Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! Somehow it’s August, which makes me feel like the summer is going by way too quickly, even though I’d really like for it not to be five thousand degrees outside. (Somehow Bodo still wants to go on like hour-long walks; I bring water for us but COME ON, BUDDY.) Let’s get a cool drink and check out a few book reviews in fifteen words or fewer:

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Touching story and beautifully written. Great supporting characters, and an extremely worthwhile author’s note.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Ending felt slightly rushed, but I love Lara Jean and her sisters so much.

Mental Health, Hogwarts Houses, The Correct Pronunciation of Gif, and Other Strong Opinions

Obviously I’m a big fan of podcasting, so when the lovely people at Candlewick Press reached out to me about their podcast, Candlewick Press Presents, I was beyond excited. I had a fantastic conversation with the Candlewick team about writing, my time as a Candlewick intern, why I love social media, why I’m jealous of how good Walt is at titles, and more. (This didn’t even include the pre-recording conversation about which Candlewick team members would be in which Hogwarts houses, a topic we all take very seriously.)

You can hear my interview on iTunes and Stitcher, and make sure to check out the previous episodes, as well. They include interviews of amazing writers and illustrators like Aaron Becker, creator of gorgeous wordless picture books like Journey, and Lesléa Newman, author of the classic Heather Has Two Mommies. Can you hear my fangirling?

Thanks to the Candlewick team for including me in such a great project. Can’t wait to hear the rest of Candlewick Press Presents, season 1!

Friday Fifteen and Giveaway Winners

Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway for The Chance You Won’t Return this week! I liked hosting the giveaway so much, I ended up choosing two winners. They are:

Andrea T. and Julie R.!

Andrea and Julie, keep an eye out for my email so I can get your shipping info for your prizes. And everyone, thank you so much for entering. I’ll definitely do another giveaway soon, so keep checking in for your chance to win.

In the meantime, here’s a look at what I’ve been reading and writing in fifteen words or fewer:

Reading: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Felt more human and better crafted than Gone Girl; not a favorite, but intriguing.

Writing: They are my constant, from here to the end of the universe.
First draft of my WIP is done! Full steam ahead into the revisions!

Tunnel Tour and Author Panel – Friday, July 17!

Tunnel TourOne of my favorite parts of being an debut author was getting to know other authors who have had books published in the last few years or have books coming out soon. So I’m way psyched to get together with a bunch of other debut authors as part of Susan Adrian’s Tunnel Tour. Get ready for a great conversation about books and publishing and writing and inspiration and more! The details:

Tunnel Tour, YA Author Panel and Signing
Friday, July 17 at 7pm
Porter Square Books
25 White Street, Cambridge, MA 02140

I can say with great confidence that every panel member is an awesome person and wildly talented author, so make sure to come out and say hi!

Upcoming Event: YA Panel at Porter Square Books on July 17th!

Summer might seem like a long time away, especially for those of us in the Boston area who are still surviving the coldest/snowiest winter ever. Fortunately, I’m looking forward to a July 17, when I’ll be on a YA panel with several other 2014/2015 debut authors! The details:

Young Adult Author Panel Discussion
Friday, July 17th, 7pm
Porter Square Books
Porter Square Shopping Center, 25 White Street, Cambridge, MA 02140

Join YA authors Susan Adrian, Jen Brooks, Annie Cardi, MarcyKate Connolly, Trisha Leaver, Rachel Shane for a panel discussion, moderated by YA author Mackenzie Lee, as they talk about reading, writing, and the debut experience.

Porter Square Books is where I had the launch party for The Chance You Won’t Return and I’m so excited to be back there with a bunch of other lovely debut authors. Mark your calendars!

Serial, Crimes, and Teenage Life

Like most of the podcast-listening world, I’ve been obsessed with Serial for the past couple of months. The case of Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee is tragic and upsetting and confusing, and a real look into the unfairness of the criminal justice system. For me, it was never about finding out if Adnan really committed murder or not–it was about taking a hard look at one, particular case and the very real people involved.

One of the first things that struck me–this was a case about teenagers. As a YA writer, this raised the stakes for me. Hae was killed when she was in high school, and even though Adnan, Jay, and others involved in the case are now older, they were still teens when the events surrounding Hae’s death occurred.

So often when Serial would go into interviews or stories about Adnan and Hae and others, I would think “These are teenagers.” Teens can walk the line between being good, respectful kids in their religious homes and still have a secret boyfriend or girlfriend and smoke up with their friends. They hear all sorts of rumors and invest very deeply in their relationships and friendships and their social circles are very complicated. They can be friends with people and still find them sketchy. They make mistakes and don’t always think through their decisions. These years are already fraught with drama. Add in something like murder, and the intensity skyrockets.

I don’t pretend to know if Adnan is innocent or guilty, or what calls were made when, or who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. But I do know that a tragedy occurred for all of these people when they were teenagers, something that permanently changed the course of their lives.

I don’t know what percentage of Serial’s listeners are teens, but I feel like teens would be particularly interested in cases like Adnan’s. This, of course, got me thinking about YA novels I’d recommend for Serial fans. Some wonderful librarians shared the following links to lists of book recs for Serial fans:

Part of Serial that interested me in particular was teenage Adnan’s relationship to his conservative Muslim family, the social structure of his Islamic community in the Maryland area, and potential implicit/explicit racism in the case. These books aren’t necessarily related to crime or mystery, but I’d recommend these YA book lists featuring Muslim teens:

A few other YA books that I’d also recommend for Serial fans:

  • Fault Line by Christa Desir
  • Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
  • And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
  • Monster by Walter Dean Myers
  • Far From You by Tess Sharpe
  • Pointe by Brandy Colbert
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Even though only a couple of these (Monster and Pointe) deal explicitly with the criminal justice system, they all involve a terrible crime, the uncertainties surrounding that crime, and the complexities of both victims and perpetrators. All of these authors do a fantastic job creating very realistic situations of crime and mystery and tragedy and injustice and strength and hope, all surrounding the teen experience. These aren’t easy books to read, but they’re necessary reading.

Any other YA books you’d recommend to fans of Serial?