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New Review!- History Is All You Left Me

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Teen Advisory Board Member Amanda  Reviews History Is All You Left Me

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

The novel, History Is All You Left Me, centers around Griffin after his ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident. In order to let go of the love that he had, he must revisit the memories of the past. Throughout the story, Griffin recalls the times he had with Theo while navigating through bouts of grief, hurt and mental illness.  

 

 

To say that this book was amazing is an understatement. The character development was spot on with Griffin’s mindset drastically changing from the start to the end. Griffin describes his thoughts so vividly that you could feel the love and hurt that he feels throughout the book.

 

 

 I loved the writing style, which was written in two different ways, past and present. The sections describing the past showed Griffin reminiscing about the times he had with Theo. These chapters had a lighthearted, happy vibe to them and were fun to read. On the flip side, the present chapters added sorrowful feeling to the story but had subtle amounts of hope sprinkled in. Every part of the book was so descriptive, and I never put it down when I started reading it. 

 

 

History Is All You Left Me is an unforgettable book which combines both the past and the present in order to hope for the future. This book deals with topics from anywhere between love and grief, and the manner in which it is executed was perfect. I absolutely loved this book and the characters within, and would definitely recommend anyone who likes to read realistic fiction books.

 

-Review written by Amanda, Age 14

You can find Adam Silvera's other books here

Teen Advisory Board Interviews Alexandra Sirowy for First We Were IV

First We Were Four by Alexandra Sirowy

On March 10th, 2018 I had the chance to speak with author Alexandra Sirowy during the Bloggers <3 Authors event at Books Inc. Santa Clara. Before meeting with her, I had already read all three of her books. Each book has its own unique world and were all amazingly written. I loved all the plots and the character development throughout each book. I definitely recommend her books if you are a fan of mysteries and thrillers. Her books have perfectly incorporated the eerie and haunting tone of this genre, and I couldn’t put any of them down.

Note: The responses below are paraphrased and some parts have been omitted/edited because of spoilers. I apologize for any awkward phrasing or mistakes that may have occurred.

Note #2: Possible Spoilers Ahead! 

Alexandra Sirowy Author Photo

Which world would you live in out of your three books?

That's an interesting question, I hadn't gotten that before. I would say that all my books are special to me in their own way, but I would have to say First We Were Four. The friendship between the four friends was so strong, and I would have liked to be in such a friendship. The feeling of being under the blood moon promising to love your friends for as long as you exist seems magical. Which book would you like to have lived in?

I definitely think First We Were Four had this really cool vibe with the friendship, and I would totally want to join the group. I feel like The Creeping would be another book world I would be interested in joining, because of the interesting backstory.

Which book was your favorite?

I think either First We Were Four or The Creeping. I just loved the character development throughout each of the books. I did like The Telling with Lana’s point of view, although it is a little harder to connect with her because of the way she acts. The way revenge was written in that book was still amazing.

Yeah, I personally think that The Telling is one of the harder books to get into because of Lana’s personality throughout the book, although I did like writing about Josh.

Cool! So which character in any of your books is most like you?

I have gotten that question before writing First We Were Four, but I think now I would say Graham because we have the same personal characteristics and same kind of devotion that Graham shows throughout the book. In addition, Graham has this quality that makes him feel like he is not the hero of his story and that he is second to Harry. I feel like this is quality is something that lots of people have and can connect to. Who would you describe yourself as?

Probably Sam because of his more shy personality type, but I feel like I have some personal connection to Harry for some reason. They seem similar in their personality types, and both are so likable!

Yeah, I definitely feel like Sam and Harry would be best friends if they were both in the Order of IV! Actually, Sam would perfectly fit into the group. I feel like even though Sam and Harry are alike in the fact that they both want to please their friends, I feel like Harry wouldn’t put up with everything that Sam did in The Creeping. I think throughout all the books, Harry is my favorite character. Who’s yours?

I think Harry would also be my favorite character because of how nice and likable he is, but I have a special soft spot for Graham and his amazing personality. So, how did you get the inspiration for your books?

I get my inspiration for my books from traveling to places. For example, I went to places such as the woods of Minnesota, which set the eerie tone for The Creeping. The rocks of Washington were beautiful and inspired me as well. The scenery just looked like some type of mystical place in Europe where you could imagine anything happening. I also write a lot of books that take place in a kind of woodsy environment because I used to live in a house with this big patch of trees. My siblings were quite a bit younger than me, so I kind of babysat them. The woods always freaked me out and I would always call out to them if they ever went in too deep.

I loved reading it though! How did you come up with the ending of First We Were Four?  (I cried at the end)

I write my books like how you read them, and at the start of the book I don’t know the ending. I knew what I wanted to happen at the end, but didn’t know the person or specific details. I was crying when writing the end. My husband actually came into the room and asked why I was crying and I said that I was writing the end of the book. Even though it did break my heart, I knew it had to happen. I just loved all the four friends in the book, and each of them are special to me.

When do think (if they even did) the Order of IV went too far in trying to bring light to Goldilocks’ death?

I don’t think there is a point where they went too far with trying to stand up for their beliefs. Preferably, there would be less violence, but overall they tried to protest a problem. They wanted to show how unfair it was that the police didn’t investigate further and called it a day. I do think it is a good thing that they stood up for what they recognized as wrong and set out to change it. I think only in their personal vendetta’s that they did go wrong. Letting all these outside factors change the Order of IV from Izzie’s vision was when everything truly got twisted.

