By Libby Stille, Associate Publicist
The US edition of Catherine Barter’s YA novel Troublemakers launches on April 1! Troublemakers follows 15-year-old Alena as she seeks to find out the truth about what happened to her activist mother. Meanwhile, her brother Danny’s job working for a conservative politician worries his longtime boyfriend Nick, who runs a fair-trade coffee shop.
In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews said of the novel, “Amid a thoroughly contemporary story about terrorism, email leaks, and a divisive political climate, Lena’s coming-of-age is wonderfully individual and heartbreakingly real.”
We asked Catherine to write a note to her US readers ahead of the book’s release.
A note to Troublemakers readers
For a lot of the time that I was working on Troublemakers, I was working in a radical bookshop in London, called Housmans. I still am, in fact. Radical can seem like a scary word these days, but it’s not, really. It comes from the Latin word for root. Radical bookshops are places that seek to inspire social change from the ground up. Our shelves are crammed with books on feminism, socialism, anarchism, anti-racism—all kinds of different social justice movements.
I meet lots of interesting people in Housmans, including some who’ve spent their whole lives dedicated to political activism. It’s inspiring, but it also makes me realize that caring passionately about the world sometimes has a personal cost. And that, no matter how hard you fight, there will always be some things that you can’t change.
That’s partly what Troublemakers is about: the things you can’t change, and the things you can.
The main character, Alena, discovers that her mother was an anti-war activist, a political troublemaker who took part in the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, a famous protest against nuclear weapons that took part in Britain in the 1980s. And, in the midst of a divisive election campaign that’s hitting a little too close to home, Alena is starting to wonder if she might have to be a bit of a troublemaker herself.
But her older brother, who’s also her guardian, is less concerned with the safety of the world than he is with the safety of his own family. The two of them are on the path to a conflict that will change their relationship forever.
This is a story about families, love, loss, politics, and coffee, inspired by the politically turbulent times we live in, and the fact that I’ve always loved stories about siblings.
I hope you enjoy it.