Katie Pierson

Media and Reviews

Bustle.com, January 22, 2016
School Library Journal, August 2015 issue
Salon.com, August 8, 2015
Foreword Reviews, Fall 2015 issue
Cosmo.com, July 1, 2015
Lincoln Journal-Star, June 21, 2015
Literary Week.com, May 28, 2015

KMSP Fox 9, 1/23/16
NBC Nebraska, 6/26/15
KOLN TV, Lincoln, Nebraska, 6/23/15

KFAI, 3/6/16
KZUM, 2/15/16
WCCO, 1/24/16
WCCO, 7/3/15
WebbWeaver Blog Talk Radio, 6/26/15
AM 950 “The Morning Grind” with Matt McNeil, 6/9/15

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Reader feedback

All I can say is: ’89 Walls is one of those books you either love completely, or you hate so much that coherent thoughts aren’t possible- but whatever it is for you, the things you feel while you read Seth and Quinn’s story- will be strong, and almost even overwhelming! Set in 1989, is a love story between a boy and a girl; a rich girl and a poor boy, a Republican and a Democrat, and two people with completely different viewpoints on all things political- and that completely rocked me! I never expected something so well researched- I didn’t expect politics, or even education to be a major part of this book- SO much more than the regular ‘Oh- Geometry Sucks!’ And it was ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT! I loved the fights, I loved the chemistry, I loved the notes, I loved the sexual awkwardness even, I loved the back stories that each of them had! There was something so raw, so undeniably cute about the two of them and I couldn’t get enough! I can only say that you MUST read it! It was a brilliant book- and I would definitely read it again!” –Aditi, NetGalley reviewer

“A candid coming of age story more in the vein of Judy Blume than Stephanie Meyer. Although it is probably intended for the YA reader, its kindhearted depiction of 1980s in small town America made it a joy for this teen of the 80s to read. Adolescent sexuality is portrayed frankly, and the issue of abortion is also addressed. The novel addresses serious topics such as poverty, chronic illness and end of life challenges, but does so without leaving the reader overwhelmed. Katie Pierson manages to capture the exaltation and terror of being an adolescent, evoking the freedom and promise of the end of high school.” — Carla, educator and NetGalley reviewer

“’89 Walls is an engaging, thoughtful and refreshing surprise in the YA genre. A great balance is struck between Seth and Quinn’s romance and the real day-to-day political issues they’re facing, from very different view points. Pierson skillfully showcases many points of view, and flawed characters, without villanising any one of them. Difficult issues are raised, and consequences felt, but they’re never sensationalised. In addition, the writing felt effortless and the story flowed well, sweeping me along in its current. The 80s setting was richly imagined but never felt gimmicky. All in all a wonderful book, especially for a teen audience.” — Sorcha, NetGalley reviewer

I enjoyed this book, given that I was alive and remember some, if not all, of it. Younger readers might not, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a well-written, engaging novel. With some echoes of Eleanor and Park, The Fault in Our Stars, and the like, ’89 Walls is recommended for anyone who likes emotional but also humorous tales of teen connections. Side note: The political discourse in the novel is well-done. Students often struggle to reconcile what they hear parents espouse with what they hear at school, or believe is right on their own. This book allows that give-and-take some of the spotlight without hogging it all.” – Michael, NetGalley reviewer

This book was a really powerful look into the way the worlds of two people from very different lives and backgrounds collided at the close of the Cold War in 1989. I enjoyed the two characters separately although I felt at the beginning, their romance was a little bit contrived, it grew together and I really enjoyed them together in the end as they helped each other and grew as people together. I loved reading their class discussions and seeing the way that they felt about what were current events at the time and the way that hearing each other talk and talking with their teacher changed the way they saw things. Along with being about the cold war, I loved the way that this had things like positive sexuality and women’s rights like abortion laws in the book and gave it a more rounded out feel. It was all handled in a very realistic way and I really just wanted the book to be a little longer!” — Wildfire Reviews

I really liked Seth and Quinn, the main characters in ’89 Walls, and my sympathy with them made this a good read: I was genuinely rooting for them. The author has a lot to say about American politics, diplomacy and international relations (within the context of the end of the Cold War), and it’s to her credit that this was actually pretty fascinating. I was particularly intrigued to read about the Republican Party before it got highjacked by fundamentalist Christians (with Quinn’s father being both a card-carrying Republican and vehemently pro-choice, for example).” – Janet, book blogger