How did you write the friendship between Graham and Harry?

Harry did join the original three a lot later in the friendship, but I feel like their friendship was accelerated. Graham had only played with Viv and Izzie for his childhood and then Harry came in and was like a brother to him. They could confide in each other the way Viv and Izzie do, and they were a caring figure for each other. Even with something coming between them, they are both respectful to each other and for the other’s happiness. Yes, they may argue like all friends do, but their friendship lasts until the end. I think that there will always be a sense of guilt about what could have gone differently, but their friendship will always be strong. Even if Graham could get what he wanted he wouldn’t do anything that would hurt Harry to get it.

How do you entwine any subtle add-ins, such as the french braid in The Creeping?

I usually don’t add the details until later drafts, and start off first getting my thoughts onto the paper. I love mysteries and thrillers because of those little details and those red herrings. It’s like when you read a book that ends randomly without anything leading up to it and you get irritated at the ending because it’s so unexpected. I love a satisfying ending where everything falls into place and all the clues make sense. You could reread a book and notice something critical you hadn’t seen before, and it’s just a wonderful experience.

What are your plans for the future?

I am working on a few projects kind of similar to the past three books, like what you could describe as “who did this” books. I am also working on a book that is going to still be a thriller, but different from the previous books I’ve written. Those projects will all be YA, but I am looking forward to starting an adult thriller. I also want to expand to a new genre and I think writing a YA fantasy book would be fun.

Cool, thanks for letting me interview you!

Thanks for taking the time to interview me!

Teen Advisory Board Interviews: Justina Ireland for Dread Nation

Dread Nation by Justine Ireland

Our Teen Advisory Board President, Ava, was able to sit down and chat with author Justina Ireland. Justina is the author of the highly anticipated novel, Dread Nation. "At once provocative, terrifying, and darkly subversive, Dread Nation is Justina Ireland's stunning vision of an America both foreign and familiar--a country on the brink, at the explosive crossroads where race, humanity, and survival meet."

Justina Ireland Author Photo

1. Q:How did you go about creating the gutsy character of Jane? What about Katherine?

A: I wanted to show a Black girl living her best life and thriving in the 1800s. But mostly I wanted to create her with the same kind of traits that we usually bestow upon male characters: bravado, grit, and swagger. So I looked at characters like Huck Finn and real life people like Doc Holliday and came up with Jane, this ridiculously larger than life girl who takes no nonsense from anyone.

And Katherine is the opposite of Jane, because she’s the girl we usually see depicted in stories set in the 1800s: dutiful, demure, and polite.  Between the two of them we get a fuller idea of the range of traits girls can and do have.  Girls contain multitudes.

2. Q: What was the teenage Justina like? Did you write much as a teen?

A: I read. A lot. And sometimes went to the mall with my friends. But mostly, I read. And sometimes watched anime.

3. Q:What are Jane and Katherine’s Pottermore houses?

A: Jane is most definitely a Slytherin, because she has no compunctions doing what needs to be done to achieve her endgame.  It just happens that her goals are to ensure Katherine is Gryffindor because she believes very strongly in doing the right thing, but she’s also very calculated in the risks she takes.  Plus, she loves following the rules. So Katherine I would saw is more Gryffinclaw than straight Gryff.

4. Q: As a Chinese person, I was curious about your decision to ban the Chinese from Summerland.

A: Anti-Chinese racism was prevalent and virulent in the late 1800s. In 1882 Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned all immigration to the US from China.  But that was the end of a long and fraught anti-Chinese campaign in the United States.  Part of that campaign involved running Chinese business people from towns, including burning their businesses, which is why so many Chinese settled into cities where it was less dangerous.  A similar thing happened to Blacks in towns as well, and in fact when Oregon was founded as a state it prohibited anyone Black from residing there.

Summerland didn’t end up the way it is organically, but because the people in charge acted upon their racist beliefs.  So there are no Chinese in Summerland, but there once were because Chinese settlers were like anyone else looking for a new way of life in the mid-19th century.  They settled all over.  Likewise there are no Natives in town, for the same reason as the Chinese.  I’m of the mind that if there are no minorities in your areas there’s a reason for that and we should ask ourselves why.

But! You will see more Chinese characters and Native characters in book two when Jane and Katherine head out West.

5. Q: I loved the word play in the title! What was the process for coming up with it?

A: That was all my editor. I am terrible with titles. He wanted something that conveyed the American History aspect of the story and also zombies! And then, Dread Nation was born.

6. Q: I enjoy reading about relationships in which enemies become friends (for example, Elphaba and Glinda from Wicked). Is this how you envisioned Jane and Katherine’s relationship from the beginning, and if not, how did their relationship evolve?

A: I did! There’s a lot of unreasonable girl on girl hate in YA, and I wanted to kind of play off of that by showing how jealousy has nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with how you feel. And so, Jane’s savvy enough to understand that her dislike of Katherine has nothing to do with Katherine and everything to do with her response to her. 

Plus, I’m also of the mind that dire circumstances create the best of friends.

Dread Nation will be available April 3rd. You can pre-order it here. 

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