Each week, an accomplished published author takes over the YEM Twitter account for Thursday’s Twitter Takeover. Each week, the YA author will answer questions, tell stories, and give advice on our social media. This week Amra Sabic-El-Rayess & Laura Sullivan will be taking over our Twitter account. Amra Sabic-El-Rayess & Laura Sullivan are the writers of The Cat I Never Named.
The Cat I Never Named is the stunning memoir of a Muslim teen struggling to survive in the midst of the Bosnian genocide–and the stray cat who protected her family through it all. In 1992, Amra was a teen in Bihac, Bosnia, when her best friend said they couldn’t speak anymore. Her friend didn’t say why, but Amra knew the reason: Amra was Muslim. It was the first sign her world was changing.
Then Muslim refugees from other Bosnian cities started arriving, fleeing Serbian persecution. When the tanks rolled into Bihac, bringing her own city under seige, Amra’s happy life in her peaceful city vanished. But there is light even in the darkest of times. And she discovered it in a stray cat that after a few near miracles seems to save the family. This is the stunning true story of a teen who, even in the brutality of war, never wavered in her determination to obtain an education, maintain friendships, and even find a first love-and the cat who gave comfort, hope, and maybe even served as the family’s guardian spirit.
Amra Sabic-El-Rayess grew up in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina. After surviving ethnic cleansing and more than 1100 days under the Serbs’ military siege, she emigrated to the United States in 1996. By December 1999, she earned a BA in Economics from Brown University. Later, she obtained two Masters degrees and a Doctorate from Columbia University. Currently, she is a professor at Columbia University working on understanding how and why societies fall apart and what role education can play in rebuilding decimated countries. She has published extensively on education-related issues, and has lectured around the world to adult and adolescent audiences. In her students’ feedback, Amra is consistently praised as one of the most inspiring professors they have encountered. She divides her time between Manhattan and Tuxedo Park with her husband and two daughters, ages 11 and 13.
Laura Sullivan is an author and seasoned collaborator of middle grade and young adult novels, including Under the Green Hill (Holt, 2010), Ladies in Waiting (HMH, 2012), and Love by the Morning Star (HMH, 2014). She collaborated with prolific producer and director Adam Shankman on Girl About Town (Atheneum, May, 2016), a Nick and Nora-styled mystery set in 1930s Hollywood, and the sequel. She also worked with YouTube star Joey Graceffa on the bestselling Children of Eden trilogy (Atria/Keywords). Her adult debut, Milady (Berkley) published in July 2019.