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Writer in Residence

Joan's Book Recommendations

Our Writer-in-Residence wants to share some book suggestions with you.

Visit Joan’s Book Suggestions Page to see ideas for all age groups.


Milton Public Library

Herb Voigt Writer-in-Residence


Writer-in-Residence, Joan F. Smith’s new book ‘The Half-Orphan’s Handbook‘ is now available

by Joan F. Smith
Available April 20, 2021 from Imprint/Macmillan

For fans of John Green and Emily X.R. Pan, The Half-Orphan’s Handbook is a coming-of-age story and an empathetic, authentic exploration of grief with a sharp sense of humor and a big heart.

It’s been three months since Lila lost her father to suicide. Since then, she’s learned to protect herself from pain by following two unbreakable rules:

1. The only people who can truly hurt you are the ones you love. Therefore, love no one.
2. Stay away from liars. Liars are the worst.

But when Lila’s mother sends her to a summer-long grief camp, it’s suddenly harder for Lila to follow these rules. Potential new friends and an unexpected crush threaten to drag her back into life for the first time since her dad’s death.

On top of everything, there’s more about what happened that Lila doesn’t know, and facing the truth about her family will be the hardest part of learning how a broken heart can love again.

The Trustees of the Milton Public Library Announce Joan F. Smith as the Inaugural Writer-in-Residence

The Milton Public Library is happy to welcome Joan F. Smith as the first Herb Voigt Writer-in-Residence. Joan will be joining the Library beginning in March and providing programs and events throughout the year.

Joan F. Smith is a novelist, essayist, and dance instructor from Milton. Her writing uses humor to explore the themes of unanswerable questions and the intersection between truth and lies. Joan does her best writing on airplanes, and her worst with no caffeine. She studied creative writing and social science at Providence College and received her MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. When she isn’t writing, Joan teaches dance, travels, exercises, works in higher ed, mentors writers, and wrangles her kids. She is the author of the young adult novel The Half-Orphan’s Handbook, coming from Macmillan/Imprint in 2021. Her writing has appeared in various publications such as The Washington Post and Thought Catalog. She lives in the Milton with her husband and kids, where her daily requirement as a parent includes dance parties in the kitchen. You can find more about her at, and follow her on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @jf_smit.

Please check back here for a full list of Joan’s programs and updates on her writing.


About the Herb Voigt Writer-in-Residence Program

The Milton Public Library Writer-in-Residence is an aspiring or published writer, residing in Milton, MA who furthers the library’s fundamental mission through the creation of an original piece of work and sharing their expertise through developing and offering library programming.

The Milton Writer-in-Residence Selection Committee selects a Milton Public Library Writer-in-Residence for a one-year term.

The Writer-in-Residence will participate in the following activities:

  1. Endeavor to complete an original piece of work while in residence that will be presented to library patrons
  2. Provide up to 4-6 public programs for the Milton Public Library (either in person, or remotely)
  3. Be available to provide guidance to other aspiring writers
  4. Participate in activities of the Library
  5. Receive a $6,000 stipend broken into 4 equal payments
  6. Report to the Milton Library Director


Herb Voigt was a member of the Library Board of Trustees from 2012 until his passing in 2018. Herb was a committed Library supporter, both as a Trustee and a member of the Milton Library Foundation. In addition to Herb’s distinguished scientific and academic career, he was a lover and supporter of the arts. This Writer in Residence program celebrates Herb’s commitment to libraries and to the arts.