SUPER FUN! This was a really light read but a really fun one, great for the summer. I loved the characters and I loved the political elements. Thanks so much for making this wonderful work available to me!” – Kate, NetGalley reviewer

“I just finished the book and all I can really say is wow! It was just wow! It really blew me away…I think the book screamed John Green. Which, I think, is why I loved it so much. You and John have a very similar writing style: it is frickin funny, slightly risqué and serious when it needs to be. My standards for books have been raised after my best friend introduced me to John Green. For me, ’89 Walls is a classic teenage romance novel with a mix of very intellectual characters and drama.” –Mara, age 15

89 Walls really surprised me. I was never a fan of politics or the 80″s, but consider me converted because of this book. “89 Walls had a perfect mix of politics and romance. I really loved the conflict, the plot, and the setting, the were all a great fit to the story. The time period was well explained and I felt like I’ve lived there before, when in reality I wasn’t even born yet. Most aspects of the book were great, and the character development was phenomenal. Overall, this book was stellar and an easy read.” –Amoon, NetGalley reviewer

“I absolutely loved stepping back in time to my younger years. The cultural references were spot-on as was the description of the political atmosphere of the time. It’s now twenty-six years later and the book made me feel as if it were yesterday.” — Shawna, educator and NetGalley reviewer

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It took me right back to 1989. The characters and setting were spot on for the time. The conflicts in the book ranged from typical teenage angst to dealing with death. The characters were very believable. I think this book would make an excellent choice in literature circles. It should spark lively classroom discussions.” — Judy, educator and NetGalley reviewer

“This book is about decisions both personal and grand scale. The story is told against a backdrop of a social studies class that explores the complexities and decisions made when interacting with other countries. Yet it is complexities of personal decisions that drive the story. Seth and Quinn are both 12th grade students in the process of making difficult choices. Seth’s mother has MS and they only have each other to depend on. Should he go to college or stay home to take care of her? Quinn is from a wealthy family. Should she date a boy that makes her parents happy or date Seth because he makes her feel good about being herself? Controversial decisions including teen sex, abortion and suicide are part of the story. This author is an excellent storyteller.” — Loretta, librarian and NetGalley reviewer

“Katie Pierson opens a time capsule from the 1980’s for her readers that is filled with all things adolescent: independence, angst, personal identity, death, love and sexuality. Quinn, a driven, popular and successful student finds her world turned upside down when she receives a note from and awkward, brooding, whip smart classmate, Seth. Added to the mix are socio-economic and world issues of the Eighties, making for a thought-provoking, steamy novel that you can’t put down until you read the last page.” —Nissa, educator

“This. This is a satisfying teen romance novel, set entirely in 1989 but… This is a starting place for teens to ask questions about those world, their parents, their politics. This is a starting place for teens to ask questions about abortion, apartheid, states rights, gun control, welfare, aids, foreign policy. Forget teens, this is a starting place for adults to think, notice, ask, question, begin to find ways to make a difference. And did I mention how it’s also a satisfying teen romance? All of the politics and issues didn’t pull me out of the story, they kept pulling me back into 1989. I hope kids who read this go ask questions about how the world got from 1989 to 2015.” –Lissa, librarian and Goodreads reviewer

I really enjoyed it. It reminds me of Eleanor and Park. I don’t usually like romances, but this one I thoroughly enjoyed. I can completely understand your decision to set it in 1989, because it was a very important year. (even though I wasn’t alive back then )” — Esme, age 13

“Adorable story! My high school students will love this witty and realistic read. The details and references to events and products from the 80s made it a fun read. I particularly enjoyed the challenges to the social and political world that the characters engaged in; asking the reader to stretch their thinking and take more than just a teen love story from the experience.” — Amie, librarian and NetGalley reviewer

“’89 Walls is set at the intersection of periods of uncertainty: the end of the Cold War and the transition from “childhood” to self-identity. In 1989, two high school seniors in Lincoln, NE challenge each others’ views about politics, privilege, and parents. ’89 Walls explores the messiness between the binaries by which our world is often ordered — a parent dependent on the child; a capitalist democracy supporting military dictatorships and apartheid; the interplay between emotion and reason in making an argument or supporting an opinion; the tension between defending one’s individual rights/decisions and judging others’ expressions of their rights/decisions.” — Andrea Foroughi, Ph.D., Director, Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies Program, Union College, New York

