Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers: The Things She's Seen by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

The Light Years

Artist and designer Chris Rush's first book, The Light Years, is an immersive, colorful, dark and funny memoir about his very unusual childhood and adolescence in the 1960s and '70s.

At just 11 years old, Rush was sent away to boarding school, both because his flamboyant way of dressing was an affront to his father and because his IQ scores on recent tests were "alarming" in the words of his mother, and "inappropriately high" in the words of his sixth-grade teacher. He tried a Catholic boarding school and a very liberal art school, but neither worked out. Rush knew he was different and felt isolated, so shortly after his 13th birthday, he left his home in New Jersey and went to the Southwest, where he moved in with his older sister. Still just a boy, Rush became a part of the counterculture, surrounded by young adults of the "turn on, tune in, drop out" generation. He lived an exciting life of adventure but also one filled with loneliness, disappointment and violence.

In this truth-is-stranger-than-fiction memoir, Rush tells his stunning, remarkable story with warmth and authenticity. Despite his sometimes-horrifying experiences, almost every page is imbued with a wicked wit and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Miraculously, he is able to look back on these wild and dangerous years of his adolescence with humor rather than bitterness in this engrossing memoir. --Suzan L. Jackson, freelance writer and author of Book By Book blog