Cohn, Rachel 1968–
Cohn, Rachel 1968–
Born December 14, 1968, in Silver Spring, MD. Education: Graduated from Barnard College.
American Library Association (ALA) Best Book for Young Adults selection, and New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age selection, both 2003, and International Reading Association (IRA) Young Adults' Choice, 2004, all for Gingerbread; ALA Teens' Top Ten Books nominee, 2003, and IRA Children's Choice, 2004, both for The Steps; New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age selection, 2005, for Pop Princess.
Gingerbread, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.
The Steps, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.
Pop Princess, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.
Shrimp (sequel to Gingerbread ), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2005.
Two Steps Forward, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.
(With David Levithan) Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, Knopf (New York, NY), 2006.
The Steps, Pop Princess, Gingerbread, and Shrimp were adapted as audiobooks.
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Rachel Cohn is the author of the highly regarded young-adult novel Gingerbread and its sequel, Shrimp, among other works. Cohn, who grew up near Washington, DC, knew that she wanted to become an author at an early age. As she stated on her home page, "from the time I learned how to read and write I was always trying to create stories. I grew up surrounded by books and by family who were educators—the desire and encouragement to write came readily in my household." After graduating from Barnard College, Cohn held a number of jobs before turning to writing fiction, publishing her debut work in 2002.
Gingerbread concerns Cyd Charisse, a rebellious sixteen year old who is living in San Francisco with her mother and stepfather after being kicked out of boarding school. Cyd quickly wears out her welcome at home, however; after she breaks curfew with her boyfriend, Shrimp, she is sent across the country to New York City to live with her estranged biological father, "Frank real-dad." Though Cyd's relationship with Frank and his two other children is strained, over time she develops a close bond with her halfbrother and begins to accept responsibility for her actions. Through her experiences, "Cyd's appreciation of her family back home grows, as does her confidence that she is lovable and valuable," observed a critic in Kirkus Reviews. According to Booklist contributor Gillian Engberg, "teens will recognize themselves in Cyd's complex, believable mix of the arch and the vulnerable, the self-aware and the self-destructive," and Kliatt reviewer Paula Rohrlick called Gingerbread "an engaging tale about a girl coming to terms with her family and her relationships."
Cyd Charisse makes a return engagement in the 2005 novel Shrimp. Now calling herself "CC," the feisty teen returns to San Francisco. When CC reunites with surfer-boyfriend Shrimp, he tries to convince her to move overseas with him. CC "is a complete character, likeable as much for her daring outfits and attitude as for her good heart and energy," a Publishers Weekly reviewer stated, while Rohrlick predicted that "the humor, the emotionally painful moments, and Cyd's original voice will pull readers in."
Cohn examines another blended family in the humorous 2003 work The Steps. Twelve-year-old Annabel lives with her mother and her boyfriend in Manhattan, while Annabel's father, Jack, has settled in Australia with his new family. During a Christmas holiday, Annabel travels to Sydney for a visit, although she is initially hostile toward her step-siblings, Angus and Lucy, for "stealing" her father. "That Annabel and Lucy will eventually become close friends … and that Annabel will become reconciled to the Steps is never in doubt," Martha V. Parravano wrote in Horn Book, while School Library Journal contributor Maria B. Salvadore remarked that Cohn's narrative reflects the author's "insight into families and individuals." Booklist reviewer Ilene Cooper praised the novel, stating, "readers will identify with the mixed-up emotions that mixed families engender."
A high school student is propelled to stardom in another of Cohn's books for teens, the engagingly titled Pop Princess. While working at the local Dairy Queen, Wonder Blake is discovered by a talent agent, the same man who helped Wonder's sister land a recording contract before the older teen was killed in a tragic accident. Although at first excited about her glamorous new career, after releasing a hit single Wonder "discovers that the life of a pop star is not a bed of roses," observed School Library Journal reviewer Miranda Doyle. "The most alluring scenes here are visions of the pop princess world—all packaging and no content," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor, and Kliatt reviewer Claire Rosser described the work as "thoughtful and intelligent."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, April 15, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of Gingerbread, p. 1394; January 1, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of The Steps, pp. 887-888; July, 2003, Lolly Gepson, review of The Steps (audiobook), p. 1911; January 1, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Pop Princess, pp. 843-844.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 2002, review of Gingerbread, p. 274.
Girls' Life, April-May, 2004, review of Pop Princess, p. 40.
Horn Book, May-June, 2003, Martha V. Parravano, review of The Steps, pp. 341-342.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2002, review of Gingerbread, p. 101; February 1, 2003, review of The Steps, p. 227; February 1, 2004, review of Pop Princess, p. 130.
Kliatt, March, 2002, Paula Rohrlick, review of Gingerbread, pp. 7-8; July, 2003, Sally M. Tibbetts, review of The Steps (audiobook), p. 64; March, 2004, Claire Rosser, review of Pop Princess, pp. 8-9; November, 2004, Carol Reich, review of Pop Princess (audiobook), p. 49.
Publishers Weekly, June 24, 2002, "Flying Starts," pp. 27-30; March 10, 2003, review of The Steps, p. 32; May 12, 2003, Sally Lodge, "Tales from the Tween Tour," pp. 27-28; January 5, 2004, review of Pop Princess, p. 63; April 12, 2004, review of Pop Princess (audiobook), p 25; January 24, 2005, review of Shrimp, p. 245.
School Library Journal, February, 2002, Gail Richmond, review of Gingerbread, p. 129; February, 2003, Maria B. Salvadore, review of The Steps, p. 140; July, 2003, Jane P. Fenn, review of The Steps (audiobook), p. 70; March, 2004, Miranda Doyle, review of Pop Princess, p. 204.
Rachel Cohn Home Page, http://www.rachelcohn.com/ (June 1, 2005).