This blog is about emerging author Melissa Wray and her journey into publication. It also includes some writing tips and useful links.
Melissa hopes there is enough time in her life to write all the stories she wants to write and read all the books she wants to read. Both lists are long!
Today I welcome Karen DelleCava to discuss her new YA novel, A closer look.
Freshman year presents a unique opportunity to redefine yourself, especially if you attend a regional high school where two thirds of the students are from different towns. But the tricky part is finding that balance between fitting in and standing out. And no one wants to stand out for the wrong reason.
In A Closer Look, Cassie is a rising track star grappling with the earth shattering news that she has alopecia areata, an auto immune disease, that is causing her hair to fall out.
No cure. Possible end result? Bald at fourteen years old. An easy target.
With her body turning against her, Cassie is desperate to keep her hair loss a secret. She can’t escape a competitive and, okay, downright cruel teammate who subtly and not so subtly makes Cassie’s life hell-on and off the track. Yes, bullying at its best. Add to the mix her former-teen-model mother and the new boyfriend who she’s terrified to lose if she dares to reveal the truth. Each day is a battle with her reflection as Cassie’s emotional journey passes through all the stages of grief.
Cassie probably didn’t know it, but while writing A Closer Look I was there with her every step of the way. In middle school, I had an accident with boiling water that left me with some serious scarring so I am intimately familiar with what it feels like to be uncomfortable in my own skin. The early dating years were especially rough.
The language and content might be considered mild compared to many of the novels here at UnCommonYA--not that I shy away from tough issues or language as a reader and a writer. The one F-Bomb in the original manuscript was edited out (and not aimed at who you might expect). I agreed with that decision because it didn’t make or break the plot. When a colorful word does appear, I think the reader may pause for an extra half a second and might then connect more deeply with Cassie’s emotional state.
All F-Bombs aside, sometimes less is more and I strived to use language that was honest, and right for Cassie and her story. There are so many teens who struggle with body image whether self-imposed or inflicted by tormentors that I hope Cassie’s voice will reach them (sometimes with a touch of humor), make them feel less alone and maybe even a little more comfortable in their own skin.
I couldn’t be more pleased that this post appears in September--Alopecia Areata Awareness Month.Find Karen DelleCava online: Website Facebook
A Closer Look was named a 2011 Top 40 Title for Realistic Fiction by the Pennsyvania School Librarians Association
“In A Closer Look, author Karen DelleCava gives readers a feisty character who deals with family secrets, boyfriend complications, a cruel teammate--and her own body turning against her. Readers will be rooting for Cassie all along, and will want to cheer for the way she proves that losing your hair doesn’t have to mean losing your spirit.”