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Library honors Beatrice Gormley with literary prize

Date: 1/16/2015

WESTFIELD – The Westfield Athenaeum will award its annual Carol Otis Hurst Prize to Beatrice Gormley for her book, “Friends of Liberty.” Gormley will be speaking about her writing process and doing a book signing for attendees on Jan. 24 at the library.

Gormley’s “Friends of Liberty” is a historical fiction that is set in 1773 Boston, when political tensions are on the rise. The story follows a shoemaker’s daughter and her struggle to find courage to fight for freedom, despite having friends on the opposite side.

Youth Services Librarian Pamela Weingart said a committee of four or five people with a range of ages, interests and backgrounds, is responsible for choosing the book each year. The book was unanimously voted the winner of five nominated books, according to Weingart.  

“She was chosen because we felt like her book was the most accessible to children and young people and best portrayed the New England experience,” Weingart said. “Another thing that we’re looking for is that we would like the book to have a wide audience. We want something that would appeal to the most people, and hers was fantastically written and the story line is so believable because it’s historical fiction.”

The Westfield Athenaeum will have copies of “Friends of Liberty” for sale and will accept cash or checks. Gormley will be available to sign copies of the book.

Weingart said that the Athenaeum staff has been looking forward to welcoming Gormley, especially for the children to have a chance to talk to her about writing.

Gormley is a California native who moved to Massachusetts with her husband Richard and their two daughters. In addition to her fiction and historical fiction books, she has written biographies of President Barack Obama, former President George W. Bush, Marie Curie and others. “We are so excited to have her come. The committee is excited to meet her … It will be an exciting time for all ages to come and speak with an author and learn about the writing process,” Weingart said.

The Westfield Athenaeum began the Carol Otis Hurst Prize in 2007 to celebrate the work and life of the children’s author. The prize honors works of fiction or nonfiction for children and young adults that capture the spirit of New England.  Past winners include Henry Cole, Lois Lowry, Gregory Mone and Jane Yolen. 

The 2015 Presentation of the Carol Otis Hurst Prize runs from 2 to 3 p.m. and is required. To do so, visit the Boys’ and Girls’ Library or call 562-6158.