Event Recap: Ruth Tenzer Feldman at Broadway Books

Last night, I hiked two miles across Portland to attend a reading by Ruth Tenzer Feldman at one of Portland’s lovely independent bookstores, Broadway Books.

I first heard of Feldman a few weeks ago, when she did a reading at Another Read Through, the bookstore where I work. At ART we hold readings upstairs in our loft, and since I was downstairs working the desk, I didn’t get a chance to hear the event. I was glad to see a familiar name on Broadway Books’ event calendar, so I decided to check it out.

Author Ruth Tenzer Feldman reads, gesturing animatedly, at a podium with the Broadway Books logo on it.
Ruth Tenzer Feldman

It was a relaxed, almost intimate affair, gathered in the back of the bookstore. Feldman chatted with the attendees, and she and I made proper introductions of ourselves while everyone got settled.

Feldman was there to read from Seven Stitches, the third book of her YA Blue Thread Saga. The first book, Blue Thread, won the 2013 Oregon Book Award for Young Adult Literature and has been called one of the best feminist book for young readers by the American Library Association. I went into this reading knowing basically nothing about the series, so you can imagine how that piqued my interest.

The series, which is hard to pin to a genre but may be best described as time travel in the pursuit of justice, pairs not only time periods, but also teenage girls with the time-traveling female mentor Serakh, who guides them as they learn to understand and combat injustice in their own times, and in the ancient world. Serakh’s character is based on actual stories in the Judeo-Christian canon, including biblical census reports several hundred years apart who list the same woman as one of the few important enough to be counted among the men.

Seven Stitches alternates between Portland in the year 2059 and sixteenth-century Istanbul. The modern crisis centers around the aftermath of the massive Cascadian subduction zone earthquake and the thousands of people left homeless by its destruction. Feldman’s past experience in thinking about housing justice led her to conceptualize an emergency housing system, pejoratively referred to by one interviewer as “socialized AirB&B.”

The reading itself was really enjoyable. Feldman alternated between reading short excerpts from Seven Stitches and giving summaries and commentary about the novel and the series as a whole.

I picked up the first book, Blue Thread, and will hopefully be able to review it in the next few weeks.

The Blue Thread Saga books are available for purchase at several bookstores in Portland, including Powell’s, Broadway Books, and Another Read Through; they’re also available online through Indiebound and Amazon.


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