There’s almost nothing typical about Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s latest book. Subtitled “not exactly a memoir,” it offers as much opportunity for the reader to engage and discover things about themselves as what they discover about the author. That may be typical Amy. You might even say it’s Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal (Dutton, Aug.). Readers may remember her from Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. She says, “The new book might be a memoir with not the most emphasis on me... a Youandme-moir.” She invites readers to do many things, some of them never before attempted: there are 18 different text message prompts throughout the book, by which readers can offer a story, a self-portrait, listen to an audio snippet, meet another reader, or offer an idea to Amy for matching tattoos (some of these accomplished through the text and some through the accompanying website).
The book is arranged by subject areas like a high school class schedule, with Language Arts, Social Studies, and Music. It is more extrospective than introspective (may as well coin that term, too, why not). Where did she get the ideas? “I had a huge brainstorming session with myself for many years,” she says. We mostly hear about bad news, she thinks, but rarely about the good. As Rosenthal put it, “We can see on the weather where it’s raining anywhere in the world—[but] a lot of rain leads to rainbows. Let’s show [the rainbows].” And she wants to get her readers actively involved by, say, sending their own photographs of rainbows: “I knew the technology was in place, [and] we worked with a technology company that helped us code everything,” from the texting feature to the website.
What does she hope people will come away with? “I hope it feels like a big whopping surprise. Even though the book might not be dense or weighty, it contains weighty things.” There is a lot about facets of wonder, thoughts, and curiosity about life and the world: “The word ‘wonder’ keeps coming up—both meanings of the word.” There is a wistfulness in watching her children grow up, an awareness of the passage of time. And she is pleased to take advantage of the time we live in: “The fact that I got to exist in this era of digital offerings, I get to play in this sandbox. I could have missed this time. I am so happy.” But life isn’t all rainbows and sandboxes. She knows that: ““It’s a choice... ” to be positive, to look at the world with wonder.
Rosenthal signs today in the Penguin Random House booth (2433), 2–3 p.m.
This article appeared in the May 12, 2016 edition of PW BEA Show Daily.