Reviews > Published on June 7th, 2017

Bookshots: "And We're Off" by Dana Schwartz

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


And We’re Off

Who wrote it?

Dana Schwartz. She is a humorist and columnist for the Observer. She also curbs my disenchantment about writing professionally with the hilarious Twitter account @GuyInYourMFA and writes my favorite Bachelor/Bachelorette pieces/recaps. MSNBC asks her opinion on culture and politics. And We’re Off is her first novel.      

Plot in a box:

Going after your dreams and dealing with your mother can feel more psychologically grueling than any Hunger Game/Battle Royale.

Nora gets accepted into the Donegal Colony for Young Artists. Though Nora draws erotic slash art for money (Hey Razorbill, please put some drawings in the paperback edition), unfortunately it is not enough to pay for the trip and school. Instead of taking out her Bat Mitzvah savings, Nora’s grandpa and fellow artist agrees to pay for the trip as long as she creates an original piece of work at each stop. Sign me up! The only problem is Nora’s mother decides to tag along for the trip, (Growing up with a Jewish mother, this is more scary to me than all of Lovecraft’s stories combined.)

Invent a new title for this book:

Was Picasso’s Mom A Pain in the Ass Too?

Read this if you like(d):

The Gilmore Girls, Maureen Johnson, Nicola Yoon, and Jennifer Weiner

Meet the book’s lead(s):

Nora Holmes—talented seventeen-year old artist

Callum Cassidy—the cute and cool Irish boy

Robert Parker—the cool Grandpa who is an artist too

Alice—the annoying but well-meaning mother

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

I just finished a Riverdale binge so I’m going to use their actors: 

Nora Holmes—Lili Reinhardt (Betty Cooper)

Callum Cassidy—Cole Srouse (Jughead)

Robert Parker—Luke Perry (We give him old people make up Gen Xers, relax, you are not that old)

Alice— Marisol Nichols (Hermione Lodge)

Setting: Would you want to live there?

Chicago, Paris, Brussels, Donegal, Florence, Italy, and London. I would live in every place except Chicago (sorry, Jason Diamond).

What was your favorite sentence?

Is it possible for STIs to go airborne?

The Verdict:

My fiancé and I have the most annoying and crazy Jewish mothers that ever existed. The idea of having to travel with our mothers to Europe would be our worst nightmare. It actually triggers me, and that is why I loved this book so much. Schwartz uses humor and great character development to make this story work. It shows that high stakes in YA don't always have to be dystopian or involve dying, that going after your dreams and dealing with your mother can feel more psychologically grueling than any Hunger Game/Battle Royale. The novel hits a lot the genre expectations of great YA novels, but also adds something poignant to say about family relationships. It has one of the most satisfying endings I’ve read this year.

Get And We're Off at Bookshop or Amazon

About the author

Christoph Paul is the Managing Editor and owner of CLASH Books, who have published over 60 books and have been covered by NPR, Poets & Writers, Rolling Stone, Believer Magazine, Oprah Magazine, The Observer, Fangoria, and Publisher's Weekly. The press has had books translated into Spanish, French, and Italian. He has been editing books in almost every genre for over a decade. As an author, he won a humor award and had viral cult success under a pen name. He is the lead singer and bass player of the rock band The Dionysus Effect, who have received positive reviews in Loudwire, EARMILK, and Red Rock Magazine. He sometimes writes songs about the books he publishes because even artists are inspired by their day jobs. Follow him on Twitter @christophpaul_ @clashbooks @dionysuseffect.

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