THE SUMMER I WASN’T ME by Jessica Verdi

image001The Summer I Wasn’t Me
Sourcebooks Fire, April 1, 2014
ISBN 9781402277887

Lexi has a secret…

Ever since her mom found out she was in love with a girl, seventeen year old Lexi’s afraid that what’s left of her family is going to fall apart for good.

You are on the road to truth. Help is on the way

The road signs leading to New Horizons summer camp promise a new life for Lexi- she swears she can change. She can learn to like boys. But denying her feeling is harder than she thinks. And when she falls head over heels for Carolyn, one of her fellow campers, Lexi will have to risk her mother’s approval for the one person who might love her no matter what.

In The Summer I Wasn’t Me, Verdi writes with raw honesty and an open heart, asking the hard questions and exploring emotional depths and difficult truths in her character that no YA author has done before.

Praise for The Summer I Wasn’t Me

“A powerful indictment of reparative therapy- a sweet love story- and an unforgettable main character!.”

– Nancy Garden, author of Annie On my Mind

 

My Review

Owl Rating:

five owls

 

You need to read this book. That could honestly be my entire review.

I finished The Summer I Wasn’t Me in two days. Two because I couldn’t finish it in one because I couldn’t stop crying long enough to read any further. In actuality it only took me a few hours to read the book.

When I was done I gave it to my friend. She was interviewing me for a project on children’s literature and I mentioned it as an example of books, like Speak by Laurie Hale Anderson, that empower teens to act, to speak out, to be the person they want to be, even if others don’t approve. She asked could she borrow it and I gave it to her. She finished it in a few hours, giving me a play-by-play the entire time. Her words, “Oh my goodness, the feelings, it was amazing.”

You see Jessica Verdi has this amazing talent. She’s able to thrust the reader directly into the characters in this way that feels so close up you don’t even realize you’re falling before you’ve fallen and the next thing you know you’re squeezing your childhood stuffed animals for any source of comfort.

You need to read this book.

This book affected me so much. I know my younger self, who was dealing with some of the same things as Lexi, would’ve loved this book. I mean, I’m still dealing with it and having Lexi, no matter how fictional she is, is a godsend.

You will fall deeply in love with these characters. They will become your siblings and you’ll want to protect them from all the bad. Unfortunately you won’t be able to and it will rip you apart but it is so worth it. I often speak of reading as a cathartic experience, this is one of those books that produces that.

There’s a conversation going on now/been going on for years about why we need diversity in children’s literature. We need it because we need more books like The Summer I Wasn’t Me. As Christopher Myers spoke about and as an author I love recently posted about, publishing is a business and as such it pays attention to The Market. If the Market, if the sales don’t show, books like Jessica Verdi’s won’t continue to be published and then where will teens like my younger self be? Alone. When they feel like they can’t talk to anyone else, like no one understands them they won’t even have the characters in the books that helped me get through some rough patches. Not if we don’t show The Market that we, the consumers, want books like The Summer I Wasn’t Me.

So please go out and buy it for your library, gift it to the teens in your life, order it from your indie bookstore, this is a book that will change your life.

Oh, and my interview with the author is definitely worth your time 🙂

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

 

Writing is… Hard.

Writingishard

I love to write.

I love when entire scenes play out in my head. I love when I rush to my room, when I pull over at a gas station to jot down a few words. I love rereading something I’ve written and saying, “damn, this is good!” My entire body is alive, there’s a light inside me that’s bursting out. I can’t be stopped, I’m untouchable.

Then there are the glooms.

The times when I want to do, all I actually do, is curl up in my chair, bag of m&m sprinkled popcorn in hand while I blink at the white page. Those are the times when I fight to keep back the tears, when I walk around my entire campus trying, hoping for anything. I pull out hairs. I binge eat and watching loads of TV. I let the envy sink in.

Those are the worse times. Those are the times when writing is hard.

Not challenging. Challenging is easy to overcome. There’s a problem but I take pride in, have fun finding/reaching/creating the solution. Hard sucks. Hard is stress, a stress factory. Hard means something’s missing. It’s not just that I don’t know/like my character’s name, that I’m “in the middle” and nothing seems to be happening. Hard is a reevaluation. Something is wrong, and I don’t know how to fix it.

