Amber Smith

Young Adult and Middle Grade Author
Eliot Rosewater Award Honor Book
Travels from: Charlotte, NC

“Smith creates three-dimensional characters and a warm family dynamic, sensitively portraying learning differences and a beloved grandparent with dementia, and exploring difficult feelings without offering easy answers. Sadie’s struggles with friendship and being taken seriously ring true, as do her sympathetic voice and heartfelt love of dogs.” – Publishers Weekly

Amber Smith is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of young adult and middle grade novels, including The Way I Used to BeThe Last to Let Go, Something Like Gravity, and her forthcoming middle grade debut, Code Name: Serendipity.

Amber’s young adult novels deal with topics and issues near and dear to her heart, such as: mental health, gendered violence and abuse, and LGBTQ+ equality. Her debut young adult novel, The Way I Used to Be (2016) was an Eliot Rosewater Award Honor Book, a Bank Street Best Book of the Year, an American Library Association Amelia Bloomer List selection, and nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award, as well as Connecticut’s Nutmeg Book Award. Her second novel, The Last to Let Go (2018), received starred reviews from Booklist and VOYA, was nominated for Maryland’s Black-Eyed Susan Award, a TAYSHAS List selection, and named a “must-read” book by B&N Teen Blog, Elite Daily, and Bookish. Her third novel, Something Like Gravity (2019) was a Whippoorwill Book Award Winner, received starred reviews from VOYA and BookPage, was selected for Kansas’s NEA Reading Circle List, and named an Amazon Best Book of the Month, a Buzzfeed Best Book of the Year, and “most-anticipated” by BookRiot, NewNowNext, Entertainment Weekly, and The Advocate. She has also contributed to the nonfiction YA anthology Our Stories, Our Voices (2018) which received a starred review from School Library Journal, was a Eureka! Nonfiction Award Honor Book and a Bank Street Best Book of the Year.

On the middle grade side, Amber loves to create worlds that are full of imagination, centering around family, friendship, and the challenges of growing up. Her debut MG novel, Code Name: Serendipity will be released in January of 2022 from Razorbill Books/Penguin Random House.

Amber grew up in Buffalo, New York, and now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her wife and their ever-growing family of rescued dogs and cats. She writes in the hope that her books can help to foster change and spark dialogue.

Prepare an Invitation for:

Code Name: Serendipity

Razorbill |
YA Novel

Fans of Katherine Applegate, Holly Goldberg Sloan, and Lynda Mullaly Hunt will love New York Times bestselling author Amber Smith’s heartwarming middle grade debut about family, friendship, and the magic connection between a girl and her dog.

Eleven-year-old Sadie’s school year is off to an awful start. Her best (and only) friend has moved away, her older brother is a jerk (as always), and her beloved Gramps is having more and more trouble keeping his memories straight. But when she comes across a stray dog, she discovers something wonderful and magical—she and the dog, Dewey, are able to communicate telepathically. Sadie knows that Dewey is destined to be her friend.

Dewey is quickly captured and sent to a shelter. And Sadie’s moms say Dewey is dangerous, a bite risk, and that Sadie, whose mind is always wandering with a larger than life imagination, needs to prove she’s more responsible before she can adopt any pets. But Sadie is running out of time—Dewey lets Sadie know that her days at the shelter are numbered.

The only solution: break Dewey out of doggie jail.

In this reaffirming, magical, and uplifting story of friendship, family, and believing in yourself, New York Times bestselling author Amber Smith assures readers: it’s okay to think big and act with your whole heart.

Something Like Gravity

Margaret K. McElderry Books, |
YA Novel

“As beautiful as it is breathtaking.” —BuzzFeed
“Will give you all the feels.” —Charlotte Magazine

For fans of Love, Simon and Eleanor & Park, a “tender, beautifully told” (Julie Buxbaum, New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things) novel about a transgender boy who falls in love for the first time—and how first love changes us all—from New York Times bestselling author Amber Smith.

Chris and Maia aren’t off to a great start.

A near-fatal car accident first brings them together, and their next encounters don’t fare much better. Chris’s good intentions backfire. Maia’s temper gets the best of her. But they’re neighbors, at least for the summer, and despite their best efforts, they just can’t seem to stay away from each other.

The path forward isn’t easy. Chris has come out as transgender, but he’s still processing a frightening assault he survived the year before. Maia is grieving the loss of her older sister and trying to find her place in the world without her. Falling in love was the last thing on either of their minds.

But would it be so bad if it happened anyway?

The Last To Let Go

Margaret K. McElderry Books |
YA Novel
“Heartwrenching.” —VOYA (starred review)

“Beautiful, captivating prose.” —RT Book Reviews

A twisted tragedy leaves Brooke and her siblings on their own in this provocative novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Way I Used to Be.

