Book stack
September 26, 2019

Faculty pen new books

Kate McQuade and Lani Silversides each released a new book in 2019
by Allyson Irish

In her collection of short stories Tell Me Who We Were, English instructor Kate McQuade explores themes of womanhood, mythology, and trauma through the lives of six girls who met in boarding school. McQuade is no stranger to trauma literature—she became interested in the genre in graduate school and teaches the course Rememories: Trauma and Survival in Contemporary Literature at PA.

For those who think that issues of trauma—genocide, war, suicide, and the like—may be too difficult for teens to handle, McQuade says it’s quite the opposite.

“I think the reason that my students tend to be at least as good at analyzing this literature as adults I know—if not better—is because they are living in this world where truth is sort of under attack,” she says. “Storytelling now is more aware of itself as a story is being told. And all of these books that I teach are about that. They are about the ways that trauma is something that the mind doesn't register in the first place. And so it poses this really interesting problem for writers, because how you tell a story that you don't fully understand is always at stake in these books.”

Kate McQuade (Photo by Chris Conti)

McQuade spent nearly eight years writing the book, completing it during her spring 2018 sabbatical. Though this latest book begins at a boarding school, McQuade said the stories have little to do with Andover or Abbot, although her experience managing a dormitory of 14-year-olds in Nathan Hale provided rich fodder. “I had a first-hand lens into this world to see the intensity of friendships at that age—and the amplification of friendships at boarding school.”

Lani Silversides’ new book, A Strong Girls’ Guide to Being, provides easy-to-use mental prompts and written exercises to help elementary-and-middle-school-age girls develop positive, self-confident attitudes.

The book is the latest endeavor by Silversides, a math instructor, to highlight the positive impact of strong mental and physical health for girls.

Silversides had previously self-published My Strong is Beautiful, a book that focused on the positive aspects of physical activity for girls. That philosophy was at the core of her Strong Girls afterschool program, which launched in 2015. Strong Girls is now a nationwide nonprofit called SG United Foundation and includes eight programs at three different sites, including Hamilton College in New York, which was started by Katie Kreider ’14.

Silversides not only promotes the benefits of a positive attitude; she is proof that it can make a difference. Shortly after finishing her latest book while on sabbatical in Australia, she found a lump on her breast and was subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer.

Lani Silversides (submitted)

Before her diagnosis was confirmed, Silversides told her husband, “If this turns out to be cancer, it will be okay because we have the tools to handle this.” And she did. Throughout the months of treatment and chemo, she focused on the positive and wrote about her experiences in a blog called, what else, “The Silver Side.”

Now back on campus and teaching, Silversides has ramped up her focus on the program and is hoping to increase the number of Strong Girls locations by the end of the school year.

Categories: Academics, Magazine

Other Stories

On view

Shows from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta to travel to Andover

Denise Simon ’94
Absence. Change. Renewal. 

Three alumni photographers put their focus back on Andover