Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I HEART YA 2014: Top Ten Reasons Why Young Adult Is So Important + Girls Rule Character Interview: If I Speak True (Flora Series, #1) by Jessica L. Brooks

If I Speak (Flora Series, #1)

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Synopsis: Dahlia Kennedy's sixteenth birthday marks a decade of mysterious dahlias arriving and strange, lonely dreams of being in a forest. The only difference this birthday, however, is that for the first time, someone is there with her. And he's practically from a whole other era.

The more often Dahlia visits Rowan in his land of Ambrosia, the stronger their connection grows. But... is Ambrosia real? Is he real? What is going on between the two of them, exactly, and why does he insist that she keep it to herself?

As secrets usually go, however, it's only a matter of time before everything comes out. And when Dahlia finds out the truth of who Rowan is, who she is, and how he really feels -- it’s beyond anything she could have ever imagined.


TeamNerd Reviews: What would you say are your strongest qualities? What do you think makes a girl a total badass?

Dahlia Kennedy: First, I’d like to say hi, guys! *waves* Thanks for the interview!

My strongest qualities? Geesh. Um, maybe that I know what I want? I may not be the first to speak up about it, but I’m working on it. As for what makes a girl a total badass, I love girls who are physically able to defend themselves and/or others, but really, the highest form of bad-assery in my book would be girls who aren’t afraid to stand up for who and what they believe in. And when I say “stand up”, I don’t mean disrespectfully knock others who don’t share those same views; I’m talking about girls who are proud of what they think and believe in, and what and whom they care for, and aren’t afraid to show it.

TeamNerd Reviews: What’s a piece in your wardrobe you just have to have on you at all times and why?

Dahlia Kennedy: Now, it’s definitely a medallion Rowan gave to me recently. Before that, probably my favorite pair of jeans. My best friend, Eva, says they “should have gone into the trash with the rest of the kiddie clothes” when we started high school, but I don’t think they’re not kiddie at all; they’re soft in all the right places--I’m short, so sometimes it’s hard to find the right style--and these still look pretty dang good if you ask me! (Eva’s a hater when it comes to anything I wear anyway.)

TeamNerd Reviews: How did you take the news when Jessica L. Brooks revealed she would be writing a book about what you and Rowan went through?

Dahlia Kennedy: Well, it’s weird now, because as of responding to this interview, I’m on summer vacation and senior year is about to start. Which means I’ve met Rowan, of course, and we’re, well, what we are, and a lot of secrets are being held from Helen (my mom), my sisters, Aster and Acacia, and Eva and David, which makes having Rowan and my experience “out there” pretty alarming, to be honest. Especially since Eva and I and a fellow classmate of ours, Shane, work at Shoreline Books. The likelihood of this book coming to the store eventually is high, and with the yellow dahlia on the cover (oh gosh, I didn’t even think about that until just now) I can’t imagine Eva not being suspicious. So, yeah, I was pretty hesitant about it. I did think it was cool that she wanted to share what I’ve learned of Ambrosia and myself and Rowan, and only a couple of weeks ago finally came to terms with the fact that, by the time it finds its way to the bookstore, I will hopefully already have been able to tell those closest to me about it.

Oh, and I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but Jessica has also been following me along on my summer break, taking notes from times I’ve met up with Rowan, David’s eighteenth birthday party that Eva and I threw at the lake, and so on. You’d be surprised at how much can happen during the summer. (I’m still trying to wrap my head around it all. One word: drama.) Far as I know, that will be called Open Thy Heart, and will be available to read around the fifteenth of September.

TeamNerd Reviews: If I Speak True became a movie and you could decide which actress would play your role, who would you choose and why?

Dahlia Kennedy: Jodelle Ferland, maybe? We’re both short, both have long, dark hair, and both have similarly-shaped faces. I think she’d do a spectacular job of portraying the feelings involved in the whole Ambrosian thing, and she seems to be the type of girl who loves to read.

TeamNerd Reviews: If you could travel back in time to hang out with any author/actor who had lived, who would you choose and why?

Dahlia Kennedy: I currently have this fascination with poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I can’t imagine living when she lived (even just to visit), but to feel what she felt when she put so many of her poems into words, to be able to study under her, well, that would be amazing.

TeamNerd Reviews: What’s one of the most embarrassing moments you’ve had around your crush you wish you could do over?

Dahlia Kennedy: One time I bought a gorgeous dress to wear when meeting the Queen, and forgot to wear shoes with it. Oh and another time I was riding Rowan’s horse, Ebon, with him, and he stopped really fast, and I wasn’t holding onto Rowan as well as I thought I was, and I fell off. Rowan laughed so hard, I thought he was going to stop breathing. That was pretty embarrassing.

TeamNerd Reviews: If you could have any band or artist come up with a theme song personally designed for your life, which band or artist would you want to come up with it? What would the title of the song be?

Dahlia Kennedy: Oh I love this question! My favorite band is Twice Antiquated, so definitely them. The song would be… In Light of the Truth.