How do you let go of something you’ve never had?

Junior year for Brooke Winters is supposed to be about change. She’s transferring schools, starting fresh, and making plans for college so she can finally leave her hometown, her family, and her past behind.

But all of her dreams are shattered one hot summer afternoon when her mother is arrested for killing Brooke’s abusive father. No one really knows what happened that day, if it was premeditated or self-defense, whether it was right or wrong. And now Brooke and her siblings are on their own.

In a year of firsts—the first year without parents, first love, first heartbreak, and her first taste of freedom—Brooke must confront the shadow of her family’s violence and dysfunction, as she struggles to embrace her identity, finds her true place in the world, and learns how to let go.

The Way I Used To Be

Margaret K. McElderry Books |
YA Novel

In the tradition of Speak, this extraordinary debut novel “is a poignant book that realistically looks at the lasting effects of trauma on love, relationships, and life” (School Library Journal, starred review).

Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.

What was once simple, is now complex. What Eden once loved—who she once loved—she now hates. What she thought she knew to be true, is now lies. Nothing makes sense anymore, and she knows she’s supposed to tell someone what happened but she can’t. So she buries it instead. And she buries the way she used to be.

Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, all while learning to embrace the power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.

Growing Up Is Tough

Discussion of themes in Code Name: Serendipity, including the challenges of growing up. There’s a lot to be nervous and excited about, with so many changes happening with friends, family, and school. This discussion will use examples from the book to highlight ways to embrace change while still having fun.

Imagine This!

In this workshop, students will be asked to use their imaginations to write and/or draw a story from the perspective of their favorite animal or even a beloved pet. This is a great exercise that will teach empathy in a fun and constructive way.

Outsiders: What Does It Mean to Belong?

In Something Like Gravity, the two protagonists Chris and Maia are each going through very different experiences, but the thing they have in common is that neither of them feel like they belong. A discussion of themes in Something Like Gravity, including gender identity and expression, the complexity of relationships, and moving through grief and trauma. An exploration of what makes us different from each other, and what makes us the same.

Two Sides to Every Story

There is a quote in Something Like Gravity from writer Anais Nin, which says: “We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” In this workshop, students will be asked to write a scene (picked at random or chosen from multiple options) from the perspective of two people or characters (chosen or created), paying attention to how events and circumstances can be interpreted differently depending on who is experiencing them. A great exercise for thinking about and writing conflict.

Shadows and Secrets: Shining a Light on Dark Topics

We all have things we keep hidden from others, but when does it become dangerous to hold on to our secrets? A discussion of themes in The Last to Let Go, and the importance of learning about and understanding issues and experiences like abuse and violence; why and how abuse happens, its signs and symptoms, and how to make a difference.

Dear Me: Writing a Letter to Your Future Self

In this writing workshop for students, we use the art of the letter (handwritten, to ourselves), where we are free to express and explore what is going on in our personal lives, both the good and the bad, as well as any hopes and goals we have for the future. Afterward, Amber will take the sealed envelopes home with her and mail them back to students in six months so they can see what has changed (or hasn’t). This exercise is a student favorite!

You and #MeToo

A discussion of how the #MeToo movement came about, and why it matters for everyone. Drawing on examples from The Way I Used to Be and other young adult books that address sexual abuse and assault, we will talk about the importance of consent, respect, and speaking out against all forms of sexual violence.

Trauma and Transformation

Trauma is something we all experience in different ways; it can result from any kind of loss, pain, or disappointment. Writing can be a powerful way to process pain and support and understand the healing process, not only for ourselves, but for others. Beginning with a word (either randomly selected or chosen) students will use a version of the “snowflake method: to explore how writing can be used to transform hurt to healing. An equally popular alternative is blackout poetry.

Writing as Activism

What does it mean to be an activist, and how do you know if you are one? A discussion of the diversity of American life, and the many voices that create the fabric of culture. How to use your experiences and voice to advocate through writing (or any means of creativity) for positive change in your world and community.

Resources for Readers and Teachers

Amber’s Manuscript Services

Amber’s Upcoming Events

Honors, Awards & Recognition

New York Times Bestseller
Whippoorwill Book Award Winner, 2020
Kansas NEA Reading Circle List, 2020
Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award Nominee, 2020
Eliot Rosewater Award Honor Book, 2018-19
Connecticut Nutmeg Book Award Nominee, 2018
Texas Library Association TAYSHAS List, 2018, 2017
American Library Association Amelia Bloomer List, 2017
Goodreads Choice Award Nominee – Best YA Fiction, 2016
Bank Street Best Books, 2016

Media Kit

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

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