Emma Rathbone will present selections from her new coming-of-age novel
Thursday, August 12 at 5:30 PM
Jacob Higgins’s teenage rage rarely simmers below the surface for long. He despises his negligent mother and her alcoholic boyfriend, Refrigerator Man, and he’s indifferent to school and his friends—though a little less casual about girls and marijuana. His antics have landed him in a North Virginia detention center, where nihilism, freedom, and redemption all take on unexpected guises.
In a voice filled with confusion, yearning, and sardonic humor, Jacob narrates his improbably sweet romance with Andrea, an inmate with whom he shares rare glances, melodramatic conversation, and waxy cookies at rigidly chaperoned “socials.” But when David, a mysterious, conniving adolescent, handpicks him to assist in a plot to bring about the center’s demise, Jacob has to weigh the frail new optimism of his relationship with Andrea against the allure of destruction, rebellion, and escape. In her pitch-perfect debut, Emma Rathbone adroitly captures the drama, both comic and deadly serious, of growing up.
“Unafraid, unsentimental, and destructively smart, The Patterns of Paper Monsters masterfully turns sadness into ecstatic, shocking laughter.”
—Patrick Somerville, author of The Cradle
“Patterns of Paper Monsters is a dispatch from the teenage wasteland of a juvenile detention center, fervidly delivered by Emma Rathbone’s irreverent, perceptive, and achingly funny young hero, Jacob Higgins. He refuses to succumb to the numbness and absurdity of his incarceration, in turn holding a jagged mirror shard to adolescence, failed relationships, and life in modern America. A voice that is at once heartbreaking and hilarious, and startlingly true.”
—Lydia Peelle, author of Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing
Emma Rathbone was born in Pretoria, South Africa. When she was six, her family moved to Plano, Texas and then later to Fairfax, Virginia. She was a Henry Hoyns Fellow at the University of Virginia, where she received her M.F.A. in 2006. She now lives in Charlottesville and teaches fiction through UVA’s Continuing Education Program and at WriterHouse. The Patterns of Paper Monsters is her first book.