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

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, ...

Don't Look Down

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 ...

Want to Be Sent Home in Pieces?

The Chula Vista kidnapping of Eddy Tostado by Arellano cartel guys

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. ...

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 ...

My Life As a Mammal

A young mother brings a small man into the world with a detailed account.

When I informed my best friend almost nine years ago that I was expecting a male child, she said, after a distinct pause, "I can't even imagine you with boys." I couldn't imagine it either, ...

Let The World See Your Pretty Face

A heartbreaking job among the innocent and challenged.

Crushed: A Novel

Crushed by Laura and Tom McNeal. Alfred A. Knopf, 2006; $15.95; 308 pages FROM THE DUST JACKET: The acclaimed authors of Crooked and Zippedbring their signature suspense and razor-sharp dialogue to this compelling new novel ...

When the Loud Bell Rang

22 Reader writers on school

My first day in school was really my second day — Jangchup Phelygal The Radiators That Ticked Heat into the Room — Laura Rhoton McNeal Rear Rank Rudy — Jim Morris Forget-me-nots — Rosa Colwin ...

Let’s Be Friends

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