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Varela, Barry

Varela, Barry


Married Fiona Morgan (a professional writer and reporter); children: two daughters. Education: Grinnell College, B.A.


Home and office—Durham, NC.


Author and editor. Former editor for Harper & Row, Random House, and Henry Holt publishers, New York, NY; Early Intervention Training Center for Infants and Toddlers with Visual Impairments, editor; freelance writer.


Palmers Gate, Roaring Brook Press (New Milford, CT), 2006.

Gizmo, Roaring Brook Press (New Milford, CT), 2007.

Coauthor and ghost writer for books, mainly in the field of children's literature.


Before penning his first young-adult novel, Palmers Gate, Barry Varela coauthored a variety of books within the genre of children's literature, sometimes as a ghost writer. Varela's debut novel deals with the difficult issue of sexual abuse, interweaving it within the confines of a unique friendship between a young boy and his next-door neighbor. The novel's lead character is Robbie, a pretty typical ten-year-old boy who lives with his single mom. Things drastically change, however, when a new family moves next door and Robbie begins to notice strange things about his new neighbors. The boy is especially confounded by the family's daughter, Colleen, a classmate of Robbie's. In class, Colleen is unusually quiet and she wears outdated clothes, and she quickly becomes the target of classroom taunting. Knowing that Colleen has family issues, Robbie begins to feel protective of her and they soon develop a secret friendship. When rumors about Colleen's bizarre behavior begin to circulate, Robbie ultimately sacrifices his own future in order to save that of his friend.

Critics have been divided in their assessment of Varela's unique tale that insinuates the difficult issue of sexual abuse. A critic for Kirkus Reviews noted that while the novel's ending is abrupt, Palmers Gate presents "a well-constructed portrait of a confused child." A Publishers Weekly reviewer described the book as a "strange and moving novella," and, in addition to being "gracefully written," it "unfolds with excellent pacing."



Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July-August, 2006, Deborah Stevenson, review of Palmers Gate, p. 520.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2006, review of Palmers Gate, p. 469.

Library Media Connection, November-December, 2006, Barbara J. McKee, review of Palmers Gate, p. 76.

Publishers Weekly, June 26, 2006, review of Palmers Gate, p. 52.

School Library Journal, July, 2006, Carolyn Lehman, review of Palmers Gate, p. 114.


Barry Varela Home Page, (May 1, 2007).

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