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One Book, One San Diego Announces 2019 Titles

Focus on the AIDS Epidemic, Overcoming Obstacles & Family

One Book, One San Diego announced the selections for the 2019 region-wide read: "The Great Believers" by Rebecca Makkai was chosen for adult readers, "The Crossover" by Kwame Alexander for young adults, "Dreamers" by Yuyi Morales for children, and "Éramos unos niños" by Patti Smith for readers of Spanish. Each year, One Book, One San Diego features one book for adults, one for young adults, one for kids and one for Spanish language readers. This year, the program received more than 400 nominations and selected a stellar lineup of award-winning titles.

"The Great Believers" is a novel about the terrors and tragedies of the AIDS epidemic and its repercussions, told through a story of friendship and redemption in the face of tragedy and loss, and set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris. It won the Stonewall Book Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. It has also been optioned by Amy Poehler for television.

"'The Great Believers' is about communities of several kinds — one being the city as entity, as home, as safety net. That a city has chosen it to read, to discuss it, and to start conversations about San Diego's unique AIDS history (as opposed to the stories we hear about New York or San Francisco, or the story I've told about Chicago) is profoundly gratifying. I'm honored and indebted, and can't wait to be there,” said Makkai.


On September 19, One Book, One San Diego will host a free event featuring a keynote by Makkai at the Balboa Theatre. The event will include a performance by the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus and an address by Terry Cunningham, who dedicated 30 years to combating the AIDS epidemic in San Diego.

"The Crossover" by Kwame Alexander, winner of the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Honor Award, is a coming-of-age novel written in a mix of free verse and hip hop poetry. It tells the story of two basketball playing brothers and their family and is aimed at getting reluctant readers reading. Alexander will visit San Diego to speak to students at Wilson Middle School on October 23.

This year’s winner of the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award, "Dreamers" by Yuyi Morales, is the picture book selection. Morales, Caldecott Honor artist and now six-time Pura Belpré winner, uses lyrical text and rich, detailed illustrations to tell her own migration story. On Saturday, December 7, Morales will give a kid-friendly presentation at the new San Ysidro Library.

"Eramos unos ninos," the Spanish edition of "Just Kids" by Patti Smith, was selected as a Spanish-language companion to "The Great Believers" as it explores some of the same themes. It will be read and discussed by readers from Oceanside to Ensenada and from the coast to the Imperial Valley.

More than 100 free discussions, film screenings, lectures and workshops around the 2019 selections will be held at public libraries and other partner locations throughout the fall. Find details at


About One Book, One San Diego: Launched in 2007, the program encourages everyone in the San Diego and the Northern Baja region to read and discuss the same book. One Book is selected for four categories of readers: adults, teens, kids and Spanish speakers. It is a partnership, led by KPBS, with the San Diego Public Library, the San Diego County Library, San Diego State University and more than 25 others. The program is funded by the Linden Root Dickinson Foundation, the City of San Diego, the Dr. Seuss Fund at the San Diego Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, Lloyd Pest Control, the Seth Sprague Educational and Charitable Foundation, and the Payne Family Foundation.