The official announcement was made by Tim Scheurer, dean of the college of Arts and Sciences at Shawnee State University, on Aug. 15 at the Portsmouth Public Library.
The novel follows the life of Samantha Hughes, who is a teenager in the summer of 1984. She lives near Paducah, Ky., with her uncle, Emmett, a veteran of the Vietnam Conflict, in which Samantha lost her father.
“The book is good for a number of reasons. It deals with young adult and adult issues. It deals with the past, in terms of the Vietnam War, and issues that we're dealing with now, including the current war,” Scheurer said.
Taryn Scott and Zane Faulkner read selections aloud from the text. The excerpts were chosen by their AP English teacher at South Webster High School, Judy Elsesser-Painter.
“Because the protagonist is an adolescent, we thought it would be appropriate to have a young person read. Taryn plays Samantha and Zane plays her older uncle,” Elsesser-Painter said.
Both Scott and Faulkner participated in last year's One Book/One Community Program.
“We read ‘She Walks These Hills' by Sharyn McCrumb and sat in on a press conference with Sharyn where we discussed the book. It was inspirational,” Scott said.
“She helped us with our own writing by talking about first lines and first sentences,” said Faulkner. “She gave tips on how to become an author.”
SSU and the Portsmouth Public Library sponsored several events leading up to McCrumb's press conference. According to Beverly Cain, director of the Portsmouth Public Library, the library and Cornerstone United Methodist Church hosted an event in which students from Bloom-Vernon schools and Cornerstone members sang hymns mentioned in the book. In another event, a psychic medium spoke to students and library patrons about her abilities and their origins.
Several events have been planned for this year leading up to Mason's appearance on Oct. 23 and Oct. 24, including discussions of Mason's book, “An Atomic Romance;” screenings of the film, “In Country,” based on her book; and a lecture by Dr. Jerry Holt, dean of the School of Liberal Studies at Antioch University, about Mason's appeal as a regionalist.
Mason teaches at the University of Kentucky. She is the author of “In Country,” “An Atomic Romance,” “Feather Crowns” and “Shiloh and Other Stories,” which won the Pen/Hemingway Award. Her memoir, “Clear Springs,” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She will make a presentation at the Portsmouth Public Library and the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts on Oct. 23 and another presentation for local students at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts on Oct. 24.
“The One Book/One Community Program promotes literacy in our community by encouraging everyone to read,” said Jenny Cowling, Adult Services coordinator for the Portsmouth Public Library. “I'm proud to be a part of a public library system that recognizes and responds to the needs of the community.”
Jim Kalb, mayor of the city of Portsmouth, announced that City Council donated $500 to the program. He also proclaimed Aug. 15, 2006, as “One Book/One Community Day.”
Books are available for checkout at the Portsmouth Public Library.