“Let me start by saying that I did not expect to love this book nearly as much as I did. I assumed that setting it in 1989 would make for a boring setting, but I was wrong! Being an older YA reader, I experienced 1989 but had no idea how politically and socially relevant it truly was to today’s youth. What an excellent and unique time period to set a YA novel. There was nothing boring about the small tidbits of political and social factoids weaved into the story and as I experienced 1989 within the context of the setting of 89 Walls, it was “Wow!!” Teen and twenty something YA readers will get such an insightful perspective into today’s social and political issues by learning about many of today’s issues’ roots. But, beyond all the glory of the setting, the story was terrific! The characters and their personal stories gave the reader depth and connection. From Seth’s very realistic problems he encounters as he singlehandedly takes care of his sick mother to Quinn’s everyday real ‘teen’ issues, the characters and their chemistry is perfection. I strongly encourage YA fans to pick up and devour this delightful gem. I loved its sweetness, relevance and realistic narrative told from alienating points of view. You will not regret taking a chance on this book!” —Cheryl, educator and NetGalley reviewer

Where Eleanor and Park fails this one succeeds; I want to see more well-written, thought-provoking work like ’89 Walls in the YA genre.” — Malcolm, NetGalley reviewer

So important. Don’t miss out on this unexpected gem” — Jess, NetGalley reviewer

89 Walls is an excellent book, capturing the transitional period in America, between the tail end of the Reagan 80’s and the pre-Clinton 90’s.  A wonderful story of love in the last days of high school, with characters realistically awakening into the larger world they are getting ready to step into.  The story is emotional and warmly familiar.  The book also catches the political mindset of the late 80’s perfectly, in both the strident Left desperate to become relevant again and a comfortable Right who unapologetically supported Reagan, but were far more moderate than they’re remembered as today.  I highly recommend this novel.” — Matthew McNeil, radio host of AM 950’s “The Morning Grind”

“I am in love with this story. So refreshing! Can’t wait to share with friends!” — Summer, NetGalley reviewer

I LOVED this book! I think it is amazing coming of age story that is believable and relate-able at any age.” — Christin, librarian and NetGalley reviewer

And something I REALLY appreciated was that it was the most nuanced portrayal of Republicans by a pro-Democrat piece in a long time. I got a very strong feeling that the narrative leans Democrat along with Seth, Mr. Levine (the history teacher), and eventually Quinn herself, but I was really impressed by how Quinn’s parents were written. Quinn clashes with her father often, as she tries her hand at verbal parrying with someone who clearly has the advantage of an adult perspective. All we hear of Republicans these days – well, all I hear, anyway, but then again, my social circle slants quite liberal/Democrat – is how backwards they are, how racist/sexist/etc. they are, etc. etc. I’m not arguing that there aren’t Republicans who are conservative in the extreme, but I am saying that that’s kind of all I hear about. So it was really, really fascinating when, in regard to Roe v. Wade, Quinn’s father turns to her and says, “You know I’m pro-choice, right? Your mom and I both are.” He clarifies that they’re both staunchly Republican in the sense that they believe that less government involvement is better, and that that includes being pro-choice. What a thing to say! What a thing for me to read! I don’t think I’ve ever in my life heard anyone say that, especially not public figures in mainstream media.” –Thu, YA blogger

“This book is incredible!!!!! The political talk had me pumped up and Seth and Quinn are adorable politicians. Had me crying near the end with the *murmers quietly* , but so worth it.” — Julia, NetGalley reviewer

One of my new favorite books!! I loved the setting, and growing up in the 80’s, I find this book appealing to many generations. I was a little concerned about the political backdrop being too distracting, but I think it was very well done and would (hopefully) prompt conversations on political topics and thinking in general. The characters were written very believably and, although Quinn’s dad was painted to be the “bad guy”, I found his character to be very sincere and likable. The relationship between Seth and Quinn was well written and well-paced. I liked the perspective of how life was before social media…it seemed so much more simple and logical. Instead of texting or posting or tweeting, the teens did a lot of thinking and writing and talking to each other. The relationship between Seth and his mother was very touching. Her suicide was predictable but emotional and pivotal to the story. All in all, I can’t wait to recommend this to some of my teen readers. As an 8th grade teacher, some of the topics and sexual situations are too mature for younger readers. I’m looking forward to rereading this book and any others by Katie Pierson.” — Shannon, educator and NetGalley reviewer

