Local poet and author Chris Baron returns to the Literary Arts Festival to read from his recently launched and already critically acclaimed All of Me (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan 2019), a YA/middle-grade novel-in-verse about Ari Rosensweig, an overweight 7th-grader who loves cryptozoology and role-playing games, but whose body-image issues plague him in his day-to-day life. A native of New York City, Baron moved to the San Francisco area while he was a seventh-grader, from which he took inspiration to create his protagonist. “The book is about weight,” explains Baron in a San Diego Union Tribune interview, “but it is also about the feeling that if you don’t do certain things in a certain way, you will be an outcast…. People want to be themselves, and it isn’t easy to find other people who are like you. It is a coming-of-age story, but he also wrestles with issues of empathy and kindness. He has to deal with bullying. These are messages that are pretty universal.” As Ari confronts the reality of his parent’s marriage falling apart, he also feels himself emotionally and physically changing, learning to embrace the imperfections he finds in himself as well as in his life: “This issue of self-acceptance is one of the core themes. It is something we all struggle with.”
Newbery Medalist Matt de la Peña describes Baron’s All of Me as “Beautifully written, brilliant, and necessary.” National Book Award nominee Joy McCoullough praises All of Me for exploring “the complex layers of what it means to come of age. Baron’s evocative verse beautifully expresses the depth of Ari’s feelings; he will be a lifeline to anyone unsure of how they fit in the world.” All of Me was recently nominated for the Association of Library Service to Children Notable Children’s Books of 2019.
About the Author
Chris Baron’s first book of poetry, Under the Broom Tree, was part of Lantern Tree: Four Books of Poems (CityWorks Press 2012), winner of the San Diego Book Award for best poetry anthology. Baron has published numerous poems and articles in magazines and journals around the country, performed on radio programs, and participated in many readings, lectures, and panels. He has worked with Border Voices, San Diego Writers, Ink, and other community writing groups. Having completed his MFA in Poetry in 1998 at San Diego State University, Baron took permanent residence in San Diego. He is now on staff as an English professor at San Diego City College and directs its Writing Center.