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AUTHOR PHOTOS

BIOS

Short Bio:

 

Jen Ferguson (she/her) is Métis and white, an activist, a feminist, an auntie, and an accomplice armed with a PhD. She believes writing, teaching and beading are political acts. Her debut YA novel, The Summer of Bitter and Sweet (Heartdrum/HarperCollins) won a 2022 Governor General's Literary Award and is a 2023 Stonewall Honor Book. Jen's second YA novel Those Pink Mountain Nights has four starred reviews and is a Junior Library Guild Gold Selection. A Constellation of Minor Bears, about three teens grappling with balancing resentment against enduring friendship—and how to move forward with a life that’s not what they’d imagined, will be published September 24th, 2024.


 

Long Bio:

Jen Ferguson (she/her) is Métis/Michif with historical ties to the Red River and white Canadian settler, an activist, a feminist, an auntie, and an accomplice armed with a PhD in English and Creative Writing. She believes writing, teaching and beading are political acts. Her debut YA novel The Summer of Bitter and Sweet has seven starred reviews, won the 2022 Governor General's Literary Award for Young People's Literature--Text, is a 2023 Stonewall Honor Book, an NPR Best Book of 2022, a School Library Journal Best Young Adult Book of 2022, a Chicago Public Library Best Teen Fiction of 2022, a 2022 Horn Book FanFare Book, a Kirkus 2022 Best Young Adult Book, a 2023 White Pine Award Nominee, a 2022 Young Adult Golden Poppy Finalist and a 2023 Morris Award Finalist. Jen's second YA novel, Those Pink Mountain Nights, is about the hurt of a life stuck in past tense, the hum of connections that cannot be severed, and one week in a small snowy town that changes everything for three teens. It has four starred reviews and is a Junior Library Guild Gold Selection. A Constellation of Minor Bearsabout three teens grappling with balancing resentment against enduring friendship—and how to move forward with a life that’s not what they’d imaginedwill be published September 24th, 2024 with Heartdrum/HarperCollins. Jen's favorite ice cream flavor is mint chocolate chip, she always puts pineapple on pizza, and candy-covered chocolate belongs in trail mix.

Her first book for adults, Border Markers, a collection of interrelated flash fiction stories, is out now with NeWest Press. Her essay "Off Balance" was selected for the Best Canadian Essays 2020 and her novella "Missing" won The Malahat Review’s 2022 Novella Prize.


Jen lives on the traditional and unceded territories of the Meskwaki, the Báxoje and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ nations, and teaches fiction writing, among other things, at Coe College. You can reach her through her contact page.

BIOS
CONTACT

For Canadian publicity inquires, please contact Rebecca Silver, Publicist at HarperCollins Canada.

For US publicity inquires, please contact HarperCollins USA and Jenny Lu, Publicity Manager.

For film and media rights inquires, please contact Katrina Escudero at Sugar23.

For other rights inquiries, please contact Patricia Nelson at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

For all other inquiries, use the Contact page.

SOCIALS
THE SUMMER OF BITTER AND SWEET

Official Announcement

Rosemary Brosnan and Cynthia Leitch Smith at Heartdrum have bough, in a preempt, The Summer of Bitter & Sweet by Jen Ferguson (Métis/white). In this debut YA novel, a demisexual Métis teen is settling in to spend the summer before college working at her close-knit family's ice cream shack with her best friend, ex-boyfriend, and newly back-in-town crush, when a letter from her white biological father, recently out of prison, threatens to destroy everything she cares about. Publication is scheduled for summer 2022; Patricia Nelson at Marsal Lyon Literary did the two-book deal for world English rights.

ALT Text: Rosemary Brosnan and Cynthia Leitch Smith at Heartdrum have bough, in a preempt, The Summer of Bitter & Sweet by Jen Ferguson (Métis/white). In this debut YA novel, a demisexual Métis teen is settling in to spend the summer before college working at her close-knit family's ice cream shack with her best friend, ex-boyfriend, and newly back-in-town crush, when a letter from her white biological father, recently out of prison, threatens to destroy everything she cares about. Publication is scheduled for summer 2022; Patricia Nelson at Marsal Lyon Literary did the two-book deal for world English rights.

Summer Of Bitter Sweet Book Cover

Cover Credits

Illustrated by Reyna Hernandez.

Beading done by Kim Stewart.

Jacket designed by Laura Mock.

 

Description

In this complex and emotionally resonant novel about a Métis girl living on the Canadian prairies, debut author Jen Ferguson serves up a powerful story about rage, secrets, and all the spectrums that make up a person—and the sweetness that can still live alongside the bitterest truth.

