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Corey Ann Haydu & Fantastic Friendship Books
This week I am excited to welcome to the show Corey Ann Haydu. She is both a Young Adult AND Middle Grade author. Her most recent YA novel The Careful Undressing of Love was released just this past January. And you might know her from her debut middle grade book Rules for Stealing Stars. On today’s show, we chat about snow globes, guilt reading, cheese and – of course! – her latest middle grade novel The Someday Suitcase.
The Someday Suitcase
Tell us about The Someday Suitcase – what is this book about?
One of the aspects of this book that I loved was how it shows that a true, deep best friend can bring a little magic into your life.
Did you have a best friend growing up?
Clover is a very science-minded person.
Do you have a science background?
There is often this mix and a bit of tension between magic & science in the book.
Do you see science and magic as compatible?
I loved all the metaphors in this book – like the snow globe! At one point Clover’s teacher says, “Sometimes you have to turn something over and upside down to really see it.”
How did you pick the snow globe to be a central part of the story?
This is a book about so many things! Friendship, and science, and codependency, and snow, and but maybe ultimately about realizing that a loss can also help reveal a different part of yourself that has been dormant. I don’t want to reveal too much of what form that loss takes for Clover and Danny, but…
Can you talk a bit about how you decided on the ending?
Your Writing Life
You recently moved… I can imagine that a move might be fairly disruptive to writer.
What were the top three things you had to have in place so that you felt like you had a writing space again?
I saw somewhere (maybe Instagram) that you had posted this really inspiring quote from the book BONE by Yrsa Daley-Ward and it says, “If you’re afraid to write it, that’s a good sign. I suppose you know you’re writing the truth when you’re terrified.”
Did any part of writing The Someday Suitcase scare you?
When we first started talking a few months ago, you mentioned how your first school visits were a combination of exhausting and exhilarating.
When you are visiting schools, how do you keep that balance between bringing your full passionate self and also maintaining your energy level?
Your Reading Life
What have you been reading lately that you’ve liked?
How do you decide what to read next?
Corey Ann Haydu‘s website
Other middle grade books we chatted about:
The Girls from Ames: A story of women and a forty-year friendship by Jeffrey Zaslow
Braced by Alyson Gerber
My Life with the Liars by Caela Carter
The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price by Jennifer Maschari
A young adult book we chatted about:
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
Author Leanne Shapton‘s website
Two Fantastic Books About Friendship
In this part of the show, I share with you a few books centered around a theme and discuss three things to love about each book. (Yes – I love the number three! But also – I just need limits!) This week I can’t wait to share with you two books that have been on my mind lately. Both feature girls just venturing into middle school. Both are about what happens when friendships collide over crushes. And both are ultimately about reclaiming a part of yourself that was lost. So, they are – 14 Hollow Road by Jenn Bishop and Bubbles by Abby Cooper.
14 Hollow Road
by Jenn Bishop
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
First up this week is 14 Hollow Road by Jenn Bishop. You might know her from her previous middle grade book, The Distance to Home. This novel is about Maddie. And the night of the sixth-grade dance, a tornado hits parts of her town and destroys her home. And the home of her neighbor and crush, Avery. So – it turns out that a kind couple in the area with rooms to spare lets both families stay in their home for the summer. So – Maddie has to live with her crush. And somehow convince him to like her back instead of that other girl he asked to slow dance with. Here are three things to love about 14 Hollow Road:
- The parts about Hank, her sweet dog who goes missing the night of the tornado. And I won’t reveal what happens there but even though things can’t get resolved exactly happily, how that situation plays out with the collar and with Avery was touching.
- When Maddie gets her period! Oh. My. Gosh. And – oh the aftermath when she wants to go swimming but thinks people will see the pad but she’s not ready for a tampon and then wonders if people will know why she’s not swimming. And then she doesn’t even want to go to the pool party at all! The gals reading will either really laugh in recognition or get a sample of what’s to come. And – I just want to say one thing. Please don’t discourage boys from reading this book just because it of the period thing. Guys need to know what’s up – and really, what better way than a light moment in a story to start to figure things out? Let’s please work to end that stigma.
- Throughout this book there are these small tender moments. I don’t want to say too much but, there’s a scene where one character is feeling devastated and vulnerable and the other character in that situation just holds their hand. And it was a small moment, but exceptionally sweet.
