Discovering Young Adult Books,
a Guest Post by Bridie Blake
I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember. Hours of my childhood were spent with a book in hand, devouring stories like The Babysitters Club and The Magic Faraway Tree series. I couldn’t get enough. I wanted to be reading all the time. And when I wasn’t reading I wrote my own stories and plays. I was obsessed with the written word.
Reading went to a new level for me when I was introduced to YA books. My older sister was reading Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta and one night she wanted to read it aloud. This was back in the day when I shared a room with my three sisters so even if I hadn’t wanted to listen I had nowhere else to go, and looking back now I’m glad I didn’t. I was in primary school at the time, and felt very grownup reading from a book aimed at teenagers. I was hooked from the first word and from that point it was all about YA for me.
One of the key relationships in A Distant Voice is between sisters, Violet and Rose. There are scenes where I had Violet read aloud to Rose while they’re just hanging out in their room and I really wanted to include those as a small tribute to my sister. I doubt she even remembers reading Looking For Alibrandi to me, but it’s one of those moments from my childhood that stuck. And Melina Marchetta is now one of my favourite authors.
Having two older sisters it was easy for me to get my hands on YA books and I quickly devoured them. I fell in love with stories like Just As Long As We’re Together by Judy Blume, You Take The High Road by Mary K. Pershall and Tomorrow, When The War Began by John Marsden.
Reading YA was a different experience. It was the first time I truly felt drawn to the characters and worlds on the pages. I not only wanted to read these stories, I wanted to belong to them.
They took me through every emotion possible. I laughed out loud, and sobbed until I had no tears left. I was on the edge of my seat, anxious to find out what happened next, but also wanting to savour every word.
I thought I’d move on from YA books when I reached adulthood, but I didn’t. In fact, I think my obsession only increased. Especially when I discovered a new genre of YA. Fantasy. I read every book in Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series, I waited eagerly for each book in Callie Kanno’s The Threshold Trilogy, and am dying with anticipation for the next book in Morgan Rhodes‘ Falling Kingdoms series.
It’s safe to say that not only is YA never disappearing from my reading list, but it’ll forever be on my writing list too. I love writing the genre. I love trying to create a story that will hopefully have the same impact on someone out there that other YA books had on me.My name is Bridie Blake, I’m thirty-two years old and I love YA.
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A Distant Voice
Contemporary Young Adult
In life you don’t find your voice. It finds you.
Violet Hayes knows how to survive the year living with her grandmother in the small town of Wandorah, Tennessee.
• Make Rose happy
• Don’t sing or play guitar
• Avoid Sally Shaw
• Ignore Carter Jenkins
It seems simple enough, right? Wrong.
• How do you keep a depressed sister happy?
• How do you deny yourself your dream?
• How do you avoid a friendship?
• And how do you ignore a boy when he’s everywhere you turn?
Violet’s to-do list just became a whole lot harder.
14+ due to adult situations
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He smiled and reached out to pull the guitar toward him. He strummed his fingers over the strings and played a few chords before glancing over at me proudly.
He offered me the guitar. “Your turn.”
“And what makes you think I can play?”
I snorted out a laugh and clapped my hand over my mouth in horror.
“Play away,” he said, ignoring my snort, and pushed the guitar into my hands.
I stared down at it with my mouth hanging open. The way my heart raced you’d think he’d pulled the pin on a grenade and handed it to me. Relax Violet. It’s an instrument. It can’t hurt you. Unless I tripped over it and broke my neck. And that could happen. Probably not entirely realistic while I’m holding it, but if I dropped it and then got up and tripped, it … oh dear god, what is wrong with me?
His mom called out his name and he gave me an apologetic shrug. “I’ll be right back.”
He left the room and I remained where I was, the guitar still burning my hands. It had been months since I’d played. Months since I’d felt that wave of joy I got whenever my fingers ran over the strings.
A yearning, so strong it sent butterflies fluttering in my stomach, washed over me and my fingers moved. They ran over the strings, playing whatever came to mind. I closed my eyes and let myself be swallowed up by it all. I allowed myself to forget and be something else. Someone else.
I didn’t know how long I stayed like that but a shuffle behind me forced me back to reality. I opened my eyes and twisted around. Carter stood in the doorway, a look of wonder on his face and it made me squirm. I dropped my hands, rested the guitar on his bed, and scrambled to my feet. “I should go.”
He moved toward me slowly, as though scared a sudden movement would startle me. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” I mumbled and folded my arms across my chest, tucking my hands into my armpits where they’d be safe and wouldn’t stray towards anymore strings.
His brow creased and I saw him trying to work out what had happened but I didn’t want to talk about it. I tried to duck out of his room before he asked me anything. He gripped my arm, stopping my quick exit. “It’s okay,” he said. “You’re allowed to enjoy things. You’re not betraying your sister by having fun or doing the things you want to do.” His voice, filled with sincerity and kindness, caused a lump to take up residence in my throat.
His hand ran along my arm and towards my hidden hand. He tugged on it until he freed it and he squeezed my fingers gently. I shook my head because he’s right, but he’s wrong at the same time. It was guilt over Rose that stopped me doing things but when it came to music, there was so much more to it.
Music destroyed Gran’s life. It ruined Mom’s childhood. I couldn’t love something like that because if I did, I’d open myself up to the same hurt. And I’m not anywhere near as strong as Gran. It would destroy me. It would be my trigger.
I wanted to tell him that. I wanted him to understand. But the words wouldn’t come out of me.
Bridie lives, daydreams and writes in Melbourne, Australia. She’s happiest at her computer, coffee in hand, Tim Tams on standby and her furry companion Poppy at her feet. When not writing she’s usually found with a book in her hand or playing with her tribe of nieces and nephews.
Discover more about her at www.bridieblake.com, https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBridieBlake or @BridieBlake on Twitter!
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