Book Highlight and Author Visit: Greystone Secrets – The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Spencer and I visited Upper Arlington Public Library again last night for an author visit. Margaret Peterson Haddix was on hand to talk about her three most recent books: Children of Jubilee, Summer of Broken Things and Greystone Secrets: The Strangers.

Haddix talked about her writing history…she began as a newspaper journalist and has authored ~40 books over the past twenty years.  She also talked about where she gets the ideas for some of her books: one of her book ideas was developed when she found herself reading a book about genocide while at Disneyland!

Here’s synopsis of the three books that Haddix introduced to the audience:

Summer of Broken Things: Released in April 2018, two girls (Avery and Kayla) travel to Spain with Avery’s family and discover that their families have been keeping a secret from them.  Haddix devised the plot for this YA novel when her family traveled to Spain together (although she insists that no family secrets were divulged on that trip!)

Children of Jubilee (Children of Exile):  Jubilee is the final (3rd) book in the Children of Exile series.  It wraps up the story of Rosi, Edwi, Kiana and Cana that was explored in Children of Exile and Children of Refuge.  While Haddix is prolific in her writing and certainly known for her work in young people’s series writing, the second book of this particular series (Refuge) seems to have been the most popular so far.

The Strangers: Finally, Haddix spoke to the audience about her latest book.  Released less than a month ago (April 2, 2019) this story was spawned from a 1988 news report that Haddix read as part of her journalism research that described a mother of three who gave up driving when she learned of 3 children (same ages and names as her children) who were killed in a car accident.  Obviously a unique but horrifying premise, Haddix came back to that idea years later to build the story of Rochester (12), Emma (10) and Finn (8) who learn that 3 children with their same names and ages have been kidnapped.  She read to the audience from one of the chapters of the The Strangers and it was obvious that the audience was intrigued not only by the mystery in the story but by the different perspectives of each child that Haddix portrays.  She has completed the 1st and 2nd books in the series and is currently working on the 3rd.

Finally, Haddix spent about 20 minutes taking questions:  the audience was curious about everything from:

  1. what books have inspired her – Wrinkle in Time, for one
  2. what her writing process is – set daily productivity goals and attempt to stick to them when you have the plot ‘figured out,’ and
  3. what the name of the book was that she was reading about genocide at Disneyland!  (That was Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder)

Overall, the audience was delighted to meet Haddix and hear about her new works.  It was a diverse crowd – some who only new her latest works and some who had been Haddix fans for quite a long time.  Everyone walked away with a taste who Haddix is and what she hopes to bring to the table for young readers everywhere!  She’s in Columbus, Ohio through the weekend for the Ohioana Book Festival so, if you are in Central Ohio, you’ll still have a chance to see her this week. 


Ohioana Book Festival

To order any of the books I’ve referenced above, please use the following links:

Children of Jubilee (Children of Exile)

Children of Exile

Children of Refuge (Children of Exile)

The Summer of Broken Things

Greystone Secrets 1: The Strangers

Strength in What Remains (Random House Reader’s Circle)

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