Early praises for Southern Gothic
A budding art historian becomes embroiled in a mystery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Alexander’s debut YA novel. Teenager Celine Caldwell’s life is going pretty well, now that she’s recovered from her parents’ divorce. A student at a swanky prep school, she has fabulous friends, a budding romance with the handsomest guy in school, and a fascinating internship at the Met, where her mother, Julia, is curator of modern art. The only flaw in Celine’s otherwise perfect life is her strained relationship with Julia, for whom “motherhood was never a professional goal.” All that changes one afternoon when a man menaces Celine, warning her that her mother must do what he wants or he’s going to the cops. Click here for full review
Like an uptown Nancy Drew, Celine traces the history of the paintings, which she’s collectively titled SOUTHERN GOTHIC, and unravels a complex tale involving blackmail, land theft, and the Ku Klux Klan. Even though Celine lives in the rarefied New York City art world, she’s a relatable character, not entirely sure of herself but figuring it out as she goes. Her voice is conversational and snappy, making for a quick, sparkling read, and the details about art history throughout add an extra dimension of interest.
Reading this book gave me a renewed interest in the art world and all of the creativity, beauty, and mystery that comes with it. I think teens will be inspired by this young heroine of the art world. Click here for full review
Christina Lewis, KidsBookshelf.Com
For those of us who grew up reading Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden as the hallmark of the youth mystery genre, it is time to make room on our book shelves for SOUTHERN GOTHIC and in our heart for a dynamic, young, art loving, crime solving sleuth Celine Caldwell! Southern Gothic showcases Celine Caldwell’s intuitive private investigator’s prowess and uncanny ability to solve the most difficult whodunit will keep even the most seasoned mystery reader on the edge of their seat!
Carter B. Cue, Librarian Stanford L. Warren Branch Library (Durham County Library), Durham, NC
SOUTHERN GOTHIC introduces the intrepid Celine Caldwell…a clever and impulsive manifestation of a 21st century teenage detective – a stellar representative of a generation of female empowerment. Unique in her bi-racial heritage and somewhat privileged life-style. Yet, typical in her complex relationship with her famous mother, she is bold and her first impulse is to take action. Luckily, she has a team of culturally diverse female and male feminist friends who are connected by their all-important sense of loyalty to each other and to Celine.
Ever passionate about art, Celine exposes links between art and American history to save her mother. I am eager to learn what is next for this audacious young woman.
Molly Murphy MacGregor, Executive Director and Co-founder National Women’s History Project
SOUTHERN GOTHIC taps into new, decisively 21st century, terrain and takes into account much under explored demographic in contemporary young adult fiction—upper class African-Americans. Celine Caldwell undoes the uptown girl mythos. A force to consider as she unravels historical entanglements at the foundation of American power and privilege.
Romi Crawford, Associate Professor of Visual and Critical Studies and Africana Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
A smart and engaging whodunit for the YA masses. SOUTHERN GOTHIC ushers its readers beyond the velvet rope and into the inner workings of the art world. With city sleuth Celine Caldwell as your guide. The art museum has never been more fun and intriguing. Coupled with the backdrop of New York with splashes of the glitz and glam of the NYC elite and you have a book that beckons you to keep turning the page. I look forward to seeing what Alexander comes up with next.
Washington, Children Book Manager, 57th Street Books, Chicago