Welcome to the Book Page for Born on the First of Two, a fantasy novel by Anya Geist, age 14, named editor's choice of the 2020 Stone Soup Annual Book Contest, published on December 1, 2021 by Children’s Art Foundation–Stone Soup Inc.
Press, Interviews, & Events
Key to the City!
After Anya did a reading and presentation at Worcester Bookshop on December 12 in the presence of the mayor and superintendent of public schools, among others, she was awarded the Key to the City for writing and publishing Born on the First of Two. Go Anya! Enjoy some photos taken of the event, below.
Interview with Stone Soup contributor and winner of the Stone Soup Book Contest 2019 Abhi Sukhdial, 13
In this shorter interview, Abhi and Anya talk about all things Born on the First of Two, from her deliberate normalization of "The Land of the Clouds" to her emphasis on character development to what she wants her readers to take away from the novel.
For a longer, more personal look inside Anya's life and her process writing Born on the First of Two, click here.
Review by April Yu, 13
We have lived in this world for so long that we often forget to notice its beauties and terrors. Although a blossoming of flowers on a tree branch or the putrid smoke of factory pollution might be perfectly normal to us, there’s something incredibly special about them in different ways. In Born on the First of Two, Anya Geist crafts a otherworldly society that views the Earth with exactly this unique perspective, for this society lives above the clouds.
The Land of the Clouds is a bustling, ever-moving network of people above the clouds. Although Maya should be just another eleven-year-old living in the Land, there’s always been something amiss in her life. Perhaps it’s because her parents mysteriously disappeared when she was young. While Maya loves the aunt she lives with, she can’t help the tension between them as her curiosity about her real parents grows. When Maya’s history teacher unintentionally drops a clue about Maya’s identity, however, everything changes.
Suddenly, Maya is convinced that she is the one in a prophecy destined to fight a group of evil people named the OCT. And it adds up—on the back of her locket, the ones her parents gave her, is a street name on Earth: 15 Harding Street. In her eyes, this can’t be a coincidence.
Now, Maya must embark on a journey to Earth to discover the importance of the elusive 15 Harding Street. Between “motion sickness” when she time-travels throughout Earth’s history to deadly voices preying on her, Maya is on a race against all odds to figure out who she and her parents really are—if the OCT don’t intercept her first.
Geist’s debut novel is a riveting blend of bildungsroman and familial love, highlighted by the science fiction elements! It was powerful getting to see not only Maya’s self-exploration and development, but how much her aunt and her best friend, Scarlett, loved her as well. Although Maya felt alone and small for much of her journey on Earth, there were two people trying to find her the entire time. Although this is a girl from the Land of the Clouds, I felt like I could resonate with her so deeply in this aspect.
Ah, Geist’s writing was simply delightful! The vivid description, especially of Maya’s time-traveling process, was a spelling series of events that truly allowed me to visualize the scene. It felt like I was there with Maya, seeing the gray, frothy beach and the Tunnel of Time right beside her.
I also loved the idea of people living above the clouds, operating in tight-knit communities and schools similar to ours, but in an entirely different environment. I was, however, hoping for more world-building. It was unclear what the citizens of the Land of the Clouds looked like, what they did every day, et cetera, so it was difficult for me to understand the difference between people on the Land and people on Earth. In turn, when Maya visited Earth and expressed awe in everything, it made me confused about what was so strange to her. The lack of concrete world-building caused a sort of disconnect between the reader and the character at times.
Overall, this was just a mind-blowing novel. Geist is such a promising writer who infuses heart and hope into her characters, no matter how dire their situations may be. Submerge yourself in this classic tale of soul-searching and internal courage—it won’t disappoint!