When Aspen’s best friend gives her a DNA test kit, a half teaspoon of spit is all it takes to discover her entire life has been a lie.
I am proud to share the cover of my debut young adult novel-in-verse, releasing May 30, 2022! This is the book of my heart. This is the book based on my true story. This is the book that helped me through a very real, very difficult time in my life. Four years ago, I took a DNA test and discovered the man who raised me and whom I loved dearly was not my biological father.
Upon learning the truth, I was faced with a gamete of emotions. I felt like a fool for not knowing what is now, clearly obvious. The news rocked the foundation I built my life upon, and my trust was broken. I was heartbroken and at the same time, angry, that I was robbed of my right to know my biological father and of so many possibilities and opportunities.
My mother was upset with me for learning the truth. Our close relationship was shattered and getting back to the way we were before seemed impossible.
As I have always done, I turned to poetry for therapy. I wrote for years and at some point, decided to tell my story. Because I am a children’s book author, I chose to write, The Complete Book of Aspen, based on my story from the point of view of a sixteen-year-old.
With the help of her friends, Aspen goes on a journey to find her biological father. She knows it’s a risk (he could slam the door in her face), but it’s a risk she must take. This is a story of heartbreak and betrayal, yes, but it’s also a story of forgiveness and healing. I hope you will read it and share it with others, especially those struggling with this all-too-common reality many of us face today with DNA testing.
Below you will find an excerpt. I’ll be sharing more poems (in various formats) from the book after its release.
Learning that her beloved late father was not her biological father—and that her mother had deceived her—ignites a wild storm of emotions. Aspen struggles with her identity and the burden of being the gatekeeper of this closely guarded family secret. When her mother refuses to reveal her biological father’s name, Aspen sets out on a courageous journey to find him.
A heartbreakingly hopeful young adult novel-in-verse by award-winning author and poet, Danna Smith, based on her true DNA experience. Backmatter includes an author’s note and explanation of poetic forms.
My best friend, Sophie says DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. The genetic code that determines the why, the what, and the who of every living thing. Cells. Nucleotides. Double Helix. Whatever. All I've learned is DNA sucks at keeping secrets.
Reserve your copy: released May 30, 2022
The Complete Book of Aspen: A Novel by Danna Smith May 30, 2022 Plumbago Press Ages: 14 to adult ISBN: print: 978-0-578-332482 ISBN: e-book: 978-0-578-332499
Praise: advance reviews
“The death of Aspen’s father breaks her small family. Aspen’s mother slips into depression, leaving Aspen and her brother, Cooper, to hold together the broken pieces of their lives. Time, love, and medical attention allow Aspen’s mom to heal, and their family begins to find a new normal. But just as the sun starts to peek out from the dark clouds of depression and loss, Aspen and her friend Sophie get the results from their DNA tests… Told in beautiful verse that perfectly captures a wide range of emotional punches-to-the gut, this story paints vivid word-pictures of wonderfully imperfect characters, each unique and each reacting to the revelation in different but utterly believable ways.” —Erin Cabatingan
“Aspen gets her DNA tested without telling her mother. Is the truth behind Aspen’s results her secret or her mother’s? Who has a right to the truth and whose life might be upended as a result? As Aspen tries to find her birth father without her mother’s help, her quest has a ripple effect… Smith’s novel-in-verse is tender and satisfying. It is a gift, not just to a young adult in this particular situation, but to anyone trying to understand who they are.” Kate Coombs, poet and author of Water Sings Blue
“…I couldn’t put it down! While the pain of such a truth is undeniable, so is the grace of forgiveness and hope.” —Linda Whalen author
“Smith draws from her own DNA experience to create a riveting story and solid, three-dimensional characters who will stay with readers long after the book ends.” —Bobi Martin, educator/librarian
“…a fascinating page-turner that drew me in right away. Smith’s verse is not only lyrical and compelling, but it also shows a mastery of technique. The concrete poems add visual imagery and shape the mood of this heart-felt (and at times, humorous) story. I love that this book is based on the author’s true story. An exciting read I highly recommend!” —Linda Joy Singleton, author of The Seer, Dead Girl, and Curious Cat Spy Club series.
“The Complete Book of Aspen is one of the more astounding, thoughtful, and moving books I’ve read in a long time. Told in unique poetry form, you will agonize along with Aspen as she learns to cope with the reality many of us face today with DNA testing.” —Melody DeLeon, Author