Award-winning author and BYU alumna Ally Condie spoke at the Provo City Library on Monday, Sept. 18 to promote her new book, “The Only Girl in Town.”
The library’s author event for Condie promoted the release of her new contemporary young adult novel. According to the library’s website, “The Only Girl in Town” centers on a high school girl who is left alone after everyone in her hometown mysteriously disappears. The protagonist is left to solve the disappearance of her friends and family as the book takes place over two timelines: one before everyone disappeared, and one after.
The event began with a Q&A moderated by fellow author and friend of Condie, Lindsey Leavitt. Condie and Leavitt discussed multiple questions posed to them by the audience and their publisher.
Condie focused her responses on how she started writing the book and about the inspirations for the book’s setting and core themes.
The novel’s setting is based on Ithaca, New York, a city Condie feels a strong connection to. Ithaca was the birthplace of her father and her first two sons. Ithaca holds a special place in Condie’s heart but also reminds her of some of the lonelier times of her life, a theme that is present in her new book.
“Going back (to Ithaca) was actually super painful,” Condie said. “I ended up finding out that things were changing in my family and that this place that had been so sacred to me was actually a little bittersweet.”
Writing “The Only Girl in Town” was so difficult it almost broke her, Condie said. She tried to work on other writing projects, but she said this was the book she kept coming back to.
“It felt like the only book I wanted to write,” she said.
While a big part of the novel is loneliness, it also focuses on love and friendships, especially for teens. Both Condie and Leavitt spoke about how important it is for young adult readers to read about all kinds of love.
“We don’t celebrate all those different kinds of love enough, especially in YA,” Leavitt said.
Both authors emphasized how important it is to focus on the love that can come from deep and meaningful friendships, rather than just romantic love.
“(Her writing) is very relatable,” audience member Kris Hagler said. “… and I think all of her books are a little bit different, so its not like the same thing over and over.”
Condie ended the evening by signing copies of her books and chatting with audience members.
Condie is a multi-time New York Times bestselling author of middle-grade and young adult novels. The first book in her “Matched” trilogy earned a spot on the Best Books 2010 list for Publisher’s Weekly and on the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Teens’ Top Ten list.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in English teaching from Brigham Young University and taught high school English in Utah and New York.
“The Only Girl in Town” was made available for purchase at the King’s English Book Shop at the Provo City Library before the event and will be available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes & Noble on Sept. 19.