14 Hollow Road is a fabulous realistic fiction novel about friendship and change and resiliency. And – I wish I could remember who it was to give them credit – but I heard another author say that the last page of 14 Hollow Road is perfection. And, oh – were they right!
by Abby Cooper
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
Our second book this week is Bubbles by Abby Cooper! (You might remember her debut novel Sticks & Stones from last year.) This book makes me appreciate the term “speculative fiction” because the premise of this is – what if you could see people’s thoughts above their heads? What insights could you gain? What obligations would that put you under? How accurate is it? And…do you even want to know? Even before reading this book, I was firmly in the camp of “I don’t want to know what people are thinking!” I’ve read those Sookie Stackhouse books – I know the bad is going to outweigh the benefit of knowing people’s thoughts. (By the way – Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire series – not middle grade! Do NOT get those for your 8-12 year old. But you, adult listener – they’re fun. Especially #4 when the witches erase Eric’s memory and he doesn’t realize he’s the bad guy/vampire! Ahhh…. Okay – I digress!)
Anyway – on to Bubbles! This book is about 12 year-old Sophie Mulvaney whose life is in turmoil when her mom loses both her job and her boyfriend within a very short period of time. And then Sophie get assigned a school project to do something that pushes herself to take a risk at a time when she’s not feeling very adventurous. And then – she starts seeing thought bubbles above people’s heads – and everything takes off from there! So, here are three things to love about Abby Cooper’s Bubbles.
- The little nuggets of history and trivia! It’s a small thing, but makes this book clever and unique. And when Sophie starts to feel a little stressed, remembering and connecting her life to historical facts is a way she copes. For example, at one point she says, “I was crankier than Napoleon must have been after the battle of Waterloo, which he lost really bad.” And then, actually earlier – at the beginning of Chapter 7, Sophie is considering whether or not to go see a therapist about her bubble issue.
- The natural portrayal of characters working on their mental health. Sophie’s mother is dealing with some depression after leaving her job as a TV reporter and a tough breakup with a guy who still lives nearby. And that manifests itself in ways that will be familiar to some kids – tiredness and withdrawal from the things she used to love. Sophie and her mom were the Adventurous Girls and now, she would rather stay home. And the solutions to those struggles are not presented as quick or easy, but doable with help. I really think this is a type of book that could help lessen the stigma of mental health issues and a book kids can relate to either because they see themselves or they might recognize things their friends or family are going through.
- How this book helps you realize that even if you could read people’s thoughts, you still don’t know the backstory behind those thoughts. And what’s really motivated people. This book really gives readers a lot to think about in that way. It would be a great book club read.
Bubbles and 14 Hollow Road both brought me back to those middle school days when your relationship with your friends is everything. And how threatening and scary and socially isolated you can feel when a friend seems to be slipping away from you. In Bubbles, Sophie’s friend Kaya seems to be taken over by another girl, Viv. And in 14 Hollow Road Maddie’s feel left out when her best friend Kiersten is spending more time with Gabriella. And then throw an in-common crush into that mix and ugh! It’s awkward and confusing and just one of those rocky experiences you have to figure out. Also – both of these books get that shaving your legs dynamic absolutely right! At least – it resonated with me. When suddenly your friends start shaving and you feel a hairy troll and how it’s just hard to talk to your mom about. I think I snuck my mom’s razor and shaved my legs like a year before she technically allowed me to. (My mom listens to the podcast, so… sorry mom!) These two books would be great options for a mother-daughter book club. My friend, Julie, did that with Abby Cooper’s first book Sticks & Stones and oh I just love that idea!
Alright – that wraps up our show this week. If you have a question or an idea about a topic we should cover, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on Twitter/Instagram at the handle @Books_Between. There’s always lots of great conversations happening there so, please jump in!
Thank you so much for joining me this week. You can find an outline of interviews and a full transcript of all the other parts of our show along with all of our previous episodes at AlltheWonders.com. And, while you are there, please take a listen to Matthew Winner’s latest episode of the All the Wonders podcast (#372) where he chats with Hena Khan – the author of Amina’s Voice.
Thanks again and see you soon! Bye!