The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy


My first novel, The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, is out now from Knopf!

You have questions? Frequently asked questions, perchance? I have answers.

How can I get a copy of Vigilante Poets?

Order Vigilante Poets at Barnes & Noble or on the A-word or even from Random House itself (does anyone ever do that?).

Be all hipster and local and supportive of indie booksellers; Vigilante Poets is on Indie Bound.

Signed copies are available at Cincinnati’s Joseph-Beth Booksellers! Email or call (513-396-8960) to reserve yours; they can be picked up or shipped.


What’s Vigilante Poets about?

“We have to do something!”  That’s what Luke Weston keeps telling his friends.  Selwyn Academy has been hijacked by For Art’s Sake, a sleazy reality television show, and Luke’s fed up.  Ethan Andrezejczak, Luke’s henchman and best friend, shrugs and nods along.  He doesn’t really mind the show.  It lets him stare at ballerina Maura Heldsman without being creepy.  And he’s fine with his life:  teaching circus tricks to his beloved gerbil Baconnaise, teasing his four-year-old triplet sisters, and hanging out with his friends, Luke and nerdily brilliant Jackson and smart, sharp, neon-garbed Elizabeth.

Nonetheless, he’ll go along with Luke.  He always does.  In the tradition of Ezra Pound, the foursome secretly writes and distributes a long poem to protest the show.  They’re thrilled to have started a budding rebellion.

But the forces behind For Art’s Sake are craftier than they seem.  The web of betrayal stretches farther than Ethan could have ever imagined.  It’s up to him, his friends, and maybe even Baconnaise to save Selwyn.

So is this book any good, or was this just a pity move on Knopf’s part?

Those are not necessarily mutually exclusive options. But since you asked, I am happy to provide some details.

The American Library Association named it to their Best Fiction for Young Adults list!

Per Kirkus, it’s a best book of the year

…and per Bustle, it’s a Top 25 YA Novel of 2014 and a Top 10 Debut YA Novel of 2014.

It’s a VOYA “Perfect Ten” title, meaning that it received a “5” for both popular appeal and quality. (Must resist obvious joke about how I have never, ever received full marks for both popular appeal and quality.)

It’s a Booklist Top 10 Arts Books for Youth selection.

It was named to the TAYSHAS reading list!  And it was given an asterisk, which means not that it took performance-enhancing steroids, but that it’s in the top ten.

It was selected by the American Booksellers Association as an Indies Introduce Debut Authors Spring 2014 pick.

It’s a Junior Library Guild selection.

It’s an Amazon Best of the Month selection and an Amazon Best of 2014 So Far selection. (So many conflicted indie-bookseller feelings.)

It received a starred review from Kirkus! Annotations and emphasis are my own.

Blending Ezra Pound, rhetoric and reality TV [hrm, Kirkus doesn’t use the Oxford comma? Perturbing], this hilarious, subversive debut about a cadre [all my respect, and more, is regained by use of word “cadre”] of friends at an arts high school is a treat from cover to cover.

[…] misfit nerd-dom [that is about the CHARACTERS, not the AUTHOR, okay?!] […] guerilla poetry […] ethical conundrums  […]

A sparkling, timely tour of the complicated intersection where life meets art. [So nice.]

And it received a starred review from Booklist!

[…] Ethan is immensely relatable as the voice of the average (that is, socially awkward) teen [“Write what you know,” they say]. Hattemer writes with a refreshing narrative style, crafting both believable characters and a cohesive, well-plotted story. Romance, while in the air, takes a sideline to friendship [story of my life, sister], which proves to be the book’s heart and soul. Relying on the passion and ideals that drive adolescence, this has a vibrancy and authenticity that will resonate with anyone who has fought for their beliefs.” [Very grateful to this kind reviewer.]

And a starred review from VOYA!

Tricolons, espionage, and embezzlement: what is not to like? [Best review sentence yet!] This brilliantly paced novel is a fresh look at life as an artistic teen […] [A] hilarious story of friendship and poetry.

And a starred review from the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books!

Crackling, witty narration, free roaming between hyperintellectual allusion (including Latinate plays on words) and shout-outs to Candyland and Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, will immediately grip fans of Frank Portman and John Green. Throw in reality TV, a spot of administrative criminality, and some good old-fashioned caper-film break-ins and the mix is pretty near irresistible [why, no, I’m not going to bold “pretty near” (henc henc)]. Characterization is cool and sharp yet sympathetic […]. The tension between cynicism and naïveté, knowledge and innocence in these brainy but still maturing kids is astutely evoked, and readers will be right there alongside them for every protest, misstep, and loss.

And a starred review from Publishers Weekly!

In Hattemer’s smart, provocative, and highly entertaining debut, a group of friends rage against the reality-TV machine that has descended on their prestigious Minnesota arts high school. […] Readers are treated to a sharply funny account of how people can fall short (and come through), and how art can make a difference.

Are there resources for teachers?

Thanks to the wonderful Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, these learning standards and these discussion questions have been compiled.

Does Vigilante Poets exist elsewhere on the Internet?

I have used the “Nuclear Option” on my browser to prohibit my access to this page, but Vigilante Poets is on Goodreads. (Tidbit: this book’s first-ever review was written in Danish.  I think that this is the universe rewarding me for my longstanding love of diacritical marks.  ø!)

Could you possibly delight me with some facts about the ISBN of this book?

I would be delighted to delight you with these facts. The ISBN is 978-0-385-753-784.  978 starts all books, and 0-385 means Random House, but THEN we have 753 (B.C.: year in which Rome was founded; also, I confess, a part of my seventh-grade email address), and THEN we have 784, which is a perfect square. Now it will be so easy for you to memorize this ISBN. You’re welcome.