Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers….a place that is a second home for me (virtually, of course) and hopefully for many of you.
Today, we are playing host to a book tour courtesy of Lightning Book Promotions. (Head’s up….there are many pieces to this post, but hang in there, it’s worth the read.) Although it’s a Young Adult title, it’s not your typical read. How so? If you haven’t noticed, there’s an upward trend in the YA arena of contemporary fiction works dealing with HARD topics, in fact a few have been featured here on my own site recently and there are several more to come. Why do we read them? Perhaps the better question is WHY are they written? I mean, isn’t fiction suppose to take us away from all the drama life has to offer? Isn’t THAT why we indulge in fantasies and far off places? Sometimes, yes; sometimes, no.
In my mind, they are there to help broach subjects that need discussing but are often seen as too taboo to bring up, too uncomfortable to ask about, or simply too private to share. The problem? These subjects are more often than not ones that MUST be brought to light if the party cast as victim is ever to escape, heal and move on. I’ve no experience personally in the topic covered in today’s book (and hopefully none of you do either), but if you do or know someone who does, perhaps this might be used as a stepping stone to bridge the Grand Canyon size gap you might see before you. (WARNING: Recommending this as an actual read for older teens through adults due to subject matter and some content.) But I digress…allow me to introduce this title appropriately. Today’s book of choice is…
The Truth About Lilly Barnes
From the book description on Amazon….
“Today is the day it is going to happen. I’m not melancholy or nervous. I just want to get it over with more than anything. Today is the day that I, Lilly Barnes, die.”
Lilly Barnes has no desire to live anymore. She is prepared to leave her family, and more importantly her best friend Buddy, behind for good. But, why? What could be so horrible that it makes a young girl want to end her life? Find out in The Truth about Lilly Barnes.
How’s that for an opening? Go ahead. Go back and reread it. If it doesn’t make you curious to find out exactly WHY someone is making this statement…you might want to check your pulse…or perhaps you’re heart is occupied with other matters at the moment. Seriously, it was an attention grabber for me and I was instantly drawn into Lilly’s story.
As hard as it was to read at times, my eyes never left the page. I had to know what had happened to push this girl to the extreme thinking and actions currently coursing through her body. It wasn’t a passing thought, it was a “must know”. For such a short story, I was impressed by how invested I was in her life, in her fate from page one through the end. One would think that with those opening lines, the story would be over fairly quickly….not so. There is more than meets the eye here and I’m not talking merely a passing glance at what was or might have been. We’re in the here and now with Lilly as she takes the measured steps to ensure her final fate comes on swift wings. We see through her eyes as everything falls into place and then….doesn’t. We feel the aftershocks of decisions made and secrets kept. We see the healing that an open heart can facilitate and the warmth that a true friend can bring even in the darkest hour.
I’m not going to lie to you (not that I ever do…just a figure of speech), the revelation of how she reached this place of no return was hard to take so I wouldn’t suggest passing this to a younger child, but as sad and infuriating as it was? These things happen in our reality. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s true. You hear about it on the news, in the papers, in your neighborhoods and the best resolution I can think of to solving this problem (besides scum seeking missiles – sorry for the language but really, they are low life forms) is COMMUNICATION. Talking to one another. Have close friends. Be close with your family. Make sure there is someone you can talk to about anything and everything should the need arise and if you don’t have that, seeking out those organizations that are there to assist in that time of need. NO one is ever alone in these types of situations…unless they choose to be and even still, there’s HOPE. Buddy and his family, Dr. Marks, even Anna (though she’s problems of her own) prove this to be true in Lilly’s life….wouldn’t you do the same for someone in your reach?
Sorry for the emotional tangent there….this story will really get you involved. When the tour first came around, I wasn’t certain I’d have a chance to read the book first (though I’m glad I did) and so I opted for another opportunity in the mean time…an interview with the author. Curious what the results were? Your wait is over. Please give a warm welcome to author Kimberly Russell….
Author Interview: Kimberly Russell
1. That's quite the opening; very powerful if not in a sad sense. I know it made me want to know more. Tell me, what prompted you to write Lilly's story?
I wanted to write Lilly’s story because I’m interested in that moment when a person just can’t take anymore. I wanted to write about what would get a person to that point in their life. Lilly’s “truths” are difficult but I feel like I could have written an entire series on what makes someone suicidal. I think it’s an important subject that isn’t really touched on enough. I hope I did it justice.
