Philip Beard is a recovering attorney who still practices law part time in Pittsburgh, where he lives with his wife and three daughters. His first novel, Dear Zoe, was a Book Sense Pick, a Borders Original Voices Selection, and was chosen as one of the ten best first novels of 2005.
Praise for Dear Zoe
“Like The Lovely Bones, [Dear Zoe] is a piercing look at how family recovers from a devastating loss. Everything about this moving, powerful debut rings true.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Beard peels away the layers of his protagonist’s anguish simply and sensitively...and creates real, multidimensional and affecting characters.”—The Washington Post
“The whole novel...rings with truth.”—The Buffalo News
“In his soulful debut novel...Philip Beard does a pitch-perfect impersonation but never sugar-coats the depths of a young girl's despair.”—Pittsburg-Post Gazette
“Dear Zoe is an almost flawless novel of self-discovery and redemption. It is the sort of book that a generation can call 'theirs,' a book that captures the trials of adolescence and the aching numbness of America in the aftermath of 9/11.”—The Press of Atlantic City
A 15-year-old girl struggles to cope with private grief in an age of public catastrophe in this awkwardly conceived but sweet, sure-voiced debut. When her little sister, Zoe, dies after being struck by a car on September 11, 2001, savvy, self-aware Tess DeNunzio works through her grief by writing letters to Zoe. Tess's candid observations about her feelings of guilt (she witnessed the accident) and her mourning process give warmth and clarity to her descriptions of daily life in the aftermath. Not sure how to deal with her bereaved mother and uncommunicative stepfather, Tess moves across Pittsburgh to live with her real dad, an underemployed weight lifter with a good heart. Tess's wise-beyond-her-years sensibility can seem contrived ("That's one of the strangest parts of being a stepchild. You actually get to watch your parents fall in love"), and a morality lesson about the virtues of virginity feels tacked on. Most problematically, however, September 11 feels like a giant peg on which a small (but lovely) coat has been hung. Maybe that's the point, but much more moving are Tess's attempts to cope with the conventional aspects of the loss of her sister. (On sale Mar. 28) Forecast: Dear Zoe was about to be self-published when Viking snatched it up. Proper promotion could net the novel some cross-over YA sales. Six-city author tour. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-When 15-year-old Tess DeNunzio loses her stepsister in a freak hit-and-run accident on September 11, 2001, she chronicles her family's recovery in an epistolary novel that is a tribute to the power of love to heal. First-time novelist Beard has created a unique and authentic voice in Tess, who struggles with her own ambivalent feelings of guilt. As the first-year anniversary of the Twin Towers collapse and Zoe's death approaches, the teen dreads the day. "The world will stop. People will cry-I don't care about all those others, because I even resent them for dying on the day that should have been yours alone." This honesty, tempered with wit, keeps her afloat as she navigates her adolescence during this rocky period in her family's life. As her tenuous relationship with her stepfather worsens and her mother's silence permeates the house, Tess escapes to her n'er-do-well father's home. She meets Jimmy Freeze, with whom she shares sex and a little weed, which it turns out her father and Jimmy sell. But, more importantly, she learns what it is to love and be loved. Dear Zoe is not a dark novel. Young adults will identify with Tess's resilience and find the far-from-perfect adults who populate her world familiar. When Tess returns to her blended family, readers understand her well-intentioned father's pain. It is a moment that will resonate for many as Tess realizes that what is right for her will hurt the imperfect parent she loves.-Pat Bangs, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Praise for Dear Zoe
"Like The Lovely Bones, [Dear Zoe] is a piercing look at how family recovers from a devastating loss. Everything about this moving, powerful debut rings true."-Booklist (starred review)
"Beard peels away the layers of his protagonist's anguish simply and sensitively...and creates real, multidimensional and affecting characters."-The Washington Post
"The whole novel...rings with truth."-The Buffalo News
"In his soulful debut novel...Philip Beard does a pitch-perfect impersonation but never sugar-coats the depths of a young girl's despair."-Pittsburg-Post Gazette
"Dear Zoe is an almost flawless novel of self-discovery and redemption. It is the sort of book that a generation can call 'theirs,' a book that captures the trials of adolescence and the aching numbness of America in the aftermath of 9/11."-The Press of Atlantic City