Saturday, July 12, 2014

One month from today...

My new book, COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS, goes out into the big blue world. I just received the first hardback copy of it in the mail. Even though this is my third book, you don't get over the feeling of seeing your finished book for the first time. It's not unlike holding your real, life newborn for the first time. 

I also like to think of the characters in these books meeting. You know, Sarah Nelson from SURE SIGNS walking to school with Mysti Murphy in COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS. I genuinely think they'd be friends and I'd love to eavesdrop on their conversations. They are very different, but equally spirited, curious and full of heart. 

Another point to mention is that I'm a Hachette author, which means that my books will have a hard time gaining traction on Amazon. (Have you heard of the dispute between Hachette and Amazon?) So I'm keeping fingers crossed that readers will find their way to their favorite indie bookshop or Barnes & Noble online, where you can already pre-order it. 

I loved this recent review from Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly - Review of Courage for Beginners 

Mysti Murphy has to brave at least three major trials at the onset of seventh grade. The first is having an agoraphobic mother, who never leaves the house even to chauffeur her children to classmates’ houses or extracurricular activities. The second is losing her only friend, Anibal, who has “decided to be a hipster this year” to pursue a girl and wants to avoid publicly associating with Mysti. The third obstacle is the most difficult of all, when her father falls from a tree and is hospitalized. Now Mysti must find a way to be strong and responsible while her mother becomes sadder and more withdrawn. Harrington’s (Sure Signs of Crazy) portrait of a resourceful girl weathering transitions and finding creative solutions offers an even balance of humor and painful topics relevant to middle-school readers. The way Mysti views her life, as though she’s a character in a novel (“Here we see a girl washing green beans, extracting melons, and contemplating the true meaning of friendship”), provides a fresh perspective on her thought process, environment, and yearnings.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Goodreads giveaway!

Hi friends,

My publisher, Little, Brown, is hosting a Goodreads giveaway for my forthcoming novel, COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS. 20 copies available! Giveaway runs through June 23, 2014. Enter today!


Like Sarah Nelson in Harrington’s Sure Signs of Crazy (Little, Brown, 2013/VOYA December 2013), Mysti Murphy must navigate a treacherous home situation. Mysti’s mother did not try to drown her, but her mother’s agoraphobia wields despotic control over the family’s life. Then, Mysti’s father tumbles headfirst from a tree and spends the next five months hospitalized, leaving Mysti to take care of her mother and younger sister, Laura. Mysti finds strength and comfort in her ability to make up stories for Laura and come up with daily jokes to connect with her homebound mother. Her seventh-grade school days are as troubling as her family situation, now that her longtime male friend, Anibal Gomez, spent his summer losing weight, bought a beret, and is working on becoming a hipster. He is determined to connect with cheerleader Sandy Showalter, earning his props by humiliating Mysti again and again in front of her peers. In addition to escaping through her stories and jokes, she finds consolation with two occupants of the cafeteria’s “loser island”—brainiac Wayne Kovok, who reminds everyone that his last name is an acronym and spouts “did you know” factoids; and Rama Khan, whose rainbow hijabs and loyalty gradually make her the one-word super-heroine Ramakhan to Mysti.
At age twelve, Mysti may be too wise for her years, but her wickedly good schemes to get even with Anibal and her courageous solutions to family crises will make her a compelling protagonist for sophisticated young readers. -VOYA, starred review (June 1, 2014) 

A wrenching and rewarding read. - Booklist, starred review

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

It's paperback release day for SURE SIGNS OF CRAZY

Hi friends,

Lots of celebrating here today!
The paperback AND audio version of SURE SIGNS OF CRAZY release today!

The paperback version also includes the first two chapters of my forthcoming novel, COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS (August 2014)

"A wrenching and rewarding read." - Booklist, starred review

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Booklist Starred Review for COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS

"A wrenching and rewarding read." - Booklist, starred review

My editor just sent me this news and review! I'm over the moon. It's ironic because, for a book about courage, I had a lot of fears and trepidation writing this story. In many ways, this is a very personal tale as my own mother struggled with agoraphobia. 

Today, I'm grateful for these kind words. Thank you, Booklist! 

★ Courage For Beginners
By Karen Harrington
August/ Ages 8 – 12/ $17.00
ISBN: 978-0-316-21047-8

For Mysti Murphy, being in seventh grade takes enormous courage. Her agoraphobic mother never leaves the house; her father falls from a tree and is hospitalized in a comatose state; and her best and only friend is conducting a social experiment,” ignoring and even making fun of her at school. In this moving follow up to Sure Signs of Crazy (2013), Harrington returns to similar themes and introduces another appealing protagonist, the red-haired, joke-telling Mysti. From her father, Mysti has learned to deflect difficulties with humor, but from her mother, she’s learned fears—for instance, it takes Mysti over a month to think of solving the family’s food problem by walking to a nearby store. Mysti often sees herself as a character in a book, and such thoughts are italicized to create a scene-setting narration: “Here is a girl who may have more hidden genius than she realized.” The heat of the Texas setting and the inevitable bullying and jockeying for social position in her middle school add to the oppressive atmosphere. Scarf-wearing Rama Khan, a neighbor and new friend, provides welcome support, as does her teacher of Texas history. A wrenching and rewarding read. Booklist issue, June 1, 2014.