepreneur, community college instructor, yoga instructor, and insurance agent.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Best Books for Young Adults citation, American Library Association (ALA) Young Adult Library Services Association division (YALSA), Amelia Bloomer List inclusion, ALA Feminist Task Force, and Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies citation, National Council of Social Studies/Children's Book Council, all 2008, all for Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature.

WRITINGS:

Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature, Knopf (New York, NY), 2007.

ADAPTATIONS:

Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature was adapted as an audiobook, Random House Audio.

SIDELIGHTS:

Robin Brande's first novel, Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature, explores what happens when a teenager is forced to reconcile her faith, her sense of what is right, and her growing interest in science. Fifteen-year-old Mena has been kicked out of her church for taking a stand on bullying, and she enters high school feeling like an outcast. When a science unit on evolution inspires controversy once again, Mena explores what she believes and learns to stand up for her beliefs.

"I grew up in a church like Mena's, and I, too, was kicked out right before high school—although it was for a really bizarre and stupid reason, not at all as noble as Mena's," Brande explained in an online interview for Becky's Book Reviews. As she read news stories about the fight over teaching evolution in schools, "the more I wondered how a girl like me would have dealt with that fight in her own school. I wanted to explore how—or whether—a person of faith could reconcile her religious beliefs with her belief in science." As she noted on the Random House Web site, one of the benefits of writing her novel was "articulating for myself what it is I believe about God and evolution. It's something I never really threw light on until I had to put it in the mouths and the heads of the various characters in this book."

Critics praised Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature for its insightful yet humorous exploration of faith, conformity, and everyday teen problems. "Brande's buoyant story thoughtfully takes on debates both timeworn and current," a Kirkus Reviews writer stated. "The … slow revelation of the back story will hook readers from the start," predicted a Publish-ers Weekly critic. The reviewer added that while the creationist characters are somewhat one-dimensional, Brande's "fluid storytelling offers thought-provoking situations and ideas." In Booklist John Peters noted of Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature that "readers will appreciate this vulnerable but ultimately resilient protagonist," as well as the novel's "unusually appealing supporting cast." Mena's "heartfelt struggle to reconcile her belief in God and in science is portrayed with grace, humor, and humility," a School Library Journal reviewer concluded.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 1, 2007, John Peters, review of Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature, pp. 55-56.

Horn Book, September-October, 2007, Patty Campbell, review of Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature, pp. 567-568.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007, review of Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature.

Kliatt, March, 2008, Susan Allison, review of Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature, p. 42.

Publishers Weekly, August 6, 2007, review of Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature, p. 190.

School Library Journal, April, 2008, "A Question of Faith," p. 61.

ONLINE

Becky's Book Reviews,http://blbooks.blogspot.com/ (February 4, 2008), interview with Brande.

Edge of the Forest Online,http://www.theedgeoftheforest.com/ (September 1, 2007), Kelly Herold, interview with Brande.

Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (October 14, 2008), "Author Spotlight: Robin Brande."

Robin Brande Home Page,http://robinbrande.com (October 14, 2008).

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