TeamNerd Reviews: Let’s wrap this up with some fun questions to tease your fans with *wink*:

Dahlia Kennedy: Needs her stinking driver’s license already.

Favorite weapon: The knife Briscoe’s been teaching me to use lately.

Favorite cuss word (real or made up): Acacia and I started to say “salt” in front of Helen so we wouldn’t get into trouble, and it stuck. In Ambrosia, they say “flont”. I like it, but don’t think I could pull it off.

Favorite go to dessert: orange sherbet or chocolate

Favorite sound: The creek in the clearing in Ambrosia.

Thanks for having me, Annabell and Bridget!!!


Jessica L. Brooks is a lover of books, coffee, and all things owl-dorable. She writes young adult books about near-future dystopia (Pity Isn't An Option, Cozenage #1, available now) and magical realism (If I Speak True, Flora #1 available now; By Sun and Candlelight, Flora #1.5 and Open Thy Heart, Flora #2 coming in August and September '14, respectively), and loves to serve virtual cookies.

Where to Stalk Jessica!


1) YA encourages diversity.

Society in general is quick to put people in a box (all of the time, of course, but especially in high school). Boxes are society’s “comfort zone”. When a person doesn’t seem to fit into a particular box, it makes people feel uncomfortable. How do you address/categorize/converse with someone who, say, spikes their hair, wears all black, listens to country music, and loves Anne of Green Gables? Horrible example, I know, but here’s my point: YA proves, time and time again, that people can like different things—or, more importantly—that they can like many things that are different. That, in fact, it’s totally normal, and more people like diverse things than actually care to admit. (News flash: the world is full of “un-boxable” people. Some are just louder about it than others.) Basically, what I’m saying is, YA proves that there are people in all walks of life, with skin all shades of color, and interests of all kinds, whose thoughts and objectives and goals and emotions are equally as important.

2) YA helps solve problems.

The YA genre does not exist to teach, but pretty much every YA book ultimately teaches some form of cause and effect. That’s something we tend to deal with a lot in the young adult years (but really, our entire lives): determining what to do based on what’s best for us (and others) in the short and long run, then dealing with the consequences of those choices. YA reminds us that, “hey, this happens to others, too”. When situations like those in YA books come up in real life, readers have already been exposed to the idea, and are better prepared for how to handle it.

3) YA is all-inclusive.

No matter who you are, how old you are, what you look like, who you know, where you live, or what language you speak, you can read YA. In the words of W. H. Auden,

There are good books which are only for adults. There are no good books which are only for children.

The writing is mature, but never over one’s head. Readers find they’ve either dealt with a situation a character is dealing with, or know of someone who is. You can’t read YA and not feel more connected to at least part of what the characters are going through. It’s the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, only this time, it’s the Six Degrees of YA fiction.

4) YA is real.

Life is messy and hard and fun and colorful and black and white and full of decisions and happiness and worry and strife and laughing and crying and a whole lot of boring times. YA life happens to everyone, and we always, eventually, come out the other side.

5) YA is a safe destination.

YA enables readers to go to places they’d never find themselves visiting in real life. They can go to any country, during any timeframe, as pretty much anyone that they want. It’s an interactive game you can play anywhere, at any time.

6) Reading YA keeps you young.

I’m not saying YA books are the proverbial fountain of youth or anything, but for those of us over the actual young adult age, young adult fiction bridges the generational gap while reminding us how things were when we were that age at the same time. And, in all seriousness, it also keeps us older readers up-to-date on pop culture, problems at the current societal level, and even (at the risk of sounding like an old fogey here) helps us stay up to date with their current “lingo”. It’s easy to become out of touch with younger generations when you’re oblivious to how times are now. YA keeps us in the know.

7) YA is good for the soul.

Okay, no, I don’t have any stats to back that up, but it’s true. YA fiction gets you thinking. Makes you react. Compels you to feel. Spurs conversations. Pulls people together. Encourages creativity. Even when you walk away from a book with a book hangover, you still, ultimately feel GOOD. YA books do not encourage you to feel blasé. They encourage you to sympathize and react and have feelings and to think for yourself.

8) YA is honest.

Young adult protagonists (and antagonists) don’t lie about life. They have issues, they make smart and not-so-smart decisions, they’re inconsiderate at times, they act out, they learn (and don’t learn) from their experiences. The upcoming future usually holds more questions than answers, and many young adults even grapple with whom they can trust. Show me a perfect main character with a perfect life, and I’ll show you a book that’s not read very often. Honest characters and situations remind readers (of all ages) that we’re human, no one ever has it all together, and that’s okay.

9) YA is enjoyable.

Simply put, young adult fiction is not adult literature. The plots are usually quicker-paced, with topics readers of all ages can find entertaining. (Not to mention, the amount of categories and subcategories in YA is astounding. Talk about having choices!)

10) And the last reason why the young adult genre is so important:

It just is. J

Get a chance to win a SIGNED copy of IF I SPEAK over on the I HEART YA 2014 Giveaways page!

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