Lou has enough confusion in front of her this summer. She’ll be working in her family’s ice-cream shack with her newly ex-boyfriend—whose kisses never made her feel desire, only discomfort—and her former best friend, King, who is back in their Canadian prairie town after disappearing three years ago without a word.

But when she gets a letter from her biological father—a man she hoped would stay behind bars for the rest of his life—Lou immediately knows that she cannot meet him, no matter how much he insists.

While King’s friendship makes Lou feel safer and warmer than she would have thought possible, when her family’s business comes under threat, she soon realizes that she can’t ignore her father forever.

 

The Heartdrum imprint centers a wide range of intertribal voices, visions, and stories while welcoming all young readers, with an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes. In partnership with We Need Diverse Books.

Educator Guide, available here.

Reviews

⭐ Kirkus Reviews

"Debut author Ferguson, who is Métis and White, touches on intergenerational family suffering at the hands of the state, mental health, substance abuse, racism, sexual harassment and assault, and missing and murdered Indigenous women—all with nuance and care."

⭐ Horn Book

"Young adult readers can relate to the struggles Lou is facing as she navigates her transition from high school to college, and also use them as a conversation starter about race, identity, sexuality, dating, and friendship."

⭐ Publisher's Weekly

"In a layered first-person portrayal of a young Indigenous woman navigating the edge of adulthood, Ferguson (who is Métis and white) tackles necessary issues—of identity and sexuality alongside colonialism, generational trauma, racism, physical and sexual assault, and substance reliance—through well-wrought, complicated characterizations and prose that sings with poetry: 'Summer arrives to the prairies slow—and stays for such a short time.'"

⭐ BookPage

"In The Summer of Bitter and Sweet, Jen Ferguson (Border Markers) portrays one weighty subject after another, including Lou’s exploration of her sexuality, her relationship to her Métis heritage, her quest to save her family’s ice cream shack, her father’s threats and her burgeoning relationship with King. Each of these storylines could easily fill a whole novel, but Ferguson impressively blends them all together in a complex depiction of one teenager’s struggle to find her center when every aspect of her life seems on the verge of collapse."

⭐ Booklist

"Ferguson, herself Michif/Métis and white, boldly writes on many challenging topics, including racism, physical violence, sexual identity, sexual assault, and teen alcohol use. Lou is complex, smart, and honest, and a narrator readers will trust, love, and learn from as she works to repair friendships and gain security for her treasured family."

⭐ School Library Journal

"Brutally honest about the sexual and physical violence Native women are subjected to, this story deals with a variety of painful topics and their impact on Louise’s friends and family. Each chapter begins with a beaded image from her mother’s art and a quote from her uncle’s ice cream recipe book. VERDICT The honesty and complexity of this book make it a gripping read; a great first purchase for libraries serving teens."

⭐ School Library Journal (Audio Review)

"In a rare example of serendipitous convergence, debut YA author Ferguson; her protagonist, Lou; and first-time narrator Julie Lumsden are all Canadian Métis. Ferguson begins with an unusual, thoughtful foreword (don’t skip the double afternotes, either!) which reveals potential trauma triggers, allowing readers to skip her novel because 'your health, happiness, safety, and well-being matter more than reading this book.' Lumsden immediately adopts that empathic voice throughout in revealing Lou’s final summer at home, scooping ice cream at her family’s 'shack.'”

Governor General Literary Award for Young People's Literature--Text Peer Assessment Committee

"A timely novel that flows from the author’s Métis and Canadian roots, The Summer of Bitter and Sweet features vibrant prose, real family conflict and a raw and evocative commentary on the struggles of being different in a small-town, prairie setting. Touching on subjects that speak to today’s challenges for 2SLGBTQI+ youth, the complex story delivers an emotional impact. The recipe notes about ice cream add a scoop of sweetness to level out Lou’s sometimes bitter realities."

AudioFile Magazine

"Julie Lumsden portrays 18-year-old Lou, a biracial Métis. Lumsden's steady pacing captures the stresses of Lou's continual encounters with racism, violence, financial insecurity, and the repercussions of the lies she's told to survive. Lumsden's performance also reflects Lou's complex feelings about her wealthy white biological father, who raped her mother. As Lou's ex-boyfriend pressures her sexually, listeners can hear how close to the edge she is. When a friend named King reenters her life, Lumsden evokes his caring and Lou's longing for tenderness and honesty. As Lou's father is released from prison and begins stalking her, Lumsden amplifies the teen's tension. She also expresses Lou's determination to be free, to understand herself, and to heal. S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, 2023 Audies Finalist"

Common Sense Media

"This first novel is beautifully written and brings the landscape and people of the Canadian prairie vividly to life with warmth and humor. There are also a lot of staunch cries for social justice and change that explore issues of identity, sexuality, racism, family, friendship, and so much more. But these big issues in The Summer of Bitter and Sweet provide important food for thought, and when they're raised they advance the story instead of bogging it down."

