Moriarty, Laura 1970-

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Moriarty, Laura 1970-

PERSONAL:

Born 1970; children: one daughter. Education: University of Kansas, B.S.W., M.A.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Lawrence, KS. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer.

AWARDS, HONORS:

George Bennett fellowship, Phillips Exeter Academy, 2000-01.

WRITINGS:

The Center of Everything (novel), Hyperion (New York, NY), 2003.

The Rest of Her Life (novel), Hyperion (New York, NY), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Laura Moriarty attended the University of Kansas, first earning a degree in social work, then another in writing. In an interview posted on the University of Kansas Web site, she related: "I started writing after I got my degree in social work, when I was a fifth year exchange student at the University of Malta. It's a long story. Maybe it'll be Novel #3. But basically, I tried to push myself to be other things for a long time. I tried to be a doctor, and then a social worker. I wanted to do something that could help people, and writing seemed self indulgent. It probably is, but it's what I love to do and what I'm good at, and after a while, I got tired of suppressing the desire to write." Moriarty also told the interviewer about her love of Kansas, and particularly Lawrence, where she lives and where she attended university. She also conveyed how she values that city over the other places she has lived, including eight states and two other countries.

Moriarty's debut novel, The Center of Everything, is narrated by Evelyn Bucknow, beginning from the time she is ten years old. Evelyn is a bright, down-to-earth child who is more grounded than her mother, Tina, who is separated from her Evelyn's father. Tina gives birth to a severely retarded baby boy as a consequence of her affair with her married boss. Evelyn faces her own problems alone, wearing clothes that do not fit and that definitely do not match the designer clothes of the other girls. She has a secret crush on Travis, a bad boy who lives in their apartment complex but who is attracted to Evelyn's beautiful best friend, Deena. The one person who is always there for her is her devoted and religious grandmother Eileen. As Evelyn grows older, she faces hard choices, particularly when her membership in a evangelical church clashes with her love of science. The novel is set in the fictitious small town of Kerrville, Kansas, during the years of the administration of President Ronald Reagan. Moriarty uses pop culture references that give the story an accurate feel for the time. Norah Piehl reviewed the book for Bookreporter.com, describing it as "a coming-of-age novel, family drama, and political commentary rolled into one."

Alexandra Tursi interviewed Moriarty for Identity Theory, following the publication of Moriarty's The Rest of Her Life. Tursi wrote: "Laura Moriarty's writing has been said to "resonate like an emotional tuning fork." A novelist intrigued by the varied and complex relationships between mothers and daughters, she crafts characters that are both authentic and accessible, caught in difficult situations that force them to come to terms with themselves."

This novel is narrated by Leigh Churchill, a middle-school teacher married to a college professor; she is the mother of Justin and Kara. Leigh and her sister, Pam, daughters of a divorced and unstable mother, had a hard childhood. Leigh's children, in contrast, enjoy parental love and stability. Kara has blossomed in this environment, while Justin fits in less well. Because of their upbringing, Kara and Leigh are not always able to relate to each other. As the story begins, eighteen-year-old Kara runs down and kills another teen, a former student of Leigh's. Moriarty, through Leigh, then reveals how this tragedy impacts every aspect of the characters' lives. Library Journal reviewer Beth E. Andersen commented that Moriarty is "a blunt, honest scout." A Kirkus Reviews contributor concluded that the characters in this novel "grab readers the minute they enter the story, and recollections of their vivid personalities will linger long after the last page." Lourdes Orive, a review for Teen Reads, described The Rest of Her Life as "a compelling novel that takes a steady, unforgettable look at how an instant can change a family's life irrevocably. Readers looking for a well-crafted family drama with a page-turning plot will not be disappointed with Moriarty's latest work."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Book, July 1, 2003, Beth Kephart, review of The Center of Everything, p. 77.

Booklist, July 1, 2003, Kristine Huntley, review of The Center of Everything, p. 1866; July 1, 2007, Kristine Huntley, review of The Rest of Her Life, p. 30.

Christian Science Monitor, July 17, 2003, review of The Center of Everything, p. 15; November 25, 2003, review of The Center of Everything, p. 3.

Entertainment Weekly, June 20, 2003, Allyssa Lee, review of The Center of Everything, p. 79; August 10, 2007, Tina Jordan, review of The Rest of Her Life, p. 73.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2007, review of The Rest of Her Life.

Library Journal, July 1, 2007, Beth E. Andersen, review of The Rest of Her Life, p. 83.

Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2003, review of The Center of Everything, p. 14.

Publishers Weekly, June 11, 2007, review of The Rest of Her Life, p. 37; June 18, 2007, "PW Talks with Laura Moriarty; Writing in the Blind Spot: The Rest of Her Life Explores What Happens When a Mother's Childhood Intrudes on Her Daughter's," p. 34.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), July 13, 2003, review of The Center of Everything, p. 2.

Women's Review of Books, September 1, 2007, "Read Like a Girl," interview with Laura Moriarty, p. 2.

ONLINE

Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (February 11, 2008), Norah Piehl, review of The Center of Everything.

Identity Theory,http://www.identitytheory.com/ (February 4, 2008), Alexandra Tursi, "Staring Down the Blind Spots: An Interview with Laura Moriarty."

Laura Moriarty Home Page,http://www.lauramoriarty.net (February 11, 2008).

Teen Reads,http://teenreads.com/ (February 11, 2008), Lourdes Orive, review of The Rest of Her Life.

University of Kansas Web site,http://www.ku.edu/ (February 11, 2008), interview with Laura Moriarty.