Nonfiction Book Award Status: Silver
Of the 918 Americans who died in the shocking murder-suicides of November 18, 1978 in the tiny South American country of Guyana, a third were under eighteen. More than half were in their twenties or younger. The powerful stories told in And Then They Were Gone: Teenagers of Peoples Temple from High School to Jonestown begin in San Francisco at the small school where Reverend Jim Jones enrolled the teens of his Peoples Temple church in 1976. Within a year, most of these kids had been sent to join Jones and his other congregants in what Jones promised was a tropical paradise based on egalitarian values, but which turned out to be a deadly prison camp. Set against the turbulent backdrop of the late 1970s, And Then They Were Gone draws from interviews, books, and articles—many of these stories are told here for the first time.
Judy’s poetry has been published widely and has won many awards, most recently a first prize, two thirds, and the Grand Prize in the Ina Coolbrith Circle Poetry Contest. Her work is also included in many anthologies, among them The Widows’ Handbook (foreword by Ruth Bader Ginsberg) and River of Earth and Sky. Walking Across the Pacific is her first poetry chapbook. And Then They Were Gone: Teenagers of Peoples Temple from High School to Jonestown, non-fiction, is about the students from Peoples Temple she and co-author Ron Cabral came to know before most of them were sent to Jonestown. Ron and Judy were recently named Library Laureates 2019 by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.