Jennifer Morales’  debut work  named ‘Wisconsin Book of the Year’

University of Wisconsin Press

Meet Me Halfway: Milwaukee Stories by Jennifer Morales has been chosen as the “Wisconsin Book of the Year,” representing the state at the National Book Festival in Washington D.C. on Sat., Sept. 24. The Festival is organized and sponsored annually by the Library of Congress and is held at the Washington Convention Center. Morales, formerly a longtime Milwaukee resident, now lives in Viroqua, Wisconsin.

The honor for Morales was announced by the Wisconsin Center for the Book, which will have a display at the Festival’s Pavilion of States showcasing Wisconsin’s writers, libraries, books festivals, books awards, and literacy initiatives. The “books of the year” from all states will also be showcased in a united display. More than 200,000 book lovers typically attend the festival, noted Mary Lou Santovec, president of the Wisconsin Center for the Book.

“I’m very honored that Meet Me Halfway will be featured at the National Book Festival. Wisconsin has amazing literary talent to share with the rest of the country (and the world!), and I’m thankful to the Wisconsin Center for the Book for showcasing our contributions,” said Morales. A past member of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors and past co-president of the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, she now devotes most of her time to writing and is a board member of the Driftless Writing Center.

Meet Me Halfway: Milwaukee Stories is Morales’s first book. Published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2015, it looks at issues of race and class in Milwaukee through the lens of fiction. Morales’s aim was to use multifaceted characters—white schoolteachers and senior citizens, Latino landlords, black and Puerto Rican teens, political activists, and Vietnam vets—to capture a Rust Belt city’s struggle to establish common ground and a collective vision of the future.

Meet Me Halfway was chosen by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as their 2015 Common Read for all incoming students. The Wisconsin Library Association has also recommended that all attendees read it before attending their 2016 convention, to be held in Milwaukee in October. Morales will be a featured speaker as part of WLA’s “One Book, One Conference” program.