Testimonials & Reviews

“My first responsibility as a book discussion facilitator is to choose the books that I offer to my groups.  I look for books that are well-written, interesting to read, and that will engender thoughtful discussion on the part of the participants.  I particularly enjoy finding novels that focus on contemporary and important themes.  When I read ‘The Middle Step,’ I felt that Bogard was giving her readers a way into the very timely conversation of race, poverty and family that has become a heightened subject over this past year.” 
Judy LevinFacilitator for 30 Chicago area book clubs

“I read your book and loved it. It was hard to put down. All of the characters became very real to me. It provides a hopeful message in a place where hope is so needed.”

Hon. Jill SchuppMissouri State Senator

“You are picking up a lot of traction from your book.  White privilege is under scrutiny in the United States, and I believe your book will shed some much needed light on the issue in Saint Louis.  

Our lives comprise of a series of events that lead to moments that define us.  As you know, your more than a decade of service at Lift for Life was not by happenstance; it was to validate you as an authentic author.  You taught the students at Lift for Life to find their voice, and for that, your students trust you to tell their story.  Recent events indicate for a Black child to be heard in Saint Louis, he/she must lose his/her life or take another’s life.   Your book provides us with a civil and thought provoking means to spark change in Saint Louis.  Due to the culture of Saint Louis, it takes a white woman of privilege to tell the story of impoverished Black children. Otherwise their voices would only be heard in bloodshed.  Undeniably, you are an authentic voice for the muted voices in Saint Louis!”

Stephanie BlueEnglish Department Chairman, Lift For Life Academy High School 

In The Middle Step, Denise Pattiz Bogard sheds light on a small section of St. Louis that can act as a microcosm for the nation, that place where race and religion and wealth and poverty and educational opportunities or their lack all converge, where what seems real both is and is not, where each border and boundary, real or imagined, is reinforced by rumor and stereotyping and distrust. The Middle Step is not only fast-paced and expertly plotted, but is full of characters we worry about, root for, are frightened for, and come to love.”

Mary TroyMary Troy, Beauties and Cookie Lily

“The forlorn streets of North St. Louis serve as backdrop for this compelling and well-rendered tale of damaged people learning to trust each other and, with luck, escape the bonds of their darkly troubled pasts. With heartbreaking honesty, The Middle Step inhabits the lives of young women whose stories are too often marginalized.  Denise Pattiz Bogard has gifted us with a novel that breaks our hearts even as it reminds us of the power of love and the importance of hope.”

David HaynesA Star in the Face of the Sky and The Full Matilda

We all know that there are racial and economic lines that divide our community. Here’s a novel full of vivid characters–fearful, damaged, foolish, and courageous characters– who are struggling to cross that divide. The Middle Step shines a compassionate light on our divided world.

John DaltonThe Inverted Forest and Heaven Lake

An unflinching, brave and masterly novel, Bogard confronts America’s troubled racial landscape with compassion, veracity, and moments of surprising grace. This is a poignant, deeply felt story, with characters so richly developed, authentic and human they will live with you long after you put The Middle Step down. A powerful and important debut, this is art at its highest calling: political, yet personal, and daring to reach for the universal truths of the human condition, beyond the color divide.

Jaimee Wriston ColbertShark Girls and Climbing the God Tree

“It was so interesting hearing your insights and your experiences with challenged teens. [Our book club] appreciated your wisdom and your advice regarding your work with them.  Our group enjoyed the book as we connected with the teens.  We see so many of the same type of issues arise and we had a lively discussion about each of the characters and how we, as CASA, would have advocated for them.”

Elizabeth SammannAdvocate Manager, CASA Lake County, Illinois

“A splendid look at the effects of racism and social class.”

“It is a masterfully created story that both reflects and speaks to a mind that is looking for meaning and sense within the nonsense and repeated tragedies in this world. It does not have a happy saccharine ending, but it does contain the germ of hope, the basis of true life. I could not put down the book during the last 150 pages. It is very well written and an excellent read. “

Chautauqua Prize EntryJudges & Jury

Ronda Del Boccio, Write on PURPOSE

“Bogard’s excellent writing and storytelling kept me going all the way through the pain, hopelessness, bad choices, and hardships of this inner-city tale.” Full Review  

Katelyn Mae Petrin, Riverfront Times

“Bogard didn’t intend to base her main characters off any specific student … [[but]] that doesn’t mean they’re not, in some sense, real. Bogard’s experience working in St. Louis schools has given her a familiarity with a world that many white St. Louisians never see.” Full Review

Robert A. Cohn, St. Louis Jewish Light

“The unsung heroism of a well-meaning Jewish woman to serve as a caring foster mom for four deeply troubled and disadvantaged teenage girls is told with sensitivity and skill in the “The Middle Step,” the debut novel by Denise Pattiz Bogard.” Full Review