Three mini-reviews for picture books by Barney Saltzberg, Arthur Yorinks (illustrated by David Small), and James Burks (all from Disney-Hyperion)Read More
Check out the events calendar for spring 2018!Read More
FTC disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Summer of Broken Things
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Published April 10, 2018 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
ISBN 1481417649 (ISBN13: 9781481417648)
About the book
Fourteen-year-old Avery Armisted is athletic, rich, and pretty. Sixteen-year-old Kayla Butts is known as “butt-girl” at school. The two girls were friends as little kids, but that’s ancient history now. So it’s a huge surprise when Avery’s father offers to bring Kayla along on a summer trip to Spain. Avery is horrified that her father thinks he can choose her friends—and make her miss soccer camp. Kayla struggles just to imagine leaving the confines of her small town.
But in Spain, the two uncover a secret their families had hidden from both of them their entire lives. Maybe the girls can put aside their differences and work through it together. Or maybe the lies and betrayal will only push them—and their families—farther apart.
It's difficult to delve too deeply into The Summer of Broken Things without revealing too much of the plot. Suffice to say, fans of Margaret Peterson Haddix's thriller-y Shadow Children series may be disappointed at the shift in style. While intrigue abounds, Avery and Kayla's story is very much grounded in the real world. Avery is self-centered, bratty, and annoying. Kayla is the underdog to Avery's alpha, out of place in a foreign country and in the company of the Armisteds and their extravagant habits. Kayla tries to keep the peace, while Avery sulks and manipulates her father.
Predictably, in the way of high school frenemies and long-distance relationships, Avery's friends seem to abandon her. Rather than befriending Kayla and trying to make the best of the situation--which, spending a summer in Madrid, eating delicious food, sight-seeing, and learning Spanish, doesn't sound terrible to me at all--Avery rebels at every opportunity. She guilt-trips Kayla into covering for her when she decides she's not going along with anyone's plan for her summer.
Kayla, meanwhile, normally compliant, almost to the point of servility, at first frays easily under the pressure, especially once a secret that involves both girls comes to light. Saddened and angry at what she perceives to be her family's betrayal, she stops video-calling her elderly friends at the nursing home and won't read her mother's many frantic emails. With growing rebellion, however, Kayla begins to blossom. Though she's embarrassed by how little she knows of Spanish and how terrible her accent is, she makes friends at school and begins to discover more things about herself and her family that she never knew.
Haddix's gift for portraying the emotions of young people keeps this book on track, even as its central characters seem to unravel. A jarring and dramatic climax, while it doesn't quite end happily ever after, forces the girls to face reality, however harsh, and cope with it as best they can. Don't let the brightness of the cover lull you into thinking that The Summer of Broken Things is some fun, romantic summer beach read. While it has its light-hearted moments--cute European exchange students!--the core of this novel is about family, trust, and forgiveness. Expect to shed a tear or two, especially towards the end.
About the author
Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many acclaimed YA and middle grade novels, including the Children of Exile series, The Missing series, the Under Their Skin series, and the Shadow Children series. A graduate of Miami University (of Ohio), she worked for several years as a reporter for the Indianapolis News. She also taught at the Danville (Illinois) Area Community College. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio. Visit her at haddixbooks.com.
Today's Ontario Teen Book Fest post highlights Brandy Colbert! Check out our Q&A and the signed poster giveaway! Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour links leading up to the festival on Saturday, March 3, 2018. See you there!Read More
Hi everyone! Today we're training the spotlight on to one of the authors at this year's Ontario Teen Book Fest, Abdi Nazemian! Read on for more info about the festival, a bit about Abdi's book, The Authentics, plus a Q&A AND a poster giveaway! Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour links leading up to the festival on Saturday, March 3, 2018. It's going to be another stellar event, and we hope to see you there with all the other book lovers.
About Ontario Teen Book Festival
When: Saturday, March 3, 2018, 9 am to 5 pm
Where: Colony High School 3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761
As always, the event is FREE! No ticket is needed.
A FREE lunch will be provided by Panera Bread. (Yes, sandwiches, chips, and drinks! You can bring your lunch too if you want. I try to bring a little snack to share.)
If you're tweeting/sharing the event, please use the hashtag #ontariotbf!
Once Upon A Time Bookstore will be on hand if you want to purchase books. There will also be T-shirts and posters available for purchase as well. Check out their website at http://www.shoponceuponatime.com!
Want to help promote the event? Grab the attending badge or the banner up top and stick it on your various social media channels--you know you wanna!
Blog Tour Schedule
Spotlight on Keynote Speaker Ellen Hopkins - Germ Magazine
Spotlight on Keynote Speaker Josephine Angelini - The Readers Antidote
Spotlight on Jessica Brody - Adventures of a Book Junkie
About Abdi Nazemian
Abdi Nazemian is an Iranian-American author, screenwriter, and producer. Balzer+Bray published his debut young adult novel, The Authentics, on August 8, 2017. His first novel, The Walk-In Closet (Curtis Brown, 2015), won Best Debut at the Lambda Literary Awards. Abdi has also written and been a producer or associate producer on numerous projects, including the Oscar-nominated Call Me By Your Name. You can find out more about him at abdaddy.com and tweet him @abdaddy. Find him @abdaddy also on Instagram. Abdi lives in Los Angeles with his two children and his fiancé.
