Award-winning author to speak at Book Tavern Sept. 25

A homeless teen living in a rundown motel is at the heart of Susan Beckham Zurenda’s The Girl From the Red Rose Motel .

Based on her own teaching experiences at Spartanburg High School, Spartanburg, S.C. Zurenda weaves a story around two high school students from vastly different backgrounds who fall in love, and with the support of their sympathetic English teacher, attempt to navigate complications readers might never imagine, according to a news release.

Zurenda will discuss her book at 6 p.m., Monday, Sept. 25 at the Book Tavern, 978 Broad St.

“Set in a fictitious Southern town in 2012, the novel is told from the points of view of protagonist Hazel Smalls, a bright but disadvantaged junior living with her family in a rundown motel; Sterling Lovell, a brilliant and advantaged high school senior; and Angela Wilmore, a stern but compassionate English teacher confronting the multifaceted challenges high school teachers face in and out of the classroom each day,” the news release said. “When he crosses the line with Ms. Wilmore by taking over her lesson, Sterling is punished with a day of in-school suspension. There, he meets Hazel, and an unlikely connection sparks.”

Zurenda’s debut Southern novel, Bells for Eli (Mercer University Press, March 2020) received several awards including Gold Medal winner in the 2021 IPPY Awards for Best First Book—Fiction, 2020 Foreword Indie Best Book Awards, Winter 2020 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, American Book Fest’s Best Books of 2020 and Shelf Unbound 2020 Notable Indie.

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