2. Now, I haven't read the book as of yet (though I HAVE added it to my "must read" list [...and have read it since this question was asked!]) but from the sample I've checked out, Lilly seems like a run of the mill girl. The things she'll be missing are standard teen girl fare begging the question...any real life connections or perhaps someone she is modeled after?
This is the most popular question. I had a really hard upbringing and I’m not saying that Lilly is me, because she’s not, but I think I hide little pieces of myself in my writing. But, I think all writers do that. I wanted to write about a normal girl who was just dealing with some really tragic, complicated issues. I think there are a lot of “Lilly’s” out there. In fact, I know there are because I have received numerous emails from girls thanking me for writing her. That is the best part of this whole thing, because at the end of the day, I just want to help in my tiny insignificant way.
3. We know how Lilly's story ends, or at least how it will if she has her way...and unfortunately, life can get to that point where things simply feel "too much". For those out there that may be in situations such as Lilly's, what would you say to them?
I would tell them to hang in there. You couldn’t pay me to be a teenager again. I think that’s why young adult literature is so popular – it’s such a difficult time in our lives and the issues that arise are versatile. I would tell them that they will get the chance to grow up and many of the issues they are currently having will become a moot point. I would tell them that they can handle anything; they are stronger than they think.
I have given my contact information out previously and I’m going to do it again – you can email me anytime you need to talk. You aren’t alone. http://www.kimberly-russell.com/contact.htm
4. Not everyone is in love with a long summary (though if they make a habit of visiting my site, they probably get that more often than not ^_^), so for those with a more tuned attention span, describe your novel in TEN words or less. Ready? Set? Go!
A look at heartache with a little bit of love. (Hey! I got it on the first try!)
5. So, it looks like you are a reader too; funny how that often goes hand in hand with actually penning a work. From the sound of it, some of your favorite authors are OUR favorite authors as well! Tell me, if you could pick one writer present or past to have a heart to heart with, who would it be...and what would the discussion be like?
Stephen King said something that I really love, “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” I think it’s so true!
Let’s see - I love this question! I want to say Jane Austen so badly but I’m going to go with Stephanie Perkins. I guess she is a fairly new writer but I’m a tad obsessed with her books; I’ve read Anna and the French Kiss like four times this year.
She has a way with words that I will never be able to master (but that won’t stop me from trying). She is amazing! Her story telling is flawless and seemingly easy which tells me it’s anything but. She has the ability to create dreamy boys and really likeable female characters as well. I would ask her about that – her character building process. I would ask her about her writing process in general, where she gets her inspiration, and will she be my best friend. Okay, that last one was a joke. Kind of.
6. I noticed in your "about me", family time and baking (along with a love of Jimmy Fallon?) occupy your non writing time. Tell us, if you weren't a writer, what would you be?
Yes, I am in love with Jimmy Fallon. I’m not crazy I swear! My other aspirations pretty much still consist of dream jobs (I live in
I’ve played the French horn since I was 12 and I would love to play for an
orchestra. The LaLa Land
ballet was auditioning a few months ago for a fourth chair position but I
chickened out. I think it would be the coolest thing ever! Houston
7. I must say, I love your acknowledgement page and how you thank everyone from your friends and family to the readers taking the time to indulge in your work. Any words of wisdom for those out there seeking to follow in your footsteps to publication?
I never handle this question well. The other day I received an email from another indie author asking me about my success and all that I’ve accomplished, they basically wanted tips from me. My knee jerk reaction was to send them over to Sarah Dessen’s profile because surely they didn’t mean to email me. J
To answer the question though I would say:
- Keep writing, no matter what, keep writing
- Don’t go searching for a subject – write something you know about
- Believe in yourself and your writing
- Query letters are no joke; don’t let them hurt your feelings
- If you have to self-publish its not failing, it’s actually very rewarding
- Be nice if you receive bad reviews
- Keep writing (I know I said that already but it’s incredibly important)
Thank you so much Ms. Russell for those heartfelt (and fun) answers! I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with us and giving us another view on how this work came to be.
Now I’m smack in the center of the tour (well, almost), so be sure to check out all the other stops along the way as it continues to move through the blogosphere through September 16th! Last but not least…I told you this post has A LOT of pieces…you have the chance to win a copy of this book to call your own thanks to the author! Fantastic, right? Here’s the rafflecopter….you know what to do….
Special thanks to Stormi with Lightning Book Promotions for the chance to participate in this tour. (THANKS!) For more information on this tour as well as their upcoming promotions, be sure to stop by their site. To discover more about author Kimberly Russell, check out her official site, like her on Facebook, or follow along on Twitter.
Until next time…happy reading!