Laura McNeal

Laura Rhoton McNeal holds an MA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and is the author, with her husband Tom, of four young adult novels published by Knopf: Crooked (winner of the California Book Award in Juvenile Literature), Zipped (winner of the Pen Center USA Literary Award in Children’s Literature), Crushed and The Decoding of Lana Morris. Laura’s solo debut novel, Dark Water, was a finalist for the National Book Award and the winner of the San Diego Book Award in young people’s literature in 2010.

McNeal's notable Reader stories from the archives:

Diary of an Orange Grove

I Know That One Day, Not Very Far Off in a Corner of This World, Someone Is Going to Say, We Need You (war stories of the baby market)

Their Babies Smell Like Freshly Opened Hickory Nuts (squirrels' lives)

Fairy Godmother's Art (sewing and class-consciousness - about the author's mother)

Vampires on My Front Porch (the care and feeding of pale wigglers)

Articles by Laura McNeal

Fallbrook – 56 miles and an eternity from San Diego

Oranges, avocados, crime, schools, attempt to change the town center

When I say Fallbrook, nothing comes to mind “They are going to fix the streets? For whom? Every other shop is vacant and has been for the last few years. There’s no draw for tourists. ...

Laura McNeal and the Reader

Fletcher shooting, Waldorf School, Judy Huscher, childbirth, Arellano kidnapping, diary of an orange grove

Laura Rhoton McNeal holds an MA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and is the author, with her husband Tom, of four young adult novels published by Knopf: Crooked (winner of the California Book Award ...

Love and Mariachis in Chula Vista

The Music Leaves No Space for Sadness.

This is a love story. It begins in Guadalajara and is rekindled four times a day in room 1204 of Chula Vista High, a setting that is not romantic. The windows of the band room, ...

Reader writers on our country this July 4th

America in the age of sneer

I grew up in a religion that loved everything I would be taught to disdain in graduate school: America, authority, marriage, motherhood, and divine revelation. My father was a history-reading intellectual who treated me like ...

Mr. Benjamin’s Cotillion comes to Coronado

“Keep your negative thoughts to yourself”

When I signed my son up for dance and deportment lessons, I didn’t tell him. For one thing, it was called Mr. Benjamin’s Cotillion, and I couldn’t shake the image of Mr. Benjamin Bunny, Peter ...

The Chula Vista kidnapping of Eddy Tostado by Arellano cartel

Want to be sent home in pieces?

At 3:39 a.m. on January 7, 2007, Columbia Street was almost deserted. Little Italy had been plagued with car burglaries — “It got where you couldn’t drive too many of the streets down there without ...

She Really Was a Fashion Plate

In 1930, the San Diego yellow pages were as yellow as an egg yolk, the white pages listed the occupation of every customer, and the modern Woodmen of America met every Wednesday at Germania Hall. ...

23 Reader writers describe the regime of editor Judith Moore

She hated adverbs

Busy Fingers Are Happy Fingers — Joe Deegan Mother Reader — Barbarella Build Your Writing Muscles — Ollie Let the Tape Recorder Do the Work — Matthew Lickona Faith — Abe Opincar Make Something Better ...

How Truth Can Be Told

"I hate flattery, don't you?" she said to me once.

I was 26 and unemployed when a friend told me about the San Diego Reader and its editor, Judith Moore. I had published a few essays and stories in small literary journals while amassing a ...

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