June 03

Cover Reveal for The Elephant in the Room by Holly Goldberg Sloan

For a long while before I wrote Counting By 7s I had been drawn to children with learning differences. I was struck by how many of the achieving kids where my sons went to grade school were outsiders. I have thoughts scribbled in many, many notebooks about things I observed in those years. When two of my friends died very suddenly in a car accident leaving behind two children and so much grief, I had the beginning of a narrative. I had just experienced loss of my own. I put it all together and decided to tell a story.

A similar thing happened when I wrote The Elephant in the Room. Almost twenty years ago I was hired to write dialogue for a film about elephants that the Walt Disney Company produced with world renowned wildlife documentary filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert. I watched countless hours of footage of elephants in Africa with them, and found myself amazed by these enormous creatures. I would never forget what I saw.

There were other past influences that I wanted to explore as a writer. I was fortunate to go to high school for a year in Istanbul, Turkey. My father was a Fulbright professor there and I was enrolled in a wonderful school, which had six hundred Turkish students and six foreigners. I have never felt so different, so outside of things, so alone, and in the end because of the generosity of my fellow students, so accepted.

I consider my life to be blessed because of the adult friendships I formed growing up. Teachers, neighbors, chance encounters with people who took an interest in me as a kid. The Elephant in the Room is about those people as well. The final ingredient was Oregon and the Willamette Valley where I spent most of my childhood. That green place, soaked for months in rain, will always hold a piece of my heart.

But in the end, I’m writing about things that swirl around us today. Family separation. Isolation. The importance of friendships. And our connection to the natural world. There is a lot of darkness in our lives today. I’m writing to find hope. I’m writing for my children and their kids and our future.

Holly Goldberg Sloan was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and spent her childhood living in Holland; Istanbul, Turkey; Washington, D.C.; Berkeley, California; and Eugene, Oregon. After graduating from Wellesley College and spending some time as an advertising copywriter, she began writing family feature films, including Angels in the Outfield and Made in America. She is the author of theNew York Times bestsellers Counting by 7s and Short, among other novels.

About the book:

It’s been almost a year since Sila’s mother traveled halfway around the world to Turkey, hoping to secure the immigration paperwork that would allow her to return to her family in the United States.

The long separation is almost impossible for Sila to withstand. But things change when Sila accompanies her father (who is a mechanic) outside their Oregon town to fix a truck. There, behind an enormous stone wall, she meets a grandfatherly man who only months before won the state lottery.  Their new alliance leads to the rescue of a circus elephant named Veda, and then to a friendship with an unusual boy named Mateo, proving that comfort and hope come in the most unlikely of places.

A moving story of family separation and the importance of the connection between animals and humans, this novel has the enormous heart and uplifting humor that readers have come to expect from the beloved author of Counting by 7s.