Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Guest post by Megan Abbott, author of THE FEVER + Giveaway

Last week, I was being interviewed by a very smart journalist who kept querying me about why I’ve devoted my last three books, including The Fever, to the world of teenage girls. It’s a question I’m asked a lot so the answer comes easily for me.

The answer is this:

As permissive and youth-driven as we’ve become as a society, many of us are still pretty uncomfortable with looking at some of the darker feelings of adolescent girls—desire, aggression, jealousy, rage. They just don’t suit our ideas of girlhood. There’s this tremendous schism between what we want to think about girls, our daughters, and how girls really are
(or how some of us were when we were girls, which maybe we conveniently forget) . And this is ripe terrain to write about because there’s still not legions of “adult” novels that deal with the desires, the ambitions, the anger, the hunger of teenage girls.

But as I began offering up this response to the reporter, something else kept coming into my mind. Maybe it was his persistence. “But why do you want to write about it? Do you wish you were a teenage girl again?” I blurted the answer, “No!” Which is true. Absolutely true. So much of what I write about is how hard it is to be a teenage girl, and how it’s harder now than ever. You feel like all eyes are on you. There’s s much pressure to be a certain way, all while you’re striving to figure out who you are, trying to separate who you think you should be from you who want to be. And now, with social media, that feeling of being on display is virtually round the clock. Who would want that?

And yet, there was something else at root in my reflexive answer. It had been knocking around in my head for days, since I heard a This American Life episode in which Molly Ringwald—my generation’s teen girl icon—discussed watching The Breakfast Club with her ten-year-old daughter. It’s a wonderful and painful segment, filled with revelation. And it reminded me of watching that movie with my parents when I was thirteen or so. At one particularly emotional point, the black-garbed outsider Allison (Ally Sheedy) declares, “When you grow up, your heart dies.”

I think my dad rolled his eyes at that line, and I don’t blame him. But I also loved it. And I still love it. Not because Allison’s right (we all know she’s not), but because the line is SO dead-on true-to-being-a-teenager, and maybe especially (but not exclusively) teenage girls. That feeling that adulthood is about loss and compromises (which, in part, it is) and that you’ll never feel as intensely as you do now. The latter isn’t true either, of course, but isn’t it true that you never again feel things so unmitigatingly, so uncomplicatedly, so simply, so purely? At that age, all your nerves are exposed. You feel everything (even when—especially when—you adopt a pose of cool indifference). And it’s an utterly unobstructed feeling because hard-won lessons haven’t yet dulled or muddled that intensity of experience. We learn to build barricades as we grow older, sure. We learn to protect ourselves. We also see, over and over, how complicated life is, and awareness of those complications serves as a buffer. We’re able to say, when wounded, “That person doesn’t really think I’m ugly/stupid/bad. He has his own problems and he’s taking them out on me.” We’re able to say, after a breakup, “It won’t always hurt like this.” These are the gifts of adulthood.

In the movie, when Ally Sheedy’s character says her line about one’s heart dying, Judd Nelson’s character responds, too quickly and too coolly (he’s all posture), “Who cares?” And Ally Sheedy, tears filling her heavily madeup eyes, whispers, “I care.”

And it’s beautiful. And when I see that, all I want is a movie or, better yet, a novel just about her (And with no “makeover” at the end). Teenage girls are diverse, and varied, and rich, and filled with light and dark. They feel things and those feelings are interesting and valid and filled with layers and meaning. They deserve novels about them. Lots of them. And I want to read them—both to think about being a teenage girl, both then and now, and to reflect on my own experience. Isn’t that one of the reasons why we read? To understand someone else’s experience and, in so doing, our own?


Thank you, Megan!

THE FEVER by Megan Abbott

The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.



The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town's fragile idea of security.

Follow Megan Abbott

Buy a copy of THE FEVER

GIVEAWAY

Between Megan's guest post and the book overview, I can't wait to read THE FEVER! I also happen to have a copy I can giveaway to one US resident

Let me know in the comment selection what your favorite YA book or movie is (make sure to leave your email address). If you want to earn an extra entry, let me know you follow us on our facebook page A Novel Review (please put in a separate comment) and make sure to 'like' this post on our facebook page. You can also tweet about the giveaway (with a link) to earn another entry! 

Winner will be given 48 hours to respond to my email. I will pick a winner on July 23! 



26 comments:

  1. My favorite YA book is The Hunger Games!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

    ReplyDelete
  2. I follow A Novel Review on Facebook (Sheila Korman), and I liked & shared this post there!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

    ReplyDelete
  3. Tweet: https://twitter.com/skkorman/status/486919127500476416

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

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  4. I've really been looking forward to The Fever, thanks for the chance to win a copy. My favorite YA recently is The Fault in Our Stars, both the book and the movie. Thanks again. carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

    ReplyDelete
  5. I also follow on Facebook: Carl Scott

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  6. I tweeted a link to this post: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/487277944574717952

    ReplyDelete
  7. I pinned the cover on Pinterest too, I know it wasn't required but I'm an overachiever: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/336573772125113042/

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  8. I follow you on both A Novel Review facebook pages and I liked this post on both. I also shared it on my facebook page.

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  9. My favorite YA books/movies are the Hunger Games trilogy, but the YA book and movie that affected me most was The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

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  10. I also pinned on Pinterest for extra credit(?) : http://www.pinterest.com/pin/80994493273483666/

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  11. Just one favorite YA?! Hm, this year I loved Kathleen Hale's NO ONE ELSE CAN HAVE YOU. It was smart and snarky and really dark!

    (moecatj [at] msn [dot] com)

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  12. Hunger Games & Divergent are definitely my top YA movies.

    tropicalsunlover05 (at) yahoo (dot) com

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  13. Tweeted :)

    https://twitter.com/Lisamarie5825/status/489171276733243392

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  14. I love The Perks of Being a Wallflower...the book was absolutely wonderful. I read it years ago when it first came out.

    SuzyQ4PR(at)aol(dot)com

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  15. I also follow on FB

    SuzyQ4PR(at)aol(dot)com

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  16. My current favorite YA title is TFiOS (dug the movie version as well), though just today I started reading the Grisha trilogy so that could change.

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  17. I like both of the A Novel Review pages on Facebook .....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And liked the post regarding the giveaway!

      Delete
  18. I tweeted about the giveaway: https://twitter.com/kate_ivan/status/491835043845648384

    ReplyDelete
  19. Replies
    1. Oops, my email address is bjoneill@hotmail.com

      Delete
  20. I follow the Facebook page

    Bjoneill@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  21. My favorite YA book is Impossible by Nancy Werlin

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  22. Thanks everyone! Congratulations to Kate Ivan for winning!

    ReplyDelete

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The books we review on this site (A NOVEL REVIEW) are sent to us by publishers, authors or downloaded from Netgalley. This is a very common practice. We never take payments for these reviews and all the reviews on this site are our own thoughts and feelings and are not influenced.