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Selected Press, Interviews & Blog Posts

Brant, Morrison, Thakor and Hamilton for The Conversation "Indigenous-authored novels: great reads for young adults"
Staff for CBC Books "Meet 14 Canadian writers who won Canada's biggest literary awards this year"
We Are Kid Lit Collective for School Library Journal "17 Titles to Diversify Teens’ Summer Reading"
Talia Kliot for CBC Books "3 books by David A. Robertson among those nominated for First Nations Communities Read Awards"
25 Canadian Books to Read for Pride Month Selection
Joanne Sallay for Teachers on Call "Hooked on Books with Forest of Reading Nominee Jen Ferguson"
A #VAREADS YA Book for 2023-2024
A Garden State Teen Book Award Nominee for 2023
Selected for the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) 2023 Choices List
A 2022 Cybil Award Winner in the Young Adult Category
Nahlah Ayed for IDEAS "Award-winning writers on finding ways to heal"
Ryan B. Patrick for CBC Books "8 Canadian writers reflect on healing in this series from the 2022 Governor General's Literary Award winners"
An Ontario Library Association Best Bet Book for Young Adult.
A 2023 ALA Rainbow List Selection and a Top 10 for Teen Readers Selection.
Angeline Boulley for Publisher's Weekly: "10 Essential Books for Teens by Indigenous Authors"
A 2023 Rise: A Feminist Book Project Selection
A Cybils Finalist for Young Adult Fiction 2022
A Boston Public Library "BPL Teen Services Picks: Best YA Books of 2022"
CBC's Best Canadian Books For Kids and Young Adults of 2022
Costa B. Pappas for Kirkus: "Best Teen & YA Books of 2022: Jen Ferguson"
Matthew Clark for The Hub: "Best Fiction for Young Adults Featured Review of The Summer of Bitter and Sweet"
Buzzfeed's Best Young Adult Books of 2022

Finalist for the 2023 Morris Award
Horn Book FanFare Book 2022
A Kirkus Best Young Adult Book of 2022

A Chicago Public Library "Best Teen Fiction of 2022"
Trevor Corkum for 49th Shelf: "The Chat with 2022 Governor General's Award Winner Jen Ferguson"
Winner of the Governor General Literary Award for Young People's Literature – Text
Nominee for the 2023 White Pine Award.
Name
d a Finalist of the Governor General Literary Awards for Young People's Literature – Text
An Indigo Top 10 Best Teen Books of 2022
A NPR Best Book of 2022

Lili at Utopia State of Mind: "Interview with Jen Ferguson"
Jessie Wiegand WGRT's LIMElight: "Who Is Telling the Stories of Indigenous People?"
Trisha Collopy for Star Tribune: "Books for slow days"
Caitlyn Paxson for NPR: "5 YA books that offer a nuanced reading experience for summer"
Indigo's Pick of the Month
The Fold Kids 2022 Summer Reading List
Michele Kirichanskaya for Geeks Out: "Interview with Jen Ferguson"
Newportbury Literary Festival Panel: "Secrets and Family Ties: Jen Ferguson and Grace Shim on Their Debut Novels"
AJ Eversole for Cynsations Blog: "Jen Ferguson on What She Has Learned As A Writer"
Shelly Irwin's The WGVU Morning Show: "Jen Ferguson, discusses her latest work"
Arroe Collins Like It's Live:
"Jen Ferguson Releases The Summer of Bitter and Sweet"
Cyrus Webb's and Conversations Live: "Author Jen Ferguson Talks The Summer of Bitter and Sweet"
We Need Diverse Books: "Ferguson’s Debut The Summer of Bitter and Sweet is a Romance That Refuses Simplification"
YA Books Central: "Author Chat with Jen Ferguson"
The Nerd Daily: "Read The First Chapter of Jen Ferguson's The Summer of Bitter and Sweet"
Native News Online: "A Powerful Novel Featuring a Métis Teen Girl"
Teen Librarian Toolbox: "Let’s Talk About Coming Out (in Life and Fiction), a guest post by Jen Ferguson"
The Horn Book's 2022 Summer Reading: High School

Buzzfeed's 44 New LGBTQA+ YA Novels You Need This Spring
Book Riot's Your Guide to Spring 2022 YA Books: April-June
Kirku's 10 Anticipated YA Books To Look for in 2022

COVER & DESCRIPTION
REVIEWS
SELECTED PRESS
BUY LINKS
THOSE PINK MOUNTAIN NIGHTS
COVER & DESCRIPTION
REVIEWS
PinkMountain_Ferguson.jpg

Cover Credits

Illustrated by Bailey Macabre; Jacket designed by Laura Mock.

