Today at Great New Books, we have the pleasure of hosting guest contributor Lauren Miller, author of the novel, PARALLEL. Parallel by Lauren Miller

Thanks to Lauren, we have a personalized, autographed copy of Parallel to give away to one lucky commenter at the end of this post (details below). Thank you, Lauren, for joining us at Great New Books and sharing one of your favorite reads with us today!

Author, Lauren Miller, on one of her recent favorite books:


I was in a book rut.  I’d started and stopped at least two, novels with 4+ star ratings on Amazon, stories I was supposed to love.  It was starting to really irritate me, actually, my inability to find a good book.  It was the holidays, so there was nothing good on TV, and we were traveling a lot.  I needed something to read.

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay popped up on GoodReads.  The reviews were raves, but I wasn’t going to be misled by that again.  I scrutinized the synopsis, which begins with this excerpt:

“I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.”

I was sold at “things suck.”  I could hear the teenage protagonist’s voice so plainly in those words that I had to know her story.  I downloaded the book and began to read immediately. The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

The next three days passed in a blur.

I will give you a taste of what the book is about because that’s why people read book reviews after all.  But let me first just say this:  in her debut, Katja Millay has written a story so full of emotion and resonance and truth that it will rip you open a little bit.  But isn’t that what books are supposed to do?

The Sea of Tranquility is the story of two teenagers, told in dual narratives — We first meet Nastya, the new girl at school, a former piano prodigy who, after suffering a brutal attack that destroyed her hand, has taken a vow of silence.  Then we meet Josh, the loner in her shop class, who has lost every person he loves. These two slowly become friends, and then they become more.  Nastya begins to open up to Josh (eventually, she speaks, but only to him), but there are still secrets she is holding back.  We understand that Nastya’s healing will only come when she can speak the truth that she is holding onto, and we, like Josh, yearn for her get there.

To say more would spoil the experience of getting to know these two extraordinary characters.  They are so vividly imagined, so genuine and relatable and yet so unique, the way real people are, it’s easy to forget that they exist only on the page.  Especially when you find yourself thinking about them and dreaming about them long after you’ve finished their incredible, heartbreaking, powerfully hopeful story.


Lauren Miller resolved to write a novel in the first 100 days of her child’s life and blogged about it, an experiment she called “embracing the detour”. The results of her writing turned into her debut novel PARALLEL.

Find out more about Lauren at her website:

More about Lauren’s novel, PARALLEL:

Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She’d go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she’s in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it’s as if her past has been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby’s life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby’s senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby’s never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn’t choose, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that’s finally within reach.

To enter the drawing to win the personalized, autographed copy of Parallel, leave a comment (any comment) below, from Wednesday, July 10 until Friday, July 12 at midnight Eastern time. Great New Books will email the winner individually and announce them in the comments on Saturday, July 13. Thank you for joining us!