Kidd’s ‘Invention of Wings’ Soars: An Early Nod from Oprah Helps

The third time’s the charm for Sue Month Kidd: Oprah Winfrey’s third selection for her Book Club 2.0 is The Invention of Wings, Kidd’s third novel after The Secret Life of Bees (2002) and The Mermaid Chair (2009). “It’s going to wow you,” Winfrey promised readers in December, a month before the book’s January 7 pub date. Winfrey disclosed that she selected it as her next pick and called up Kidd even before she had finished reading the novel, while still in manuscript format. With 33,000 copies sold after it landed in bookstores last week (at Nielsen-tracked outlets), this historical novel mixing fact with fiction about the 19th-century Quaker social reformer Sarah Grimké and her slave, Handful, immediately shot to #1 on our Hardcover Fiction list.

Kidd admits that she had never even heard of the Grimké sisters when she resolved to write a third novel. “It began with a vague notion that I wanted to write a story about two sisters,” she recalls. “I didn’t know initially who [they] might be or when and where they lived.” While visiting feminist artist Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party installation at the Brooklyn Museum, Kidd, who lived in Charleston, S.C., at the time (she has since moved to Florida), came upon floor tiles inscribed with the names of Sarah and Angela Grimké, who grew up on a Charleston plantation during the antebellum era and were early advocates of abolitionism and women’s rights. As she learned more about them, Kidd became convinced that they were the sisters she wanted to write about, but found herself much more drawn to Sarah, the older of the two. Kidd resolved to create an enslaved character to interact with Sarah, but during the course of her research, she discovered that when Sarah was 11, she was given a 10-year-old slave named Hetty to be her maid. “I knew immediately this was the other half of the story,” Kidd recalls. And the rest is, as they say, history.—Claire Kirch

What Are Teenagers Thinking?

Doctor’s book a ‘must-read’ for parents, says Deepak Chopra.

Physician and father Daniel Siegel’s Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, hits #11 on our Hardcover Nonfiction list this week after selling over 8,000 copies its first week. Siegel covers a topic germane to many parents—how to understand and better deal with the mind of that ever-present alien in our midst: the common teenager. Siegel can attribute hot sales to two things: relatable subject matter and an impressive pre-release publicity drive. According to Brianna Yamashita, his publicist at Penguin/Tarcher, Siegel took time away from his normally hectic speaking schedule to speak at more than a dozen pre-publication events, where copies of Brainstorm had been pre-sold. This early energy was bolstered by an appearance on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show the day before publication, “which rocketed the book to #5 on Amazon and sparked a lot of interest in his topic—i.e., the new research about how the adolescent brain changes and what it means for society and how we raise adolescents.” Amid some Twitter buzz, Deepak Chopra called the book a “must-read for every parent,” and during launch week, Siegel dropped by the Upper West Side Barnes & Noble in Manhattan, drawing nearly 100 attendees despite it being the day of the infamous Polar Vortex. Since then, Siegel he has been on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show and conducted a 16-city radio satellite tour. The promotional drive goes on, and those wanting to hear more from Siegel can tune in to NPR’s Tell Me More on Jan. 28.—Alex Crowley

A Traumatic Family ‘Memory’ Sparks New YA Novel

Laurie Halse Anderson is no stranger to addressing difficult subjects in YA fiction. In Speak, her much-read 1999 National Book Award finalist, a teen retreats into silence and isolation after she is raped, finding solace only in her art. In Anderson’s new YA novel, The Impossible Knife of Memory, which has a 250,000-copy first printing and debuts this week at #23 on our Children’s Fiction list, 18-year-old Hayley lives with her Iraq veteran father, who resorts to alcohol and drugs to cope with his PTSD. As the author told PW, her own father inspired the story. “In 1945, after he graduated from high school, he was drafted into the Army,” she said. “He arrived shortly after the concentration camp Dachau opened. Like so many soldiers, he came home changed.” Anderson’s father, who became a Methodist minister “after the horrors of the war led him to explore what it means to be a human being,” struggled with alcohol and suicidal thoughts during Anderson’s teen years. Although he eventually “somehow pulled himself together,” she said, “I was angry with my Dad for a long time, and didn’t understand PTSD.” Seeing the experiences of soldiers coming back from Iraq, she explained, “made a light bulb go off in my head.” Knowing firsthand the ripple effect war has on soldiers’ families, Anderson knew she had the idea for her next book. “There are 20 million American veterans alive today,” she said. “Think about how many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren that means. I am super proud of being an American, but we fail our veterans every day.”—Sally Lodge

‘Stone Barrington Is Back’

Standup Guy by Stuart Woods, his 28th novel featuring New York City attorney Stone Barrington, debuts at #6 on our Hardcover Fiction list.

Barrington’s newest client does not seem the type to bring mayhem in his wake. A polite, well-deported gentleman, he comes to Stone seeking legal expertise on an unusual—and potentially lucrative—dilemma. Stone points him in the right direction and sends him on his way, but it’s soon clear Stone hasn’t seen the end of the case. Several people are keenly interested in this gentleman’s activities and how they may relate to a long-ago crime, and some of them will stop at nothing to find the information they desire.

Woods is the author of 54 novels, including the bestselling Stone Barrington and Holly Barker series. He is a native of Georgia and began his writing career in the advertising industry. Chiefs, his debut in 1981, won the Edgar Award. Woods lives in New York City, Florida, and Maine. An avid sailor and pilot, Woods flies his airplane to all of his events. He recently purchased a Cessna Citation M2, which he will be taking out on tour.

This month, Putnam did a billboard in Manhattan’s Times Square announcing “Stone Barrington is back,” with the book jacket.—Peter Cannon

Top 10 Overall

Rank Title Author Imprint This Week Units
1 Divergent Veronica Roth HarperCollins/Tegen 36,825
2 The Invention of Wings Sue Monk Kidd Viking 33,067
3 Allegiant Veronica Roth HarperCollins/Tegen 25,554
4 Insurgent Veronica Roth HarperCollins/Tegen 25,183
5 Hard Luck Jeff Kinney Abrams/Amulet 24,280
6 Big Sky Secrets Linda Lael Miller Harlequin 23,051
7 Super Shred Ian K. Smith St. Martin’s 20,086
8 The Fault in Our Stars John Green Dutton 20,039
9 Marriage Between Friends Debbie Macomber Mira 17,748
10 Things That Matter Charles Krauthammer Crown Forum 17,109