Award-winning author Wendelin Van Draanen’s latest book, set in 1947 in a fictionalized Riverbank, Oakdale and Modesto, will debut in May at the Riverbank Historical Museum.
Members of the Historical Society provided local background for the author, so she’s coming to town to launch her latest effort, The Peach Rebellion (Knopf/Random House), here where the tale is set.
The question of the plot is, can a girl who’s spent most of her life migrating from one shantytown to another, and a privileged banker’s daughter ever see eye to eye? The quandary Peggy Simmons, a peach farmer’s daughter who is a friend to both, wrestles with in the tale, crafted by Van Draanen.
She’s written more than 30 novels, including Flipped, which became a Warner Brothers film directed by Rob Reiner, and chose to launch her new novel at the Riverbank Historical Museum to spotlight the museum’s importance and thank the docents there who helped during the early stages of her research.
“Judie (Hardie) and Paulette (Roberson) were so patient and knowledgeable — it really helped get me off on the right foot,” Van Draanen explained.
“The Peach Rebellion showcases a slice of history when women who’d stepped into non-traditional roles during World War II were expected to revert to their former, more subservient lives after the war ended,” she pointed out. “It’s a story of sisterhood, breaking rules and blossoming courage, suitable for readers twelve years old and up.”
Van Draanen is no stranger to the Central Valley, since her mother-in-law, Rosalyn (Moore) Parsons attended Oakdale High, her father-in-law, Ed Parsons, hailed from Escalon, and her husband, Mark Huntley Parsons, also an author, was born in Modesto.
Van Draanen is a lifelong California resident who taught high school in Santa Maria, a town with a large migrant worker population.
“With The Peach Rebellion, I wanted to create a compelling story that would have the reader walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,” she stated. “My hope for this book is that it will bridge divides.”
Van Draanen invites residents to come help celebrate the city’s Centennial and meet her at the Riverbank Historical Museum, 3237 Santa Fe St., in downtown, on Tuesday, May 17, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Books will be offered for sale onsite, with proceeds to benefit the Riverbank Historical Society.