PODCAST

Episode 379: Best July Books With Meriam Metoui

BY MEGAN LABRISE • July 2, 2024

We’re celebrating July’s best books with YA mystery author Meriam Metoui.

On this week’s Fully Booked, we’re jumping into July with an episode highlighting the best books of the month. First, Kirkus editors Laurie Muchnick, Mahnaz Dar, and Laura Simeon tell us about a few new and noteworthy books you’ll want to read—and share—as summer hits its stride. Then, Meriam Metoui joins me to discuss Portrait of a Shadow (Henry Holt, July 16), a standout YA mystery centered on a teen’s pursuit of her missing sister.

Metoui is the author of the paranormal mystery A Guide to the Dark, an editor at Viking Children’s Books, and a photographer. Here’s a bit from our starred review of her highly intriguing sophomore novel, Portrait of a Shadow:

“Inez moved to Brooklyn five years ago to get her master’s in art history, but she’s been missing since December, and now it’s July. Eighteen-year-old Mae has volunteered to pack up Inez’s apartment, and so their Tunisian immigrant parents give Mae their car for the three-hour drive to New York from their small-town Pennsylvania home….As she searches the apartment, Mae comes upon an 1891 first edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray, Inez’s diary hidden under the floorboards, and, in the back of a closet, an all-white painting like the one Inez has been researching, along with a business card for a Boston art dealer….[A perilous investigation ensues in this] thrilling intrigue that leverages desperation and deception in almost equal measures.”

Metoui reads Portrait of a Shadow’s opening scene, set in 1891, which details the provenance of a mysterious all-white painting. We talk about how the juxtaposition between that chapter and the following, set in the present day, which plunges readers into the Mae’s pursuit of her missing sister. Metoui discloses that Mae’s story was inspired, in part, by an actual painting. Together, we define speculative fiction, consider whether Portrait of a Shadow qualifies as such, and brainstorm a list of authors associated with the term. We discuss Metoui’s work as an editor at Viking Children’s Books, and much more.

And in a sponsored interview, I speak with A. J. Sass, author of Just Shy of Ordinary (Little, Brown, Jan. 30). “When a genderfluid 13-year-old attempts to handle a health crisis by creating a new normal routine for themself, things don’t go according to plan,” Kirkus writes of this “moving and memorable” middle grade novel depicting an eventful time in the life of Wisconsin teen Shai Stern.

 

BEST BOOKS OF JULY 2024:

Long Island Compromise by Taffy Brodesser-Akner (Random House)

A Party for Florine: Florine Stettheimer and Me by Yevgenia Nayberg (Neal Porter/Holiday House)

Our Beautiful Darkness by Ondjaki, illus. by António Jorge Gonçalves, trans. by Lyn Miller-Lachmann (Unruly)

 

THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS:

The Cats’ Museum by Viviana Falleti, illus. by Victoria Fomina

Refuge by Bill VanPatten

Blok 42 by Debrianna Obara

 

 

Fully Booked is produced by Cabel Adkins Audio and Megan Labrise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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