To celebrate the release of Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon on March 1st, blogs across the web are featuring original content from Mel, as well as 10 chances to win the hardcover! Sounds exciting, right? Great because I know I'm excited, and if you're excited too, then we're in good company and the perfect place to start our stop on the tour. Speaking of which...we not only have a SPECIAL POST but a SPECIAL BOOK to introduce, and I'll be a monkey's uncle if I don't introduce that title before we get to the nitty gritty. So, without further ado, let's meet today's book of choice and blog tour guest...
Fall in love with sixteen-year old Rosie, a girl with Down syndrome who’s fighting for little freedoms, tolerance, and love. A stunning, beautifully insightful debut YA novel from Mel Darbon.
“An enthralling story of resolve and grit... a moving and uplifting novel.” –The Guardian
"They can't send you away. What will we do? We need us. I stop your angry, Jack. And you make me strong. You make me Rosie."
Rosie loves Jack. Jack loves Rosie. So when they're separated, Rosie will do anything to find the boy who makes the sun shine in her head. Even defy her parents’ orders and run away from home. Even struggle across London and travel to Brighton on her own, though the trains are cancelled and the snow is falling. Even though people might think a girl like Rosie, who has Down syndrome, could never survive on her own.
Introducing a strong and determined protagonist with Down syndrome, debut author Mel Darbon gives readers an underrepresented but much-needed point of view with a voice-driven, heartfelt story of finding your place an often big and intimidating world.
“The author stays out of Rosie's way, successfully depicting her protagonist as a person, not a puppet or a platform. The other characters populating the book are realistic, with a striking range of personality traits. The plot is so engrossing that the book is almost impossible to put down. Yes, Rosie loves Jack, and readers are going to love Rosie.” —Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
This book was a challenge for me. I had to get behind the eyes of a character that's not often represented, at least not as the lead narrator, in books that I've previously read, and while exciting, it left me initially unsettled...much like I'm guessing she feels when people express themselves differently to her. I pressed on, found my footing, and quite honestly, could not believe the strength, the beauty, and the wonder of our girl Rosie.
She could charm you with a smile, disarm you with her simple few of the world, and melt your heart with her innocence. She knew her feelings for Jack were real, something worth fighting for, so when obstacles were put in her way, there was nothing that would stop her from reaching him. Like she says...Jack made Rosie, Rosie....and Rosie made Jack, Jack. They completed each other, maybe not in the exact sense that everyone imagines, but it worked for them, and anyway, what two relationships look EXACTLY alike? The miles she travels, the people she interacts with, the situations she finds herself in, would be enough to topple the most able-bodied genius to their knees. Those that showed her kindness, I blessed. Those that showed her indifference, I wished enlightenment upon. Those that showed her disdain, I thought less than nice words towards. Those that aimed to harm her and shatter her brightness in the world...were my sworn enemy. You see, it doesn't matter how kind a heart or innocent a soul, bad things can happen...but it's that desire to push through, that never say die spirit, that uniqueness of her viewpoint and her ability to always look for good in the world that helped her come out the other side. True, the ending is fraught with potential disaster despite all she went through...but you can't help but see how much better the world is for having Rosie in it, and hoping against hope that she gets her happy ending.
So if you're looking for a Young Adult book with a unique perspective, and a gritty story that just might end in the love of a lifetime, this is SO the book for you!
And now...a word from the author as we share her thoughts to her teenage self...
Letter to My Teenage Self
by Mel Darbon
Dear Teenage Mel,
Life has been a bit tough for you recently, so I thought I’d write you a letter to help you out, because I want you to know that everything will be okay in the end. I promise you that.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since I was your age. I now have forty-four years more experience and knowledge to pass on to you. I wish I’d known just some of it then; maybe then you wouldn’t be feeling so lost and adrift on your ocean of insecurity.
As I started writing this letter, I didn’t realise how firmly it would put me back in my sixteen-year-old shoes. It was a shock to feel your intensity of emotion, full of torment and self-doubt, never good enough or loveable enough, even though you always try to do your best. So, here’s what I’d tell you now and hopefully it might help some other teenagers who are struggling to find their place in this world, too.