 

Description

In her remarkable second novel following her acclaimed debut, The Summer of Bitter and Sweet, which won the Governor General’s Award and received six starred reviews, Jen Ferguson writes about the hurt of a life stuck in past tense, the hum of connections that cannot be severed, and one week in a small snowy town that changes everything. 

Over-achievement isn’t a bad word—for Berlin, it’s the goal. She’s securing excellent grades, planning her future, and working a part-time job at Pink Mountain Pizza, a legendary local business. Who says she needs a best friend by her side?

Dropping out of high school wasn’t smart—but it was necessary for Cameron. Since his cousin Kiki’s disappearance, it’s hard enough to find

the funny side of life, especially when the whole town has forgotten Kiki. To them, she’s just another missing Native girl.

 

People at school label Jessie a tease, a rich girl—and honestly, she’s both. But Jessie knows she contains multitudes. Maybe her new job crafting pizzas will give her the high-energy outlet she desperately wants.

When the weekend at Pink Mountain Pizza takes unexpected turns, all three teens will have to acknowledge the various ways they’ve been hurt—and how much they need each other to hold it all together.

 

The Heartdrum imprint centers a wide range of intertribal voices, visions, and stories while welcoming all young readers, with an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes. In partnership with We Need Diverse Books.

Teaching/Reading Resources: Epic Reads/HarperStacks Book Club Guide.

Reviews

 

⭐ Kirkus Reviews

"Set in Alberta, this introspective, character-driven story examines heavy topics, including Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, depression, and anti-Blackness, with sensitivity and compassion. This sophomore outing by Michif/Métis and white author Ferguson features lyrical prose that softens the emotionally fraught narrative without sacrificing suspense, resulting in a mystery that subtly builds to a shocking reveal. Intimate and impactful."

⭐ The Horn Book

"Through a well-characterized ensemble cast, Ferguson (The Summer of Bitter and Sweet, rev. 5/22), who is Michif/Métis and white, addresses the myriad difficult topics facing her characters with sensitivity and care."

⭐ School Library Journal

"A YA read-alike of Rebecca Makkai’s I Have Some Questions for You, this story touches on many contemporary issues as part of their everyday lives and will have broad appeal. A first purchase."

⭐ Shelf Awareness

"Ferguson's stirring narrative from multiple points of view features a friendship breakup, a manifestation of depression as perfectionism, and racism in the 'corrupt colonial country of Canada.' Cam, who is Cree, fears his sisters will disappear because 'it was what happened to Native women and girls. To Two-Spirit people.' Achingly stunning prose, 'absolute mischief,' and exhilarating kisses compel a fast read."

Quill & Quire

"At its core, Those Pink Mountain Nights is a story about learning to see the individual beneath the label, about healing through companionship, and about fighting for what makes you whole. Berlin, Cameron, and Jessie’s campaign to save their beloved local pizzeria from being sold to a sleazy corporation even as they seek closure about their friend’s disappearance forms the heart of the story, and is best summed up by Berlin: “When we can let the things that bring us together fall apart, become places without souls, it’s another way we learn not to care about each other.” Through the novel, readers – Indigenous Peoples and settlers alike – learn to care just a little bit more about the people they live next to, and listen to the hum of the universe that makes them whole."

Booklist

"This is a book that fully immerses the reader in each character's unique voice and perspective while still feeling like a true ensemble piece. Ferguson tackles many heavy topics, but the narrative never stalls under their weight. This will leave readers thinking about its characters' strengths and struggles long after they finish the last page."

Publisher's Weekly

"Via an intersectionally diverse cast, this character-driven story by Ferguson (The Summer of Bitter and Sweet) tackles macro-level issues such as anti-Blackness as well as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit Individuals alongside familiar teenage troubles surrounding friendship breakups. Ages 13–up."

