by Sara Conway ’21
Just when you thought author Tahereh Mafi had said goodbye to her Shatter Me characters forever, the story goes on. On March 6, Books of Wonder, located on 18th St. in Union Square, hosted Mafi and her husband, Ransom Riggs, author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, to kick off her release tour for Restore Me. This novel is the first book of a new trilogy that will continue Juliette and Warner’s stories from the original Shatter Me series.
Books of Wonder’s downtown location is tucked away from the main chaos of 5th Avenue but still easily accessible from the heart of Union Square. The bookstore is on the smaller side but is still able to boast a variety of books ranging from their young adult section to their middle grade novels.
Towards the back of the store, behind glass, are the originals of classics, which are all for sale, such as a loved copy of Where the Wild Things Are and a first edition of Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets. It’s a cozy and familiar place, where New Yorkers or visitors of the city can come in and get lost in a book for a few hours.
A crowd had already formed by the blocked-off seating area an hour before the 6 p.m. event, and excited chatter and the laughter of book-loving friends could be heard throughout the store. Mafi’s tour stop at Books of Wonder not only included a conversation with Riggs and a Q&A with the audience members, but also a signing, in which fans had to purchase one of Mafi’s books in order to receive an autograph.
Enthusiastic applause and an abundance of cheers followed Mafi and Riggs as they entered. Once the conversation was in full swing, Riggs asked why Mafi had decided to continue the stories of her Shatter Me characters. Mafi considered her answer for a moment, and then responded that she had gone back to reread her books and realized that there was still more story to be told; the stories of Juliette and Warner, the main characters in Restore Me, were not quite finished.
As the conversation portion of the evening came to a close, Mafi briefly spoke on her latest project, a novel recently announced entitled A Very Large Expanse of Sea to be released in October 2018. She considers it the “most autobiographical thing [she’s] ever written,” as the story follows a Muslim teen living in a post 9/11 world, an experience that she is very familiar with.
An unexpected piece of the story, as Mafi revealed, is her protagonist’s desire to breakdance, another detail from her own life. Riggs mentioned, to the crowd’s delight, that the first time he saw his wife breakdance was at the Barnes & Noble in Los Angeles.
The Books of Wonder leg of the Restore Me tour concluded with the author signings and a crowd numbering close to 100. Waiting fans browsed the bursting shelves, exclaiming over the books that they recognized. The excited chatter heard before Mafi and Riggs came into Books of Wonder leapt around the signing line and echoed among the exhilarated fans as they stepped out into the chilly night air with their personalized books.