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Gilbert, Barbara Snow 1954-

GILBERT, Barbara Snow 1954-

PERSONAL:

Born April 9, 1954, in Oklahoma City, OK; married; children: two daughters. Education: Colorado College, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1976; University of Texas—Austin, J.D. (with honors), 1979. Hobbies and other interests: Piano.

ADDRESSES:

Home and office—1121 Fenwick Pl., Oklahoma City, OK 73116. E-mail[email protected]; [email protected]

CAREER:

Attorney, mediator, writer. Practices law in Oklahoma City, OK, 1980—; mediator, Oklahoma City, 1994-2001; U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, law clerk, 2001—.

MEMBER:

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Oklahoma Bar Association, Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Alpha Theta.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Oklahoma Book Award, Oklahoma Center for the Book, 1997, Best Book of 1996, School Library Journal, and Books for the Teen Age, New York Public Library, 1997, all for Stone Water; Oklahoma Book Award, Oklahoma Center for the Book, 1998, for Broken Chords; Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers, Voice of Youth Advocates, and Books for the Teen Age, New York Public Library, both 2001, both for Paper Trail.

WRITINGS:

Stone Water, Front Street (Arden, NC), 1996.

Broken Chords, Front Street (Asheville, NC), 1997.

Paper Trail, Front Street (Asheville, NC), 2000.

SIDELIGHTS:

Attorney Barbara Snow Gilbert's first book for young adults, Stone Water, presents the agonizing dilemma teenager Grant faces in desiring to help his grandfather die with dignity. The son of a busy lawyer father and a mother who is a judge, the protagonist wrestles with the moral and legal complications of whether or not to follow his beloved grandfather's wishes to assist with his suicide. Deborah Stevenson of the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books praised Gilbert's "smooth and capable" writing and described Stone Water as an "intellectually challenging" look at a "compelling issue." Michael Cart, writing in Booklist, applauded Gilbert's "tackling the thorny subject… with courage and candor" and predicted the book will "stimulate thought and invite discussion" on a topic of significant current importance. Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Janet R. Mura wrote that "this excellent, poignant book should be on all school and public library shelves."

The protagonist of Broken Chords is also facing choices. Seventeen-year-old Clara, the concert pianist daughter of a conductor mother and father who is a former opera star, is to play in a competition that will reward the winner with a musical education at Julliard. One of her competitors, a young man she cares for, has some of the passion she lacks. Faced with years of rigorous practice and training, Clara is having doubts about pursuing a career in music when a two-week recuperation from a wrist injury gives her a chance to find out what it would be like not to. She goes forward to the competition during the last half of the book, which portrays her struggle with her decision. Clara's dilemma is one experienced by young people facing many careers, including sports and other visible fields, where the lure of celebrity, pressure to please parents, and their own enjoyment of their gift must be balanced against the cost. Clara's Russian teacher, for example, sacrificed everything, leaving her home and family for her art. Booklist's Hazel Rochman wrote that in Broken Chords, "the great pleasure… is that the complexity is not resolved. There are surprises all along the way." A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that "the strength of the novel lies not in the too-neatly orchestrated plot, but rather in the heroine's in-depth exploration of what she truly wants for herself."

As Paper Trail opens, fifteen-year-old Walker is hiding in a log after his mother and his dog are shot and as his father is being hunted by a right-wing Oklahoma paramilitary group called the Soldiers of God. The boy, whose name is not revealed until the end of the novel, has discovered that his father infiltrated the group for the FBI, bringing his family along as part of his cover, which has now been blown. Walker recalls memories, some factual some imaginary, of his life as a child, and enters into a real-time scenario that may or may not be. Gilbert has incorporated "scraps" throughout the story, consisting of actual snippets about militia and patriot groups that she has cut from newspapers, magazines, and books, to heighten the feeling of paranoia against which the boy's story is set. Booklist reviewer Frances Bradburn wrote, "this is unquestionably a book that will create thought-provoking discussion."

Writing for School Library Journal, Todd Morning felt that the narrative technique, using the scraps, "doesn't quite work" but added that many of the individual chapters are written "with a vividness that has the potential to keep young adventure fans on the edge of their seats." Kliatt 's Paula Rohrlick wrote that "there is no denying the power of the plot here… and the relevance of the issues of identity and betrayal, and of the antigovernment militia." Rohrlick felt that the survival story "will keep readers turning the pages."

Reviewers have compared Gilbert's writing to the work of Robert Cormier and Gary Paulsen, two popular young adult authors. In an interview for Teenreads.com, Gilbert told Tammy Currier, "It's flattering to be compared to writers like Cormier and Paulsen, authors whose work I like and respect very much." Gilbert offered her own thoughts on the patriot/militia movement and told Currier that she lived eight miles from the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, when it was bombed in 1995. She noted that it is now a part of her life experience, and "although not in any conscious way, it is surely a part of what I drew on to write Paper Trail. " Gilbert said she likes to write about big issues. "My young characters have to be very strong to deal with all I ask them to. That's one thing I like about writing about this age group. Also, knowing my books will be published as young adult books carries a special responsibility—not to soften or censor the material in any way, but to write it as honestly as I can."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 15, 1996, Michael Cart, review of Stone Water, p. 721; December 15, 1998, Hazel Rochman, review of Broken Chords, p. 748; July, 2000, Frances Bradburn, review of Paper Trail, p. 2018.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January, 1997, Deborah Stevenson, review of Stone Water, p. 170.

Horn Book, July, 2000, review of Paper Trail, p. 458.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 1996, p. 1532, review of Stone Water.

Kliatt, September, 2002, Paula Rohrlick, review of Paper Trail, p. 18; July, 2003, Susan G. Allison, review of Stone Water, p. 21.

Publishers Weekly, November 18, 1996, review of Stone Water, p. 76; October 5, 1998, review of Broken Chords, p. 91; May 15, 2000, review of Paper Trail, p. 118.

School Library Journal, December, 1996, review of Stone Water, pp. 29, 136; December, 1998, Renee Steinberg, review of Broken Chords, p. 124; August, 2000, Todd Morning, review of Paper Trail, p. 182.

Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 1997, Janet R. Mura, review of Stone Water, pp. 28-29.

ONLINE

Teenreads.com,http://www.teenreads.com/ (August 4, 2000), Tammy Currier, interview with Gilbert.*

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