Married; children: two daughters. Education: Brandeis University, graduate; New York University, M.A. (American studies).
Home and office—New York, NY.
Author and producer of television programming. A&E (television network), vice president, 2003-07, senior vice president of nonfiction and alternative programming, 2007—. Executive producer of History Channel television series The Week in History; co-creator of Extreme History with Roger Daltrey.
American Library Association Best of the Best Books for Young Adults designation, for My Mother the Cheerleader.
My Mother the Cheerleader, Laura Geringer Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Also author of screenplay Stephen Crane's The Monster.
Robert Sharenow has spent much of his career producing reality-based television. He has been responsible for such popular shows as Dog the Bounty Hunter and Criss Angel: Mind Freak. Inspired by reading another interesting nonfiction story, Travels with Charley, by John Steinbeck, Sharenow decided to write a novel based on some of the events Steinbeck experienced. In an interview on Harpercollins.com, Sharenow commented that "on some level, I've always wanted to be a writer (although the desire wasn't fully expressed until I got out of college). I've always been awed by books and have been drawn to libraries and bookstores."
Written in the early morning hours and on business trips, My Mother the Cheerleader is set in 1960. As a group of white mothers dubbed "The Cheerleaders" protest school integration in New Orleans, their protests threaten a six-year-old black girl who is trying to attend their local school. Susan Riley, writing in School Library Journal, noted that Sharenow's "powerfully written … coming-of-age story [is] flamed by a historical event." Hazel Rochman praised the author's fiction debut in Booklist, concluding that "readers will be held fast by the history told from the inside as adult Louise remembers the vicious role of ordinary people." A Publishers Weekly reviewer predicted that My Mother the Cheerleader will hold the attention of young adults: "Teens should remain riveted right through the devastating conclusion to Sharenow's promising work of historical fiction." A Kirkus Reviews contributor asserted that the novel "provides an unflinching look at the violence and hatred that permeated" the civil rights era of the mid-twentieth century.
On the HarperCollins Web site, Sharenow asserted that "it was quite flattering hearing that some readers assumed the book was written by a female author because of the authenticity of my narrator's voice. To some degree fiction writing is an act of persuasion. I try to convince readers that my characters and situations are as real as they can possibly be." Giving advice to future authors, Sharenow concluded to Laughran: "Just write whatever you are passionate about. Don't try to write what you think is cool or what you think you're supposed to write. I had no direct connection to the subjects of my book. I'm not a 13-year-old girl. I'm not from New Orleans. And I wasn't even born when the book takes place. Yet, I was inspired to write that story. Follow your passion."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, July 1, 2007, Hazel Rochman, review of My Mother the Cheerleader, p. 61.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2007, review of My Mother the Cheerleader.
Kliatt, May, 2007, Myrna Marler, review of My Mother the Cheerleader, p. 20.
Publishers Weekly, May 28, 2007, review of My Mother the Cheerleader, p. 65.
School Library Journal, July, 2007, Susan Riley, review of My Mother the Cheerleader, p. 110.
A & E Web site,http://www.aetn.com/ (September 25, 2008).
CableU Web site,http://www.cableu.tv/cableu (September 1, 2008), interview with Sharenow.
HarperCollins Web site,http://www.harpercollins.com/ (September 1, 2008), interview with Sharenow.