“[T]the characters are so damn vivid. Seth is, of course, my favorite. He basically vibrates he’s so real. How are you able to get inside a smart teenage boy’s brain like that? I’m convinced you were a teenage boy in a former life. It just rings so true…What I also really loved about this was how much you respect your young adult reader. That respect is obvious. You take it for granted that they care about the world, that they are pained when they clash with their parents.” –Ashley Shelby, author of Red River Rising: the Anatomy of a Flood and the Survival of an American City and freelance editor

“As a child of the 1980’s, I loved the this tale of love and acceptance set during the greatest pop culture decade of all time. The references were spot on and the characters flawed and loveable. Readers of all generations will enjoy this story.” — Heatherly, educator and NetGalley reviewer

’89 Walls is a refreshing take on the classic class conflict romance story. Seth and Quinn come from drastically different backgrounds. Seth lives with his liberal mom – a single mother suffering from MS – who he takes care of. Quinn lives a privileged life with both of her wealthy conservative parents and doesn’t really want for anything. Despite their differences, they find common ground and a wonderfully sweet romance blossoms between them. I really enjoyed the characters in this book, I felt that I really connected with them, and I loved that they were well-rounded and we got to see their flaws and their virtues. I loved the references to pop culture from the era but I skimmed over the political parts as I have never been able to pay attention to politics. I think that the sex scenes in the book would be too much to handle for younger teens, so would probably only give it out to more mature kids.” —Meghann, librarian and NetGalley reviewer

“I loved this book from the start! The way the author blended politics and love was really interesting, but it worked flawlessly. I would say my favorite character was Quinn, even though I don’t approve some of her decision I felt we had some similarities. The one thing I noticed was that her relationship with her dad feels like mine. He and I can usually have civil political conversation but sometimes we fight about it. a Another character I really enjoyed was Quinn’s mom, she is such a loving and caring mom and usually I don’t read that in these kinds of books. Seth was another great character he was just the right amount of snarky and sweet. I loved picturing his political t-shirts I always got a laugh out of them. Overall the book is a perfect read for anyone.” –Riley, high school student

“Loved this story….two characters, Seth and Quinn, find themselves on opposite sides politically in a social studies class and in life. Issues that they learn about and deal with could be part of life today even though the book is set in 1989. The author does a fantastic job of presenting different viewpoints through rich characters. The characters learn about themselves and what they feel is important that is impacting the world around them.” — Chrystine, Educator

“A true flashback to the late 80s, I loved the story and how the main characters did not leave perfect lives but had real problems that happen to real people. Made me pause to think about the things I did and remembered from that year. The timeline at the end was a very nice touch!” –Susan, Librarian

“I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s set in the US during 1989, and American politics feature prominently. Quinn is a senior from an upper middle class family, while Seth is the son of a single mom with MS barely getting by on welfare. Their relationship plays out against the backdrop of the final days of the Cold War and the destruction of the Berlin Wall. Both teens are highly educated in the current political situation – much more so than I was in 1989 as a young adult. They struggle to define themselves separately from their parents, who hold strong political opinions. The book covers many of the hot button topics from the “80s and early ’90s, and includes a handy glossary at the back to bring today’s teens up to speed. Part political science primer, part romance, with a dash of honest and touching teen sex tossed in for fun, this book was a pleasant surprise.” — Anna, Librarian

“To read the synopsis on Netgalley or Goodreads, one would think that the main attraction of the novel is their “passionate romance.” It is important, and it is passionate, but I found their individual character arcs far more interesting. Usually when a story is framed to be about a relationship, it’s about the trials and tribulations of that relationship. I felt like the story was more about the trials and tribulations Quinn and Seth faced separately, which sometimes affected their relationship, but also did not. In this sense, it didn’t feel like such an angst-filled teen drama, but a very real, very human exploration of growing up.” — Crina, college student and blogger