Karen Day

A Million Miles from Boston – Book Giveaway

I have always been a big reader (stop snort laughing, family) – so much so that I called it modeling behavior by way of rationalization for the times I had my nose in a book I mean, read while my young children crawled over me on the floor in the family room. Now they are both avid readers, so I guess it worked out. I have car books (sometimes downgraded to magazines or if I am really desperate catalogs) an upstairs and downstairs book, books on an e-reader and my iPad, and while I am not really into books on tape, I did see a really cute gadget at the Newton Free Library that is loaded with picture books for young readers and I recently also found a great list of recommendations from our middle school’s librarians – here.

Anyway, having professed my love of Young Adult fiction, and finding so many like minded souls here, means I no longer have to be pretending to just be pre-reading the titles for my children (which I am so totally doing anyway). I get to read YA with abandon. I even got to meet one of my favorite YA authors at Pragmatic Mom’s house when she visited for her daughter’s book group, Karen Day. My mother-daughter book group read No Cream Puffs last year and loved it.

Karen Day is one of those super creative, thoughtful people who really remembers what it is like to be 12 years old and is able to capture those feelings and share them with the insight I wish I possessed at that age – who am I kidding? I wish for it now. I have also had the pleasure of getting to know Karen at the Newton Free Library and she is the kindest person you would ever want to meet.

I loved her new book, A Million Miles from Boston and I really like how she writes so clearly about how she brought the story to life.

From Karen Day’s blog post about the story behind the story:

In my new middle grade novel, A MILLION MILES FROM BOSTON, 12-year-old Lucy can’t wait to leave her home in Boston and travel to Pierson Point, Maine, where she spends summers at her family cottage. This is the place where memories of her mom, who died when Lucy was six, are strong and sacred.

From the beginning this was a very difficult book to write. I wanted to write about Lucy’s distorted memories of what happened to her mom without being too heavy. I also wanted the reader to read Lucy’s actions, feelings and thoughts through the lens of her unconscious grief, yet this had to be done so subtly.

And I also thought, does the world really need another dead mother book? In the end I decided yes.

But unlike other dead mom books, where the event as more of a plot device, in my book Lucy’s memories (both conscious and unconscious) of the death and how her family dealt with it, form the main plot. I want the reader to see how a traumatic event that happens in a child’s life will forever color the way she sees the world. AND also to see what happens when memories of that event are distorted, when the truth is hidden somewhere deep inside.

I also knew that I had to tie Lucy’s experience to my other characters’ experiences as well as the reader’s experience. And so by introducing other plots lines – the annoying, mean boy from school who shows up at their summer community, the humorous, flawed neighbors, Dad’s new girlfriend, the camp Lucy runs, the older girls she looks up to, her incredible bond with her wonderful dog Superior — I was able to create a story where Lucy, and the reader, realize that we all tell stories, in some way, to ourselves to protect ourselves from things that hurt and are painful.

This is a story about transition, of a girl not only moving to a different stage of “knowing,” but also moving from elementary up to middle school. It’s about realizing that kids who bully are often bullied themselves. It’s about special summer places and the joy of exploring a beach on a lazy afternoon, finding pleasure in sighting an eagle, digging for clams, counting stars in a cloudless night sky and smelling the fire during a clambake.

It’s funny, sometimes sad, but a mostly a hopeful book about friendship, facing our fears and learning to let go yet still hang onto the things we love.

To me, this story is also about being who you are and discovering who you will become is a place that is home but not home. Our family spent a lot of summers on the Cape and you made friends because you are neighbors or in the same tennis or sailing class or maybe even that your moms sit near each other on the beach.

Pragmatic Mom also posted on A Million Miles from Boston here.

I am giving away 3 copies of A Million Miles to Boston. Please Tweet and comment below to win.

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Just another Mom…but one who writes great YA and visits book groups

I have written about Karen Day twice and met her twice as of yesterday. She is as warm, lovely and as down-to-earth as you would imagine from her books. She can also hold a room of 10 year old girls in thrall as she talks about writing, character development and rejection letters (which she put together on a long laminated scroll that was a striking visual aid).

How did I get this invite? Why, Pragmatic Mom, of course. Her daughter’s book group read No Cream Puffs and Pragmatic Mom knows the author (from other Mom activities). They got to talking about books (no surprise) and Karen graciously offered to join them for the book group. How cool is that? You read a great book with group of friends and then the author comes to your house to talk about it – very cool.

Karen put the group at ease right away and they worked away on fun (sparkles, beads, stickers!) craft projects that also helped with keep hands busy and awkwardness at bay. She was gracious and engaging and answered all sorts of great questions about her book: how she writes, what happened when she finally got published and the critical “did that really happen” questions. Check out a full report here from Pragmatic Mom. Thanks for letting me sit in!

Karen’s new book due out in the Spring is A Million Miles from Boston. We are looking forward to this next book from a favorite author.

A MILLION MILES FROM BOSTON tells the story of 12-year-old Lucy Gallagher, who lives in Boston with her Dad, brother and beloved dog, Superior. It’s been a rough school year, with an annoying boy and Dad’s new girlfriend in the picture. Lucy can’t wait to get to Maine, where she spends summers at her family’s cottage. Where she feels most like herself. But on her first day, Lucy’s summer is turned upside down with the arrival of a new family. Could the summer get worse? It does. But Lucy learns a valuable lesson. That people aren’t often what they seem.

Coming Spring 2011 by Wendy Lamb Books/Random House.

No Cream Puffs by Karen Day

I liked Tall Tales so much (Karen Day’s first book) that I could barely wait until my youngest finished No Cream Puffs to read it. This is a story of how 12 year old Madison becomes a local celebrity by doing nothing special-  well, in her mind anyway – she just wants to play baseball. And the fact that she is the first girl to play in the boy’s league in Michigan (the story set in the 1970’s) is a very big deal to a lot of  people, some supportive, some not.  Karen Day does a great job of  grasping the feelings of a middle-schooler – the insecurities, the drastically fast ebb and  flow of friendships (especially that of girls), and finding out who you really are and what you care about – it’s something that eludes many adults. I liked everything about this book and your tween will, too.  You don’t have to be a huge baseball fan to like it either – but it might make you want to go toss a ball or at the very least, cheer on your local team.

Tall Tales by Karen Day

capability:mom on tall tales by karen daySo on with my Young Adult fiction read-a-thon. Just read Tall Tales by Karen Day – – her first novel and it was wonderful.  Here is a summary:

Meg has a secret…actually it is the family’s secret. Her father is an alcoholic.  Meg makes up elaborate stories so that people won’t come over and set him off or see him drunk.  The whole family has learned to walk on eggshells around him and they have moved many times to accommodate his inability to stay sober and engaged on the job. No surprise, his father was an alcoholic, too, and he was physically and verbally abused as a child. (more…)

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