'Await Your Reply' chosen for this summer's One Read program

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 | 6:09 p.m. CDT; updated 9:19 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 15, 2010

COLUMBIA — A reading panel chose a thriller involving topical issues as Columbia Public Library’s One Read book this summer, library collections manager Doyne McKenzie said.

The book, “Await Your Reply” by Dan Chaon, is about three strangers’ lives that are entangled due to unforeseen events.

The plot line involves identity theft and mental illness, and drops clues to lead up to a surprise ending.

McKenzie said each year the library tries to choose books that lend themselves to discussion. She said this year’s pick is unconventional, which she hopes will spark interest.

“This book is classified as a thriller, which we’ve never had as the One Read,” librarian Sally Abromovich said.

McKenzie said she was intrigued throughout the entire story and surprised by the ending.

Now reading “Await Your Reply” for the third time, McKenzie is able to pick up on the clues that were embedded into the story starting early on.

The two runners-up for this summer’s One Read pick were “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexis and “Stoner” by John Williams.

For nine years, the public has been invited to suggest books for the library’s summer reading program during the months of November and December, Abromovich said. This year, there were 150 suggestions that were narrowed down to 10 made by a reading panel.

The panel reads each of the 10 books and votes on its favorite three. From there, the public votes on which book it feels would be best for the program.

“This book is at the forefront of discussion," Abromovich said. "It is a jumping-off point for our program.”

From Sept. 1 until Oct. 1, the library has scheduled events revolving around “Await Your Reply” and the topics of identity theft and mental illness.

There will be several discussions at the libraries in Columbia, Fulton and Ashland to accommodate varying schedules.

This year, the program's annual music event has been geared toward music used in thriller movies. There will also be an art show, but details are yet to be determined.

A well-known part of the program is the panel of experts that discuss issues mentioned in the book. Abromovich predicts this will be the most popular event again this year.

A special presentation called “Await Your Reply" Goes to College will be put on by professors from Stephens College, Columbia College, William Woods University and MU.

Also, on Sept. 10, author Dan Chaon will be in Columbia for a book talk.

Although McKenzie said the book appeals to upper-level high school students through adults, Abromovich said this book, in particular, would appeal to college students more than any other One Read book has in the past.

“The issues are current and up to date,” Abromovich said. She said identity theft is an issue college students would be interested in versus the historical events that were discussed in last year’s One Read book, “The Air We Breathe” by Andrea Barrett.

“Await Your Reply” has been hailed as one of the best books of the year by  The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor and Entertainment Weekly.

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