Varian Johnson

Varian Johnson is the author of nine novels, including The Parker Inheritance, which received four starred reviews and was named a 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book, a Junior Library Guild selection and a Spring 2018 Kids’ Indie Next List pick among other accolades. His middle grade caper novel, The Great Greene Heist, has been named to over twenty-five state reading and best-of lists. In addition, Varian has written numerous novels and short stories for YA audiences. He was born in Florence, South Carolina, and attended the University of Oklahoma, where he received a BS in Civil Engineering. He later received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he now serves as a member of the faculty. Varian lives outside of Austin, TX with his family.


Books by Varian Johnson

The Parker Inheritance

2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book (Fiction and Poetry)

“Powerful…. Johnson writes about the long shadows of the past with such ambition that any reader with a taste for mystery will appreciate the puzzle Candice and Brandon must solve.” — The New York Times Book Review

“Johnson’s narrative revels in its puzzle-story elements.” — Horn Book, starred review

“A must-purchase.” — School Library Journal, starred review

“A compelling mystery and a powerful commentary on identity, passing, and sacrifice.”  — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

Reading Level: Middle Grade

The Great Greene Heist

“The elaborate bait and switch of this fast-paced, funny caper novel will surprise its readers as much as the victims. They’ll want to reread immediately so they can admire the setup.”— Kirkus, Starred Review

In his first novel for middle-grade readers, Johnson cleverly integrates familiar issues like cafeteria food, gossip and first crushes with dashes of politics and race. His cast of characters is refreshingly diverse, both in ethnicity…and skill set…It’s a thrilling ride that may con reluctant readers into settling down on the couch with books like The Great Greene Heist instead of the remote control.” — Brianna Albanese, The New York Times

Pay attention! This terrific story speeds ahead on every page, but the lively characters will make you care enough to keep up. Do yourself a favor and start reading immediately.” — REBECCA STEAD, Newbery-winning author of When You Reach Me and Liar & Spy

Reading Level: Middle Grade

To Catch a Cheat

“A satisfying stand-alone sequel; new readers and old friends will be hoping for further adventures.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred

“This sequel is even better than the first book…. Those who enjoy realistic fiction with action, mystery, and humor will have a hard time putting this novel down.” – School Library Journal

An “adventure that surprises, delights and expands the possibilities of the caper mystery.” — The Washington Post

Reading Level: Middle Grade

Saving Maddie

“[A] sincere story…the questions Josh weighs about morality, God, and desire feel wholly genuine.” — Publishers Weekly

Reading Level: Young Adult

My Life as a Rhombus

“Without a bit of preaching, Varian Johnson gives us a story of two teenage girls who are faced with the consequences of unplanned pregnancies. Teens will love the emotional peaks and valleys of the tale and be gratified by the conclusion.” – Ellen Wittlinger, author of Hard Love “

…there’s wry humor here, and the sometimes raw dialogue is well done.” – Booklist “

[Johnson] has captured the struggles of teen girls perfectly…” – TeensReadToo, Five Star Review, Gold Award for Excellence

Reading Level: Young Adult

Red Polka Dot In A World Full of Plaid

Essence Bestseller (March, 2006)

“An enjoyable coming-of-age story of headstrong, sarcastic and vulnerable Maxine Phillips…I would recommend this book to the teen and young adult readers.” – APOOO Bookclub

Reading Level: Young Adult