What I Read: April 2019
I heard the voice of every single one of these authors as I read their books.
Okay, not literally. But I spend a significant amount of time listening to these four voices. Linda Holmes is the host of one of my favorite podcasts: Pop Culture Happy Hour, a podcast I listened to long before I decided I was “into podcasts.” Her debut novel Evvie Drake Starts Over is dreamy and wonderful and exactly what I want all my rom coms and romance novels to be like. There’s sexual tension at this novel’s very core, but it’s also a book about grieving, friendship, and what it feels like to never leave home. I remember when Linda (look at me, using her first name) mentioned wanting to finish writing her book that year. I remember thinking “I wonder what that’s all about.” I knew she was talented and driven, but this novel showed me just how much. I didn’t want it to end — and when it did, I wanted to start reading it again immediately.
I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of the novel (as a blogger for Quirk Books, I sometimes get to do that) but you can preorder it anywhere books are sold. And make sure to tell your local library to stock a copy or two! Evvie Drake Starts Over is out June 25.
I was lucky enough to meet Sarah Enni at her University Bookstore event about a month ago. But I feel like I first met Sarah in 2014 when I started listening to First Draft Podcast, a show centered on young adult authors and their processes. I’m a writing process nerd at my core. I loved being a part of a writers group because it meant I got to listen to everyone else talk about their process. And I love listening to First Draft for the very same reason. I didn’t know what to expect going into Tell Me Everything, especially because I knew the concept had been shopped to Sarah rather than the more traditional opposite approach. I was a little hesitant. I knew that she’d been trying to sell her first novel when the idea for Tell Me Everything came along. I knew that it wasn’t a natural next step for her. But what writing process is?
I devoured this book. Sarah created an entire world in the Stars Hollow-esque Santa Cruz-ish small town. She created an entire app that feels grounded and believable and completely like something I would use on my own phone. And she created a narrative that’s simultaneously warm and funny, while still being devastating and heartbreaking in a completely teenage way. I cannot wait to read what Sarah comes out with next.
Just under a year ago, I met Danya Kukafka and felt instantly like we’d known each other our whole lives. And to be honest — and I’ve said this to her face — I was nervous to read her novel because I didn’t want to look like a dummy when I talked to her about it. In that time, Danya’s read two of my plays and heard me talk ad nauseam about life and writing and why we find our local writing spot so comforting and frustrating at the same time. (The parking! You never know if your coffee order will be right! But everyone’s so damn nice! And there are books!) A few weeks ago, after she knew I’d let my own digital copy of Girl in Snow sit idly on my Kindle, Danya put her book in my hands, as if to say “Get over yourself.” Her handwritten message was much sillier. On the title page, she’d written “I hope you like it.”
And I did! I loved this book so much. I’m going to loan it to my mom. I’m going to recommend it any time someone’s looking for a character study about tragedy — or an honest portrayal of how grief and jealousy manifest in incredible ways.
I’m not going to talk too much about my wonderful new friend Kim Fu and her novel The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, mainly because I haven’t finished reading it yet. I started it over the weekend and, much like every time I picked up Danya’s book, I mutter the phrase “This is Kim’s book” under my breath. I don’t do it intentionally, but in the moment after that phrase crosses my brainwaves, I feel so much gratitude. I love that these women trust me with their lives, that they feel comfortable sitting with me as we all work, and that it’s writing like this that comes of it.
Looking at the pile of library books sitting on my windowsill, I don’t know if I’ll be this conscious about the author for a long while. These are books written by strangers, propelled into my home because I read too many round ups, I get too invested in conceptual memoirs, and I really want to know what this lost Sylvia Plath short story might teach me. But for now, I’m surrounded by friends.