Coretta Scott King Award Winner
National Book Award Finalist
Travels from: Charlottesville, VA

“The choice of verse to tell this absorbing story is a strong one; readers are drawn along by the intense and vivid imagery, and the depictions of clinical depression, guilt, and grief are visceral…” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Amber McBride is currently an assistant professor at the University of Virginia. She received her BA in English from James Madison University in 2010 and acquired her MFA in Poetry from Emerson College in 2012. She has also taught English Composition, English Literature and Poetry Composition at James Madison University, Strayer University and Northern Virginia Community College.

Amber is the former media assistant at The Furious Flower Poetry Center where she worked putting together programs and readings to honor African American poets and writers including Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Nikki Giovanni.

Her debut YA novel-in-verse, Me (Moth), is about a teen girl who is grieving the deaths of her family, and a teen boy who crosses her path. It’s an exquisite and uplifting novel about identity, first love, and the ways that our memories and our roots steer us through the universe.

Amber is also a poet. Her poetry has appeared in various literary magazines including Ploughshares, Provincetown Arts, DecomP, The Cincinnati Review, The Rumpus and others. Originally from everywhere, Amber was born in Heidelberg, Germany and spent the first 18 years of her life living in several different states. She moved to the Charlottesville area in 2018 and loves calling Albemarle County home.

Her novel-in-verse, We Are All So Good At Smiling, was released in early 2023. Amber’s newest adult poetry collection, Thick With Trouble was released in early 2024.

Amber's Featured Titles

Thick with Trouble

Penguin Books |

From National Book Award finalist Amber McBride, a mystical, transcendent poetry collection about Black womanhood in the American South

In Thick with Trouble, award-winning poet Amber McBride interrogates if being “trouble”—difficult, unruly, fearsome, defiant—is ultimately a weakness or an incomparable source of strength. Steeped in the Hoodoo spiritual tradition and organized via reimagined tarot cards, this collection becomes a chorus of unapologetic women who laugh, cry, mesmerize, and bring outsiders to their knees. Summoning the supernatural to examine death, rebirth, and life outside the male gaze, Amber McBride has crafted a haunting, spellbinding, and strikingly original collection of poems that reckon with the force and complexity of Black womanhood.

Gone Wolf

Feiwel & Friends |
Middle Grade

In the future, a Black girl known only as Inmate Eleven is kept confined — to be used as a biological match for the president’s son, should he fall ill. She is called a Blue — the color of sadness. She lives in a small-small room with her dog, who is going wolf more often – he’s pacing and imagining he’s free. Inmate Eleven wants to go wolf too―she wants to know why she feels so Blue and what is beyond her small-small room.

In the present, Imogen lives outside of Washington DC. The pandemic has distanced her from everyone but her mother and her therapist. Imogen has intense phobias and nightmares of confinement. Her two older brothers used to help her, but now she’s on her own, until a college student helps her see the difference between being Blue and sad, and Black and empowered.

In this symphony of a novel, award-winning author Amber McBride lays bare the fears of being young and Black in America, and empowers readers to remember their voices and stories are important, especially when they feel the need to go wolf.

We Are All So Good at Smiling

Feiwel & Friends |
Young Adult

They Both Die at the End meets The Bell Jar in this haunting, beautiful young adult novel-in-verse about clinical depression and healing from trauma, from National Book Award Finalist Amber McBride.

Whimsy is back in the hospital for treatment of clinical depression. When she meets a boy named Faerry, she recognizes they both have magic in the marrow of their bones. And when Faerry and his family move to the same street, the two start to realize that their lifelines may have twined and untwined many times before.

They are both terrified of the forest at the end of Marsh Creek Lane.

The Forest whispers to Whimsy. The Forest might hold the answers to the part of Faerry he feels is missing. They discover the Forest holds monsters, fairy tales, and pain that they have both been running from for 11 years.

Me (Moth)

Feiwel & Friends |


A debut YA novel-in-verse by Amber McBride, Me (Moth) is about a teen girl who is grieving the deaths of her family, and a teen boy who crosses her path.

Moth has lost her family in an accident. Though she lives with her aunt, she feels alone and uprooted.