Hard is when I don’t want to write. Even more so, hard is when I’ve lost hope in writing, when I’ve let someone take hope from me.

Yet the crazy thing is, the thing that makes me a writer is though I know it’s hard, though I’m in the gloom, though I’m losing hope, I can’t give up. It’s not that I don’t want to. I just know that without writing, the Sun ceases to exist. Yes, I keep living but the world isn’t a world I want to be a part of. Writing provides my fuel…writing is my fuel. It’s what wakes me up at 3am or keeps me up all night. Writing gives me unbeatable  joy because although there are many other things that make me happy, writing is something I create, I do. It’s me seeing, proving to myself how amazing I really am.

Writing is hard but not as hard as waking up one day realizing I’ve let my dreams go, let fear sink in. Writing keeps me afraid, afraid that if I stop, I’ll never start again. Writing drives me.

Writing is hard but it’s also my soul. I’m a writer. A stubborn one, a young one, an upset one but most of all a very happy, deeply proud, always thankful one because without writing my soul would be incomplete.

When you love something as much as I love writing you don’t give up. You cannot. You must not. Giving up is saying, “I’m not worth it, I don’t believe in myself.” What’s hard makes us stronger. Fear is not the enemy, it is the force. One thing’s for sure, if you give up now, you’ll never smell the roses 🙂

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

What Did You Write When You Were a Kid?

hand writing

For me, writing stories has always served a purpose.  When I was little, I was quite obsessed with vampires, and I always hated how the guys would be vampires but the girls were these whiny people who, for some reason, never got to become vampires themselves, even though they wanted to.  So I started writing stories (unfortunately, I’ve lost many/all of them) about girls who were vampires or became vampires.  I never finished any of them though, because I discovered the Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz and the Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer.  Those books, and the ones that followed, kept me satisfied for quite some time because thankfully writers stopped only depending on the guys to save the day and let us, girl, do something.

Then last summer, after a rough first-year in college where I felt I’d lost part of myself, I rediscovered writing as a way to heal.  I wrote my first manuscript in less than two months, and I told myself I was done messing around…time to get published.  Well, I quickly found out if I wanted my book to be good, to be great, I would have to put in a lot more work.  So writing evolved from a distraction to only thing I really want to do.

Now writing is love, pure joy, and happiness but it all started when I was a kid with my angry letters to my parents and much labored over but quickly forgotten stories of girl vampires.

On Sunday, via GalleyCat, I found this wonderful TED talk by author/illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka.  Halfway through watching it, I cried.  When we’re so anxious to be published, to have our work out in the world we can forget about why we started writing, why we write, in the first place.  I love writing, it really is that simple.  My characters, the worlds I create, make me whole.  Writing has never just been an assignment for me.  I wholeheartedly recommend this video, if not to reflect on the things you loved/wanted to do as a child, then simply to have a good laugh.

What did you write, want to do as a child?

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

Repost: Why I Write

As a result of WriteOnCon (I will be blogging about it) next week and my need to finish up some revisions to my MS beforehand, I will be reposting a few of my favorite posts (I will post new posts just not as regularly).  This is a repost of my first blog post on 6/25/12.


I write to tell a story…whether it is the story of a child or a CEO, I believe that everyone has a story that deserves to be told.

I write because it’s fun…writing for me is just like reading it takes me to new places, introduces me to new people, and if it’s especially daring can give me quite a thrill.

I write because without writing I don’t know where I would be…writing keeps me going when times are hard, it has gotten me out of some of my darkest moments.

I write because it’s what I’m good at…sure I’m good at many things but with writing its different, writing lets me know that I am amazingly talented even when I’m am ignored by others.

And lastly…

I write because I’ve done it forever…I’ve been writing forever, when I was little it was my way of communicating to the adult world my thoughts and feelings and now it is the way I best express myself.

So why should I stop now?

Feel free to post why you write below!

Whimsically Yours,
PnC