About The Authentics
The Authentics is a fresh, funny, and insightful novel about culture, love, and family—the kind we are born into and the ones we create.
Daria Esfandyar is Iranian-American and proud of her heritage, unlike some of the “Nose Jobs” in the clique led by her former best friend, Heidi Javadi. Daria and her friends call themselves the Authentics, because they pride themselves on always keeping it real.
But in the course of researching a school project, Daria learns something shocking about her past, which launches her on a journey of self-discovery. It seems everyone is keeping secrets. And it’s getting harder to know who she even is any longer.
With infighting among the Authentics, her mother planning an over-the-top sweet sixteen party, and a romance that should be totally off limits, Daria doesn’t have time for this identity crisis. As everything in her life is spinning out of control—can she figure out how to stay true to herself?
I had the pleasure of meeting Abdi in January 2018 when I moderated a panel called "Writing from the Immigrant Perspective" at Los Angeles Public Library (Studio City Branch). The panel included YA authors Aditi Khorana, Alexandra Monir, Lilliam Rivera, Romina Russell, and Sara Saedi, as well as Abdi. It was so much fun to talk and connect with others about our cultural experiences and perspectives. Everyone in the group had smart, insightful, and often funny things to say! When OTBF was looking for bloggers, I jumped at the chance to ask Abdi even more questions for the blog tour. I hope you, too, find his answers intriguing!
Interview with Abdi Nazemian
RNSL: What was your reading/writing life like when you were a teen?
AN: I was an avid reader as a teen. If you asked me back then what my favorite book was, I probably would’ve said Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. I was obsessed with his wit and use of language. In my later teen years, I discovered James Baldwin, and his writing changed my life, and my way of thinking. One thing I will say about my reading life back then is that I wish I had access to the diverse stories we’re seeing now. I did some writing as a teen, but I don’t think I imagined back then that I could’ve turned writing into my life and career.
RNSL: What's your #1 reason why you write now?
AN: There are so many reasons why I write, but if I had to pick a #1 reason, it’s because I see very few depictions in stories of my experiences as an Iranian-American, and more specifically as a queer Iranian-American. I want to give all young people the chance to see themselves in stories and to build empathy by having access to stories of cultures and experiences that are different than their own.
RNSL: What was the first book that sparked your love of words?
AN: Do comic books count? I was obsessed with Archie Comics as a kid. I read them voraciously, collected them, sent them stories that I naively thought they would publish, made fashion sketches of Veronica in insane outfits. While the imagery was a big part of the appeal, the words in these comic books – their humor and heart – made a big impression on me.
RNSL: Do you listen to music when you write? Why or why not?
AN: Always, always, always. Music is an essential part of the writing experience for me. I usually have a playlist for each project I write. It helps to set a mood. Also, I’m usually writing multiple projects at once, often with breaks on each project as I wait for notes. Associating a certain playlist or artist with each project helps bring me back to the emotion of that piece after I’ve been away from it.
RNSL: If money and reality were no object, what would be your ideal writing spot?
AN: I don’t know that I could pick one ideal writing spot, since part of what inspires me is new environments. I love to write in cities and in crowded places (with headphones on) because seeing the hustle and bustle of people inspires me. So maybe if money and reality were no object, I would have one of those around-the-world plane tickets, and write a chapter at each new stop.
RNSL: What's your favorite OR least favorite part of the writing/publication process?
AN: My favorite part of the writing process is the beginning and the end. I love the process of writing a first draft: discovering the characters and the voice, being surprised as new ideas seemingly come from nowhere. And I love the process of sharing work with readers, the gratification that comes from knowing the work moved someone. Everything in between, the endless work of rewriting and rewriting and rewriting, is my least favorite part, though it's still not without its joyful moments.
RNSL: What are you working on next that you can share a bit about?
AN: My next young adult novel tells the story of a love triangle set against the backdrop of AIDS activism in the late 1980s. It’s very close to my heart, and I can’t wait to keep working on it and to share it with readers. As a screenwriter, I recently wrote an adaptation of a documentary called Out of Iraq that tells the love story between two Iraqi men who meet during the Iraq war, and are separated by the immigration system. I’m also writing two TV projects for different networks right now.
RNSL: Cake or Pie? And why?
AN: Which one comes with ice cream? Because I’ll take that one, eat the ice cream, and give the cake or pie to someone else. But if ice cream isn’t happening, then pie. Unless it’s ice cream cake, obviously.
1 winner gets an Ontario TBF poster signed by all attending authors! Please note, authors can cancel, or be missed in the signing of the poster…though that is all VERY rare! Enter here or use the Rafflecopter widget below.
That's it for today! Come back in a few days when we shine the spotlight on Brandy Colbert, and remember to stop by all the other blog tour stops leading up to the festival. We will definitely see you there.