Sutherland, Tui T. 1978- (Tamara Summers, Heather Williams)
Sutherland, Tui T. 1978- (Tamara Summers, Heather Williams)
Born July 31, 1978, in Caracas, Venezuela; married. Education: Williams College, 1998.
Stories of the Stars, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2000.
Monster Party, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2000.
Glittering Galaxies: A Trip through the Stars!, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2001.
Meet Mo and Ella ("First Friends" series), illustrated by Rose Mary Berlin, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2001.
Fun with Mo and Ella ("First Friends" series), illustrated by Rose Mary Berlin, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2002.
Who Was Harry Houdini?, illustrated by John O'Brien, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 2002.
This Must Be Love, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
So This Is How It Ends (Book 1 of the "Avatars" trilogy), Eos (New York, NY), 2006.
Shadow Falling (Book 2 of the "Avatars" trilogy), Eos (New York, NY), 2007.
AS TAMARA SUMMERS
He's with Me, Point/Scholastic (New York, NY), 2007.
Save the Date, Harper Teen (New York, NY), 2008.
AS HEATHER WILLIAMS
Nellie Oleson Meets Laura Ingalls, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.
Tui T. Sutherland had a diverse upbringing, growing up in such varied places as Venezuela, Paraguay, Florida, and the Dominican Republic before settling down in New Jersey for her teen years; perhaps this ultimately helped contribute to the author's widely mixed writing interests. Early in her career, she began writing for very small children with the books Meet Mo and Ella and Fun with Mo and Ella, two books in the "First Friends" series for beginning readers. She followed those up with Who Was Harry Houdini?—a biography for children older than her original audience but still young—and then finally settled into her preferred target age group of young adults, writing the novel This Must Be Love.
This Must Be Love is a modern-day Midsummer Night's Dream, set in a high school in present times and told entirely in communication rather than standard narrative fashion, through media including diary entries, notes passed, e-mails and more. The heroines of the novel, Hermia and Helena, are best friends looking forward to performing in the school production of Romeo and Juliet. Alas, their hopes are crushed when the drama teacher decides to put on an all-male performance, much to the shock of the football team recruited to participate. At the same time, the girls are in love with boys (Alex and Dmitri) who have no idea of their feelings, causing a comedy of errors to ensue. Between a road trip and a series of miscommunications, there are unexpected occurrences in this teen romance novel, making it "fun" according to Angela J. Reynolds in a review for School Library Journal. Reynolds noted that the "interesting characters," coupled with the "variety of writing styles," will appeal to a wide range of readers. While a Kirkus Reviews critic found the story's format "wearisome and confusing," the same reviewer also called the "gushing girl-speak … spot-on authentic," and a Publishers Weekly contributor agreed, observing that numerous "fun touches" make the story "entertaining."
In addition to children's books and young adult romance, Sutherland has completed two books of a proposed trilogy and is hard at work on the third. In 2006, she released So This Is How It Ends, the first book of the "Avatars" series of teen fantasy novels. Described by a reviewer on the Bladewriter Blog as reminiscent of a "super-hero comic book," So This Is How It Ends follows several teenagers, each with extraordinary abilities, as they are inexplicably drawn to a specific location. The book's title refers to civilization itself, as an apocalypse occurs in the course of the book, killing the majority of humanity and propelling our heroes to a time in the late twenty-first century. While the future world Sutherland creates is "frightening," according to Booklist critic Francisca Goldsmith, the reviewer also noted "genuine humor" used to temper this setting. While a contributor to Kirkus Reviews felt that Sutherland fills in extraneous information merely to increase the length of the novel and noted the "designed feel reminiscent of … video games," many critics, including June H. Keuhn of School Library Journal, observed the book's "well-written characters" and "cliff-hanger ending." The latter will, according to Kliatt reviewer Donna Scanlon, leave fans "clamoring for more."
Luckily for those clamoring fans, So This Is How It Ends was followed up a year later with Shadow Falling, the second book in the "Avatars" series. The novel picks up where its predecessor left off, and each of the teenagers is set as an Avatar—a human representative—for one of a number of bickering gods. The idea is that the Avatars will battle each other to prove supremacy for the god being represented by the winner. The Avatars are not particularly happy with this idea, which helps move along a story that successfully "bridges the action" between the first and third books, according to Scanlon of Kliatt, who called this "a strong middle book." While a Kirkus Reviews contributor did not observe much story advancement in this second novel, the critic did conceded that "gamers with a literary bent may be drawn in."
In addition to her fantasy writing, Sutherland took advantage of pseudonyms in 2007 and 2008 to revisit the teen romance genre. Under the name Heather Williams, the author released the young adult novel Nellie Oleson Meets Laura Ingalls. She additionally wrote He's with Me, in 2007, and Save the Date in 2008, both under the name Tamara Williams.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 2007, Francisca Goldsmith, review of So This Is How It Ends, p. 84.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January, 2005, Karen Coats, review of This Must Be Love, p. 229; February, 2007, April Spisak, review of So This Is How It Ends, p. 269.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2004, review of This Must Be Love, p. 921; September 15, 2006, review of So This Is How It Ends, p. 968; September 1, 2007, review of Shadow Falling.
Kliatt, September, 2006, Donna Scanlon, review of So This Is How It Ends, p. 18; September, 2007, Donna Scanlon, review of Shadow Falling, p. 19.
Publishers Weekly, October 11, 2004, review of This Must Be Love, p. 80; December 11, 2006, review of So This Is How It Ends, p. 71.
School Library Journal, September, 2004, Angela J. Reynolds, review of This Must Be Love, p. 218; November, 2006, June H. Keuhn, review of So This Is How It Ends, p. 155.
Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 2006, Laura Panter, review of So This Is How It Ends, p. 452.
Bladewriter Blog,http://www.chock.wordpress.com/ (March 27, 2007), review of So This Is How It Ends.
Tui T. Sutherland Home Page,http://www.tuibooks.com (January 5, 2008).