Selected Press, Interviews & Blog Posts
 

A 2024 Capitol Choices Noteworthy Book for Kids and Teens

A 2024 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection

Hannah Luppe for Young Adulting Review "5 Questions for Jen Ferguson"

A 2024 Rise: A Feminist Book Project Selection

A 2023 Cybils Young Adult Finalist

Ryan B. Patrick for The Next Chapter "Why writing fiction for young people inspires Jen Ferguson to keep hope alive"

Sheila Grier, Ericka Brunson-Rochette, Liisa Sjoblom for The Bend Bulletin "Curl up by the fireplace with a book recommendation from Deschutes Public Library"

A CBC Books Best Canadian Book for Kids & Teens 2023

A Kirkus Best Young Adult Book of 2023

Laura Simeon for Kirkus "6 Must-Read YA Novels by Indigenous Authors"

Fischels, Troutman and Nebbe for Iowa Public Radio: "Talk of Iowa's 2023 holiday book guide for youngsters"

Roger Sutton for The Horn Book "Publishers' Preview: Fall 2023: Five Questions for Jen Ferguson"
Deirdre Baker for The Toronto Star "These 8 new books will keep kids inspired, entertained and occupied"
Lacy Baugher Milas for Paste "The Best New YA Books of September 2023"
AJ Eversole for Cynsations "Author Interview: Jen Ferguson on Sophomore Books & Shaping Characters"
Charity Nebbe for Talk of Iowa
"Jen Ferguson explores the joys and difficulties of growing up Métis in her new novel"
Teen Librarian Toolbox "Book Bans, Anti-Queer-and-Trans-Legislation, and “Quieter” Queer Books: An Open Letter"
Elise Dumpleton for The Nerd Daily "Q&A: Jen Ferguson, Author of ‘Those Pink Mountain Nights
Tirzah Price for Book Riot New September 2023 YA Releases
Staff for Kirkus: "20 Best Books To Read in September"
Staff for Kirkus: "150 Most Anticipated Books of the Fall"
Staff for CBC Books "25 Canadian YA books to read in fall 2023"
Inderjit Deogun for Quill And Quire: "2023 Fall BFYP Preview: Young Adult and Nonfiction"
Staff for We Are Teachers "Best New Books Coming September 2023 for Kids and Teachers"
Neely Bardwell for Native News Online: "Q&A with Michif/Métis writer, Jen Ferguson..."

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
We Need Diverse Books Cover Reveal and Q&A

Official Announcement

Rosemary Brosnan and Cynthia Leitch Smith at HarperCollins/Heartdrum have acquired, in a two-book deal, A Constellation of Minor Bears by Stonewall Honor author Jen Ferguson (Métis/white) (The Summer of Bitter and Sweet). In this contemporary YA novel, two Métis teens whose once-best friendship is hanging by a thread set out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in a long-planned post-graduation trip, but their fragile bond is put to the test when a runaway from an abusive weight loss camp unexpectedly joins their hiking group. Publication is planned for fall 2024; Patricia Nelson at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency handled the deal for world English rights.

ALT Text: Rosemary Brosnan and Cynthia Leitch Smith at HarperCollins/Heartdrum have acquired, in a two-book deal, A Constellation of Minor Bears by Stonewall Honor author Jen Ferguson (Métis/white) (The Summer of Bitter and Sweet). In this contemporary YA novel, two Métis teens whose once-best friendship is hanging by a thread set out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in a long-planned post-graduation trip, but their fragile bond is put to the test when a runaway from an abusive weight loss camp unexpectedly joins their hiking group. Publication is planned for fall 2024; Patricia Nelson at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency handled the deal for world English rights.

AConstellationOfMinorBears hc c.jpg

Cover Credits

Illustrated by Bailey Macabre; Jacket designed by Laura Mock.
 
Description
 

Award-winning author Jen Ferguson has written a powerful story about teens grappling with balancing resentment with enduring friendship—and how to move forward with a life that’s not what they’d imagined. 

         

Before that awful Saturday, Molly used to be inseparable from her brother, Hank, and his best friend, Tray. The indoor climbing accident that left Hank with a traumatic brain injury filled Molly with anger.

While she knows the accident wasn’t Tray’s fault, she will never forgive him for being there and failing to stop the damage. But she can’t forgive herself for not being there either.

Determined to go on the trio’s postgraduation hike of the Pacific Crest

Trail, even without Hank, Molly packs her bag. But when her parents put Tray in charge of looking out for her, she is stuck backpacking with the person who incites her easy anger.


Despite all her planning, the trail she’ll walk has a few more twists and turns ahead. . . .

Discover the evocative storytelling and emotion from the author of The Summer of Bitter and Sweet, which was the winner of the Governor General's Award, a Stonewall Award honor book, and a Morris Award finalist, as well as Those Pink Mountain Nights, a Kirkus Best Book of the Year!

Reviews

SELECTED PRESS
BUY LINKS
A CONSTELLATION OF MINOR BEARS
BORDER MARKERS

Please visit the Border Markers page for more information.

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