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updated: 11/19/2012 5:34 PM

Two first-time novelists selected for 'Naperville Reads'

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The 12th annual Naperville Reads celebration will feature the works of two first-time novelists: R.J. Palacio and Naomi Benaron.

And more than any other year, their works were chosen to give the community something to talk about.

"Both authors deal with very complex issues in their books that lend themselves to discussion," Naperville Public Library spokeswoman Susan Greenwood said. "We're encouraging the community to read books and get together to discuss the issues in the books."

In "Wonder," Palacio captures both the difficulty and the importance of choosing kindness.

The novel tells the story of August "Auggie" Pullman and the struggles he faces as a boy born with severe facial deformities as he begins attending public school and the friendships he makes.

"'Wonder' is technically a young adult book but it's also a wonderful book for parents to read and discuss with their younger children," Greenwood said. "Really it's all about the importance of being kind to fellow students."

Palacio will visit Naperville in early February and will make presentations to area sixth-graders as well as the public.

In "Running the Ridge," Benaron tackles the subject of Rwandan genocide and depicts the violent civil war between the Hutus and Tutsis but also describes the beauty of family and community.

"'Running the Ridge' is a wonderful book for book clubs to talk about because it deals with that whole thing that happens when people go against their own people," Greenwood said. "Even though it talks about violence, it ends on a very hopeful note for the future."

Benaron, an avid runner, will visit Naperville between April 3 and 6 to make presentations to area high schools as well as the public. Greenwood said a "low-key and informal fun run" likely will be scheduled during her visit.

Naperville Reads started in 2002 as a way to provide Naperville residents with a way to share their reading experiences and enhance their understanding of the featured books and the authors who wrote them.

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