Miranda Beverly-Whittemore was born in Los Angeles, California in 1976. The daughter of a writer and an anthropologist, she grew up in Senegal, Vermont, and Oregon. In 1998, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar College. She has published two novels, The Effects of Light and Set Me Free, and writes full time from her home in Brooklyn.
Miranda's second novel, Set Me Free, was published by Warner Books in March 2007. Set Me Free is about the life of a school, love lost, love found, long-hidden secrets, being the father of a daughter (and the daughter of a father), straddling two cultures, the foibles of liberal ideals, the aftershocks of radical activism, and how a group of strangers becomes a family. Set mainly at Ponderosa Academy, a school for Native American kids in the Oregon high desert, Set Me Free is told from the points of view of four people, all intimately attached to Elliot Barrow, the founder and headmaster of the academy: our narrator, Cal, Elliot's best friend and bitterest rival; Amelia, Elliot's sixteen-year-old daughter; Helen, Elliot's ex-wife; and a newcomer named Willa, who is at the center of Elliot's biggest secret of all. The novel takes its title from the last three words of Shakespeare's The Tempest, which haunts the book's structure, characters, and themes. Throughout, Set Me Free is narrated by the acerbic Cal, a Native American man with secrets, and fears, of his own. Publisher's Weekly has noted that Set Me Free's "allusions to Shakespeare and shifts in time and perspective make for an intriguing read." The French translation rights for Set Me Free have recently been sold.
Miranda's first novel, The Effects of Light, was published by Warner Books in February 2005. Called an "ambitious first novel" by the New York Times, it tells the story of sisters Myla and Pru Wolfe, who participate in a series of fine-arts photographs taken by a friend of their family. In some of the photographs, the girls appear nude, which is not a concern for their art-history professor father. But when the photographs are shown on a national scale, a firestorm of cultural controversy erupts, with devastating results. Writing for Booklist, Kaite Mediatore remarked that "[p]assionate writing, skillful plotting, and intriguing characters make this a necessary purchase. An excellent selection for a book discussion group." The Effects of Light has been translated into German, Dutch, Italian, Polish, French and Swedish.