Susan Shapiro

Susan Shapiro, an award-winning writer & professor, freelances for the NY Times, NY Magazine, WSJ, Washington Post, L.A. Times, Elle, Oprah, Wired & New Yorker online. She's the bestselling author/coauthor of 15 books her family hates like Five Men Who Broke My Heart, Lighting Up, Unhooked, The Bosnia List, The writing guide The Byline Bible and her new memoir The Forgiveness Tour. She lives with her scriptwriter husband in Greenwich Village where she’s taught her popular "instant gratification takes too long" courses at The New School, NYU, Columbia University and in private classes & seminars - now online. Follow her on Twitter at @susanshapironet, Instagram at @Profsue123 or email

School Library Journal starred review of World In Between
Book List starred review of World In Between
Publishers Weekly Starred Review of Forgiveness Tour
“Genius Literary Matchmaker” 2020 profile of Sue
Business Insider ❤️s The Byline Bible & Sue’s Zoom class
Winner of 2019 ASJA Book Award
Winner of 2018 Best Book Award for Writing & Publishing

Follow Sue on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell's, Books-A-Million

world in between cover World In Between
a middle grade novel
by Kenan Trebincevic and Susan Shapiro

Book List - Starred Review
Library Journal - Starred Review
Kirkus Reviews
Read with Val Q & A with Kenan & Sue
Brooklyn Rail: powerful, unforgettable
Bulletin of Center for Children’s Books: effective, relatable, poignant
Kenan on The Big Show syndicated radio

Chronicling his memories of a childhood marked by war and instabilities, Trebinčević’s fictionalized account of his youth is, in some ways, that of any young teen. He (Kenan, in the narrative) loves fudbal (soccer) and wants to show off his best moves to his friends. He enjoys drawing, is teased for his buckteeth, puts up with the class bully, and is sweet on a certain girl. But soon his homeland is ripped apart by war. Trapped for months with his family in their home within a battle zone, losing their possessions and community status because they are Muslim, Kenan and his family are finally able to escape to relatives in Austria before enduring the process of coming to America. Their refugee experience has ups and downs and is slow-going as they strive to build a new life. Sharing a time and experience that has little exposure for most younger readers, Kenan’s emotions and actions bring to life the common threads of growing up and discovering new favorite things. A photo of Trebinčević as a youth and his afterword add context to this balanced, fictionalized memoir. Highly recommended for its emotional and historical perspectives, this is an insightful starting point for understanding one family's refugee experience, as well as the complexities of the Bosnian War.
Beth Rosania
Starred Review - Booklist

In this moving autobiographical novel, author Trebincevic recalls his family’s harrowing emigration from Yugoslavia’s Bosnia province to the United States when he was 11 years old. A typical tween, Kenan loves playing fudbol (soccer), hanging out with best friend Vik, and impressing pretty classmate Lena. Political unrest in neighboring provinces quickly spreads to Kenan’s peaceful hometown, bringing war to the streets and turning friends into deadly enemies. Kenan, his older brother, and their parents flee with nothing but what fits in their suitcases. For the next two years, Kenan and his family endure a grueling, dangerous relocation through several countries, ending in the United States, specifically Connecticut. At each step Kenan and his family are met with alternating cruelty and kindness, making it difficult for the new immigrants to know whom to trust as they adjust to their new life. Trebincevic provides backstory to help readers understand the political forces that tore his home country apart, balancing that information with his own youthful bewilderment and anger, with which readers will readily empathize. The details of the family’s multiple near-death experiences are gripping, although the novel’s pace drags a bit midway through. The author’s note provides fascinating details about the book’s evolution and Kenan’s collaboration with his coauthor. VERDICT An essential purchase for all middle grade collections, as well as school curricula on contemporary world history and immigration.
Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY
Starred Review - Library Journal

One day he’s playing soccer with his friends, and the next, they’re treating him like an outsider. His teacher, Mr. Miran, threatens to shoot him in the street. Why? Because Kenan is Muslim. And so begins his story of survival. Escaping Bosnia with his family, after passing through checkpoints with the constant fear of being thrown into internment camps, they land in Vienna as refugees, stripped of all their belongings. Once financially and socially thriving, now they survive on the generosity of strangers, shepherded from home to home. Just as Kenan is adapting to Vienna, learning German and memorizing the trolley routes, his family is brought to small-town Connecticut. While his parents begin minimum-wage jobs, Kenan starts school and learns to deal with language barriers and bullying, all the while keeping up with the progression of the war in Bosnia. The question of whether they can ever return home never once leaves his mind. Based on true events in Trebinčević’s life, this account reflects aspects of the stories of millions of refugees fleeing war. At times, the level of detail feels excessive and the story too drawn out, but this title shows how, despite cultural and geographic differences, people everywhere are sometimes drawn to malice but more often to generosity and good. Shows how, for refugees, the struggle for survival doesn’t end when you leave home.
Kirkus Reviews
...moving, gripping, fascinating...VERDICT An essential purchase for all middle grade collections, as well as school curricula on contemporary world history and immigration.
School Library Journal

Kenan is eleven in 1992, when growing Serb nationalism in Yugoslavia makes him and his Muslim family the enemy. His normal life of good scholarship, good soccer, and minimal popularity abruptly turns into one of persecution as the Serbs enact oppressive restrictions on Muslims, commandeer their homes, relocate many to murderous camps, and yet refuse to let Kenan’s family leave the country. Finally, in 1993 he, his older brother, and his parents manage to escape to Vienna, where a kind Austrian family finds a place for them to stay, but their real goal is the U.S. Later that year they’re accepted into the U.S. as refugees under a Connecticut church’s sponsorship, and Kenan struggles to adjust to a new country and several new living quarters and two new schools in succession, all the time hoping desperately, futilely, for a return to his Bosnian home and the life that was destroyed. Classified by the author as autobiographical fiction, the book reads like memoir, shaped by real-life plot rhythms rather than a traditional novelistic trajectory but still rendered accessible to younger readers. Young Kenan’s love of soccer, the one unchallengeable competency he brings to his new country, is an effective and relatable throughline, and readers will also sympathize with his culture shock both at a rich Connecticut school and a tougher one. Most poignant is Kenan’s difficulty in believing that friends and even his beloved teacher (who, as a paramilitary, attempts to shoot Kenan) have transformed into enemies, and there’s an ongoing theme of both good and evil (or at least good and corruption) appearing in unexpected places. While young readers may not be familiar with the events, the immediacy of Kenan’s narration will allow other transplanted children to relate and kids with more fortunate lives to contemplate the thin line between safety and tragedy. An author’s note explains a little more about his process and work with his co-author.
Bulletin for the Center of Children’s books

Copyright 2004-2020 Susan Shapiro. All Rights Reserved.
Fix-Up Fanatic cover art by Mary Lynn Blasutta