Local author Shannon M.Parker was the most recent guest at Lincoln Academy’s Books and Brunch program on Tuesday, January 23. The group discussed Parker’s latest release from Simon & Schuster, The Rattled Bones, which is set in midcoast Maine and features a teen protagonist.

“Parker led a lively discussion with the group and talked openly about the process of writing The Rattled Bones, and the important themes she wove into the story. Parker’s novel explores Maine’s lobstering culture, the history of Malaga Island, mental health, the definition of family and love, strong female characters and the choices they make. Also, it’s a really great ghost story,” said Lincoln Academy librarian Cathi Howell, who organizes Books and Brunch.

A native New Englander, Parker traveled to 37 countries across five continents and earned three degrees before choosing to call Damariscotta home. “I’d heard of Books and Brunch prior to my visit, but I wasn’t fully aware of the power of this program until I was invited to play a small part,” said the author. “The students were insightful and engaged and they inherently trusted that their opinions on literature, life and aspirations would be legitimized. Truth is, I learned more from their questions than I brought to the discussion.”

The students were also pleased. “This session of Books and Brunch was my favorite of all the sessions I’ve gone to since coming to LA,” said LA senior Sammi Aho, who has been participating in Books and Brunch since she was in ninth grade. “The Rattled Bones has themes like mental health and female empowerment that mean a lot to me. Being able to speak with Ms. Parker about her thoughts on these issues in the book made for a very enriching experience. I am excited to read her upcoming books.”

Forrest Holbrook is an eighth grader at the Center for Teaching and Learning who plans to attend LA next year. He attended Books and Brunch with his mother Sherri Holbrook, who said, “That was great! What an inspiring conversation for young writers. I’m so thankful for the experience, and we plan to come again.”

One of the traditions of the program is to share a themed lunch prepared by LA chef Mikael Andersson, and The Rattled Bones lunch included lobster stew, corn chowder, garden salad, and Gram’s biscuits with boysenberry jam. Howell topped off the meal by providing Gram’s butterscotch cupcakes with chocolate frosting.

Parker candidly shared her experiences as an author, including the process of publishing her first young adult novel, The Girl Who Fell, as well as the three new books she has in the works. Participants asked a range of thoughtful questions about Parker’s writing and research process, and particularly noted the authenticity of her characters, Parker’s treatment of mental health issues, family relations, and the lobstering community. “Everyone also loved the ghost story,” said Howell. “That added a great twist to this book and was a really poignant way to bring the history of Malaga into the contemporary storyline.”

The next Books and Brunch program will take place on February 28, featuring the book March by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, in celebration of Black History Month. March is the first book in a graphic novel trilogy about the Civil Rights Movement, told from the perspective of US Congressman John Lewis. Lincoln Academy social studies teacher Kelley Duffy will be the guest moderator for this discussion. The public is welcome to participate. Books are now available in the Lincoln Academy library.