Let’s start right in that darkest of places you go to—and don’t think you’re the only one who is going there. All teenagers spend huge chunks of their time worrying about all sorts of things and it’s easy to blow them out of proportion. Remember those days when you feel like you’ve been thrown into the sea and left to drift out on the water without a swimming aid? And you’re surrounded by boxes bobbing around you, full of all the answers, only to find every time you got near one, a dangerous unforeseen current whips it away from you? That’s because you’re not ready to see what’s in the box. I’m sorry if that doesn’t sound very helpful, but it takes time to work all this out and time is something you have, to learn to be the best human being that you can be. Live more for the moment and stop worrying about the future because you’ll get there in the end—that’s a given. Remember, you never stop learning about yourself and your place in this world, not until the day you die, but you will begin to realise what a positive thing that is, because if you don’t rush it, you won’t miss anything important, so, tread that water gently. If you look around you, there are lots of buoys to hold on to, to keep you safe and anchor you. When the sun shines, as you know it does, parts of the sea sparkle with light, like stars in the night sky. They will guide you and give you hope, so keep looking up. On your worst days, if that depression, that sea monster lurking deep down at the bottom of the ocean, swells up and shoots blackness through you, remember that you will always get through it. You’re a survivor and the human spirit is stronger than anything that happens to it.
So, you never felt like you fitted in? I know you somehow feel you are standing on the outside of everything, looking in at everyone else, all together having fun, like a kid looking through the toy shop window. It isn’t true; most of your friends are feeling exactly the same thing too, but no one ever says anything. Never forget that everyone is as scared inside as you are. Everyone struggles to fit in, even as an adult you will feel that you are an imposter, that you haven’t a clue what you’re doing and that you’ll never be good enough. All this stems from that thing called peer group pressure. Don’t let that happen, be brave, be yourself and don’t compromise who or what you believe in to be like everyone else. It’s great to be an individual and not follow the crowd, even if it doesn’t always feel like that. You know what is right or wrong, so stand up and be counted.
Stop blaming yourself for everything that goes wrong and remember that we all make mistakes. Ignore that shaming voice and believe in yourself. That voice keeps you bound to your insecurities. Shame is one of the most destructive emotions and it’s making you feel you are not good enough or that something is wrong with you. You have nothing to feel ashamed of; you are learning. Mistakes are how you learn, and the important thing is not to repeat the same mistake. Let go of this shame around yourself or it will silence you. As soon as you do this it will free you to be yourself. Train yourself to let go of things you can’t control and by doing this you’ll put yourself back in control. Everything that happens to us has the potential to make us stronger.
Look at your life as if it is a jigsaw puzzle. You need the edges of the puzzle, your boundary, before you can start filling in the rest of the puzzle and the most difficult bit at the centre. Search for your inner voice of approval and listen to it carefully because it is that voice that will hold you in good stead and will guide you in the right direction. Ask yourself if you like who you are becoming; if you don’t, you can change it. Doing this will empower you, otherwise you will spend your life worrying about all the bad things that might happen or what might go wrong. Search instead for the good things and what might go right. You will be a lot happier for it! Doubting yourself can be very destructive and becomes self-fulfilling if you let it. You get things out of proportion and build mountains out of molehills, don’t you? All teenagers do this, it’s part of being a teenager, but stop over-thinking. That thing you think is going to ruin your life—it won’t. The fear is always bigger than the problem. I have found this to be true, so you can trust me on this one.
Follow your dreams and know that it can take a lot longer than you might want it to, but it’s worth the wait. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, as that’s a sure way to destroy your own dreams. Have faith in yourself, believe that you can do it and you will, as anything is possible if you want it enough and you are willing to work hard to get there, against all the odds. Dreams are built on hard work and sacrifice. It’s worth every bit of it, as you’ll know when you hold your first published book in your hands and fully understand that all those years of waiting had been worth it and that it wouldn’t have been the book it is without all the life experiences you have learned along the way.
Most of all, as you will one day see in something you are going to write, that it is enough to be you, it is enough to be just Mel. Never forget that.
With all my love to you,
Your future self. xxx
Mel Darbon spent a large part of her childhood inventing stories to keep her autistic brother happy on car journeys. She won’t mention the time spent with him standing by level crossings waiting for the InterCity 125 to go past, as she wouldn’t want to be labelled a train spotter. Life took her in many different directions working as a theatre designer and freelance artist, as well as teaching young adults with learning disabilities and running creative workshops for teenage mums. She moved to Bath in 2014 with her husband and their dog, Alfie. Rosie Loves Jack is her debut book.
Special thanks to Casey at Media Masters Publicity for bringing this title to my attention, and to Peachtree Publishing Company for the ARC for review. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, or the publisher, feel free to click through the links provided above. Be sure to check out the rest of the tour for more bookish fun!
Blog Tour Schedule:
3/1 - BookhoundsYA
3/2 - Book Briefs
3/3 - Frantic Mommy
3/8 - I'm All Booked Up