Young Adult

The Complete Book of Aspen: A Novel
by Danna Smith

May 30, 2022
Plumbago Press
Ages: 14 to adult

  • ISBN print: 978-0-578-332482
  • ISBN e-b00k: 978-0-578-332499

When Aspen’s best friend gives her a DNA test kit, a half teaspoon of spit is all it takes to discover her entire life has been a lie.

The death of Aspen’s father breaks her small family. Aspen’s mother slips into depression, leaving Aspen and her brother, Cooper, to hold together the broken pieces of their lives. Time, love, and medical attention allow Aspen’s mom to heal, and their family begins to find a new normal. But just as the sun starts to peek out from the dark clouds of depression and loss, Aspen and her friend Sophie get the results of their DNA tests.

            Learning that her beloved late father was not her biological father—and that her mother had deceived her—ignites a wild storm of emotions. Aspen struggles with her identity and the burden of being the gatekeeper of this closely guarded family secret. When her mother refuses to reveal her biological father’s name, Aspen sets out on a courageous journey to find him.

            A heartbreakingly hopeful young adult novel told in narrative and creative verse by award-winning author and poet Danna Smith, based on her true DNA experience.

My best friend, Sophie
says DNA stands for
deoxyribonucleic acid.
The genetic code
that determines
the why,
the what,
and the who
of every living thing.
Double Helix.
All I've learned
is DNA sucks
at keeping
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“…It’s definitely a re-read for me. Written in the same style and heart as Rupi Kauer. —Amazon Reviewer

“Danna Smith’s novel is original, a work of art that will appeal irresistibly to readers who enjoy both well-crafted, intelligently-plotted stories and poetry.” —Cristina Prescott, The Book Commentary.

“… Told in beautiful verse that perfectly captures a wide range of emotional punches-to-the gut, this story paints vivid word-pictures of wonderfully imperfect characters, each unique and each reacting to the revelation in different but utterly believable ways.” —Erin Cabatingan

“Aspen gets her DNA tested without telling her mother. Is the truth behind Aspen’s results her secret or her mother’s? Who has a right to the truth and whose life might be upended as a result? As Aspen tries to find her birth father without her mother’s help, her quest has a ripple effect… Smith’s novel-in-verse is tender and satisfying. It is a gift, not just to a young adult in this particular situation, but to anyone trying to understand who they are.” Kate Coombs, poet and author of Water Sings Blue

“…I couldn’t put it down! While the pain of such a truth is undeniable, so is the grace of forgiveness and hope.” —Linda Whalen author

“Smith draws from her own DNA experience to create a riveting story and solid, three-dimensional characters who will stay with readers long after the book ends.” —Bobi Martin, educator/librarian

“…a fascinating page-turner that drew me in right away. Smith’s verse is not only lyrical and compelling, but it also shows a mastery of technique. The concrete poems add visual imagery and shape the mood of this heart-felt (and at times, humorous) story. I love that this book is based on the author’s true story. An exciting read I highly recommend!” —Linda Joy Singleton, author of The Seer, Dead Girl, and Curious Cat Spy Club series.

“The Complete Book of Aspen is one of the more astounding, thoughtful, and moving books I’ve read in a long time. Told in unique poetry form, you will agonize along with Aspen as she learns to cope with the reality many of us face today with DNA testing.” —Melody DeLeon, Author 

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Suspenseful and a thing of sheer beauty, emotionally rich and psychologically engaging.“- The Book Commentary #DNA #dnatest #YA #novel