Caylen D. Smith, teacher, tutor, writer. She wrote Ripples, Book One of the Guardian Series, her debut young adult fantasy adventure novel, at the age of seventeen and published it at nineteen. To date, Smith has published 5 books. Her latest, a short story, The Tennis Shoe Angel, appears in When God Happens: Angels, Miracles and Heavenly Encounters, April 2019, Salem Publications. Smith loves to read, attend musicals and live performances and is devoted to her passion, writing. She is currently working on her master's in English while teaching rhetoric, grammar and composition to high school and middle school students.
Smith's latest project, Honey, was entered into the BookLife Prize literary contest. It is her first contemporary story and was received favorably. She looks forward to one day sharing Honey's story.
Plot: Smith's compassionate, quiet, character-driven YA novel focuses on family and the challenges of adapting to changes beyond one's control.
Prose: The storytelling in Honey is inviting, clear, and polished. Josephine's voice is immediate, warm, and self-aware.
Originality: Josephine's circumstances--facing the prospect of having a classmate become her stepbrother--is a fun and unusual one. However, it's the seamless, shining prose that allows the work to stand apart from other contemporary YA novels.
Character/Execution: Josephine's uncertainty relating to her mother's impending marriage is relatable and authentic, while her relationship with her future stepbrother is ultimately endearing. Side characters are well-rendered, benefiting the story on their own terms rather than simply in service to the protagonist's narrative.
Critic's Report BookLife Prize, 8.75 - Sept. 2020