Until she meets Sani, a boy who is also searching for his roots. If he knows more about where he comes from, maybe he’ll be able to understand his ongoing depression. And if Moth can help him feel grounded, then perhaps she too will discover the history she carries in her bones.

Moth and Sani take a road trip that has them chasing ghosts and searching for ancestors. The way each moves forward is surprising, powerful, and unforgettable.

Here is an exquisite and uplifting novel about identity, first love, and the ways that our memories and our roots steer us through the universe.


The Art of Protest in Music Lyrics & Poetry

Audience: Middle School, High School, College Students

Music is magic. It transports, changes and often challenges with its soulful sounds and brilliant wordplay. Sometimes music even critiques the world we live in today, calling for change. In this sound-filled and soulful presentation we will listen for the sparks of protest in music from Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Chance the Rapper and many more. We might even dance a little.  


The Novelty of Novels in Verse

Audience: Educators

Some students are reluctant readers. They think a book is too long, too old, or too boring. The rise of the novel in verse is a perfect tool that challenges avid readers and encourages reluctant readers with its sparse language and vivid imagery.  


The Importance of Diversity

Audience: Educators

Reading diversely makes us feel diverse which makes us more empathetic to people from all walks of life. This is why it is important for everyone to be exposed to viewpoints that might not mirror their own.  


Lost & Found: Telling the Honest Story

Audience: Middle School, High School, Adult

McBride tries to highlight the difference between sympathy and empathy in real time through a series of personal true stories and vulnerable anecdotes about her dog, family and childhood.  


Me (Moth) & Hoodoo

Audience: Middle School, High School, Adult

Hoodoo is an African American folk magic system that Amber McBride practices and is highlighted in Me (Moth). In this presentation which includes pictures of herbs and their various uses, we learn more about the beautiful practice of rootwork.


We Are All So Good At Smiling & Mental Health

Audience: Middle School, High School

In this book Whimsy and Faerry are trapped in a Garden filled with fairy tales. Who would be in your haunted garden and what would you use to help you get out?


Hoodoo, Rootwork & Healing

Audience: Middle School, High School, Adult

Hoodoo is an often forgotten aspect of African American history because the practice came with consequences. Those who practiced were often arrested and charged for simply trying to help themselves and their community. Learn about the history of Hoodoo and ancestry.


Epic Playlist: Music & Poetry

Audience: Middle School, High School

Music connects us all, let’s put together and epic playlist of songs that you think describe what it’s like to be a young adult living in America today. Together we can discuss what makes a great song. Rhythm, lyrics and purpose!  We will post the playlist on spotify and you can go back to it!


In The Beginning: Poetry Workshop

Audience: Middle School, High School

In the beginning there were…insert your own creation story here. This workshop is good for middle and high school poets!


The Art of Myth

Audience: Middle School, High School, College Students, Adults

Call me something lovely, mischief changing robes. In this poetry workshop we will practice writing persona poems from a perspective we have never tried before. Time to step outside of your comfort zone.  

Books Are Magic | Me (Moth) | Amber McBride & Mahogany L. Browne

Virginia Humanities | 2022 Va. Festival of the Book—NBF Presents: An Afternoon with the National Book Awards

National Book Foundation | Amber McBride, 2021 National Book Awards Young People’s Lit. Finalist, reads from Me (Moth)

Amber’s Blog

Amber’s Sensitivity Reading Rates

Resources for Educators

NEA Questions for Discussion & Resources for Educators

Honors, Awards & Recognition

2022 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award
Chosen as a Read Across America Book by the NEA
A 2022 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist
Finalist for 2021 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature
Indies Introduce Title, Summer/Fall 2021
Indies Next Pick, July/August 2021
Booklist Top 10 Youth Books of 2021
Book Page Best Young Adult Books of 2021
Goodreads Choice 2021 Poetry Nominee
A BookPage Best Book of 2021
A Best Book of 2021, Shelf Awareness
An NPR Best Book of the Year, 2021
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2021
A Time Magazine Best Children’s Book of 2021
People magazine’s Best Children’s Books of 2021

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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