Radio Bristol Book Club: Halfway to the Sky - The Birthplace of Country Music
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Radio Bristol Book Club: Halfway to the Sky

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club! Each month, readers from BCM and the Bristol Public Library come together to celebrate and explore one book inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage. We invite you to read along and then listen to Radio Bristol on the fourth Thursday of each month at 11:00am when we will dig deep into the feelings and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm!

The Appalachian Trail has been the topic of many memoirs and fictional stories – indeed, we read and discussed Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods last year – but very few of these involve young adults. Halfway to the Sky fills that gap. Dani is a twelve-year-old girl who is looking for an escape from her reality at home. She wants to do something extraordinary, and so she decides to walk the length of the Appalachian Trail, all 2,200 miles. Her adventure doesn’t turn out quite the way she had planned, but maybe the old saying is right: it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. This is a story about family, loss, love, hope, and determination, told as only the gifted Kimberly Brubaker Bradley can tell it.

Cover of the book showing a young girl stepping up onto a rock on the trail with the mountains showing behind her.
The cover of Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s Halfway to the Sky embodies the focus of her book – the determined look in a young girl’s eyes, while she’s stepping upward and forward, wearing hiking boots, holding tightly onto her backpack and surrounded by the tops of mountains and trees. She almost touches the sun as she’s depicted halfway to the sky.

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley lives on a 52-acre farm in Bristol Tennessee/Virginia – right on the border of both states and nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. Bradley was a chemistry major at Smith College in North Hampton, Massachusetts, where a classmate suggested she take a course in children’s literature. Newbery Medalist Patricia Maclachlan was the instructor, and both she and Bradley soon realized Bradley had a gift for writing. After college, Bradley started medical school as planned but dropped out after six weeks in order to pursue her dream of being an author. One could say that she still put that degree to work, because amazing chemistry between her characters is one of the hallmarks of Bradley’s work. Although her books are marketed for children and teens, adults have discovered her fine writing and storytelling and have become true fans.

Bradley has published 17 books, which have won several awards and honors. Her children’s book The War That Saved My Life received the Newbery Honor award in 2016. Bradley is married to her high school sweetheart Bart and has two children.

Author photograph: Headshot of KBB wearing a blue sweater, dangly earrings, a large necklace, and glasses.

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Permission by the author

Be sure to tune in on Thursday, June 25 at 11:00am to hear the book club discussion about Halfway to the Sky and listen to an interview afterwards with the author! You can find us on the dial at 100.1 FM, streaming live on Radio Bristol, or via the Radio Bristol app. The book is available at the Bristol Public Library so be sure to pick up a copy and read it ahead of time – the librarians will be happy to help you find the book. We look forward to sharing our thoughts on this interesting story!

Looking ahead: Our book pick for July is Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam by Pope Brock, which we’ll be discussing on Thursday, July 23. Happy reading!

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