Zibby Oneal (nee Elizabeth Bisgard) was born on March 17, 1934 in Omaha, Nebraska. She came from a nuclear upper middle class family; she has an older sister, her father was a doctor and an amateur painter, and her mother a homemaker and an avid book reader. Oneal always loved books and wanted to be a writer even before she could read. She attended Catholic girls' schools in Omaha, attended Stanford as an English major from 1952 to 1955, then finished her degree at the University of Michigan and earned a B.A. in 1970. Oneal has been writing since she was very young, and she wrote her first children's book, entitled War Work, in 1971. But she received wide recognition in 1980 after writing The Language of Goldfish. This was her first young adult novel and the book she considers the favorite of all her published works. The Language of Goldfish received rave reviews and won the American Library Association's Best Book for Young Adults in 1980 and one of School Library Journal's Best Books of the Year citations. Oneal went on to write two more young adult novels as well as two nonfiction books for young adults and four books for children. All three of her young adult novels are realistic portraits of young women dealing with the problems and complexities of adolescence. Oneal is married to a doctor, has a grown son and daughter, and lives in Ann Arbor where she lectures in the Department of English at the University of Michigan.