March-April 2022

These Montgomery County authors are tackling challenging topics

They're penned books on racism, trauma, infidelity and more

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During his interviews of athletes, coaches and managers for his new book, Raise a Fist, Take a Knee: Race and the Illusion of Progress in Modern Sports (Little, Brown and Co., November 2021), John Feinstein says it was sobering to hear stories of ongoing instances of discrimination. “We’ve come a long way, as many of the older guys who grew up with Jim Crow pointed out, but we still have miles and miles to travel” with race relations, says Feinstein, whose sources for the book included 1968 Olympic track and field gold medalist Tommie Smith and John Thompson, Georgetown University’s basketball coach from 1972 to 1999. What can fans do? “The first thing we all have to do is acknowledge that race is an issue,” he says, “and not try to pretend that because there’s been progress, it means all the problems are solved.”


U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin of Takoma Park says he wrote Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy (Harper, January 2022) in five months, almost in a trance, working through the night when he couldn’t sleep in the aftermath of his son Tommy’s suicide. It is a raw look at Raskin’s personal loss, his experience inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and his take on the political landscape, having led the ensuing impeachment of President Donald Trump. Raskin says he wrote the memoir as a labor of love for his family, his constituents and the country. “We’ve been beset by a lot of trauma,” Raskin says. “I wanted to believe by recording it and trying to analyze it that we would be able to find a way forward.”


Chevy Chase’s Sarah Pekkanen has again teamed with New York City’s Greer Hendricks to write a psychological thriller—their fourth—to be released in March by St. Martin’s Press. The Golden Couple tells the story of a maverick therapist in Washington, D.C., working in 10 sessions to repair the marriage of a seemingly perfect couple struggling with an incident of infidelity. As with their other three novels, the authors are turning the book into a screenplay, which requires writing in a more visual way, Pekkanen says. “When you’re reading a book, you can really get into a character’s head,” she says. “When you’re watching something, all you can do is see how the character’s emotions appear on their face, and what they say.”


Never heard of Susanna Salter? You are not alone. In 1887, she was the first woman in the world to be elected and serve as mayor, yet her name does not appear in textbooks alongside other iconic, glass-ceiling-breaking feminists, says Karen Greenwald. The Potomac author hopes her children’s book, A Vote for Susanna, The First Woman Mayor (Albert Whitman & Co., October 2021), will bring attention to Salter’s contribution. “There are many women throughout history who have laid the foundation for our lives and the opportunities that we have today, and yet so many of those stories are unknown,” says Greenwald, who also developed classroom materials about the story for all ages.