Interviews, Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

Book Review & Interview: The Edge of Juniper by Lora Richardson

The Edge of Juniper

GoodReads Summary:

“You’re off-limits, so why can’t I stop thinking about you?”

Fay Whitaker, sixteen years old and yearning for adventure, is excited to spend the summer with her fearless cousin Celia in small-town Juniper, Indiana.

But Fay soon discovers that her summer home is not what she expected. She is alarmed by her uncle’s temper, and learns of the grudge he holds against the Dearing family. Celia handles the tension at home by escaping with her boyfriend, leaving Fay with time on her hands—time that leads her straight to Malcolm Dearing, off-limits because of his last name. Fay is captivated by Malcolm’s warmth and intensity. She finds that trying to stay away from him only makes her think of him more.

Fay and Celia are launched on a journey, and each must attempt to navigate the thrilling and unpredictable world of love. Everything Fay thinks she knows about love is put to the test, as relationships unfold and reveal themselves in ways she never before dreamed.

Review:

The Edge of Juniper is a contemporary romance that analyzes family dynamics, friendships, and romantic relationships.I absolutely loved Lora Richardson’s writing. She was thought provoking and honest. There is a lot going on with the main character Fay, but Richardson manages to bring all of Fay’s thoughts and emotions to the forefront. Fay doesn’t hide who she or what she wants, but also  being 16, she still isn’t 100% sure of who she is what she wants.

I do have to say that because Fay is so open with her thought and emotions, her relationship with her parents is the kind I want with my kids. The aren’t afraid to discuss anything, and that includes sex. If/When I have children I want to make sure they can be honest with me. For example, Fay’s mother knows that teens have sex; instead of being crotchety about it, she literally buys her daughter condoms, explaining that Fay needs to be responsible and not just expect the guy to have them.

The Edge of Juniper is heartbreaking and eye opening. I absolutely loved it. Below is an interview I did with Lora. Guys she is fantastic and really gets into the nitty gritty of what the book truly represents.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Interview:

So I want to start off by saying thank you for joining us today at The Talking Bookworm. We are super excited to have you and to discuss your book The Edge of Juniper, which I absolutely loved.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with your readers.  I’m happy to be here, and I am delighted that you enjoyed my book!

Can you tell us a bit about The Edge of Juniper?

Fay, a 16-year-old Northeastern city girl, is sent to live with her cousins in Indiana for the summer.  She finds small town life charming, but she discovers some surprising things about her aunt and uncle’s home—not the least of which is the grudge her uncle holds against the Dearing family.  Fay is close with her feisty cousin, Celia, but must come to terms with the circumstances in Celia’s life, and her different style of decision-making. 

And then there’s Malcolm Dearing—strictly off-limits due to his last name.  Fay knows she shouldn’t spend time with him, because doing so will upset the delicate balance in her aunt and uncle’s home.  But the more she learns about him, and the more tumultuous Celia’s household becomes, the harder it becomes to stay away.

 This is a book about first love, the complexity of families, and a girl learning to trust herself.

What was the inspiration behind the novel?

I got the first spark of an idea when my mom told me about the time she spent a week with her cousins.  She had never been a houseguest before, and didn’t know what to expect.  She was surprised by some of the ways their household was different from her own.  I took that idea and ran with it, weaving in Fay—a strong character unafraid to speak her thoughts.  I wanted Fay to be open and genuine, wholly unguarded in her response to the world, and a little bit naïve.  I am curious about the various ways that households function, and how that can affect the behavior of the people inside them, especially teenagers who are making major life decisions, so I explored those thoughts in this novel.  

I loved that Fay and Malcom have no problem talking about sex and don’t feel the pressure to have sex. This is a really important message to both girls and boys. What prompted you to bring this into the story?

I, too, feel like it’s an important message.  I wanted to show a couple that is able to reveal their hearts, even when it’s scary.  I wanted a relationship to progress on its own timeline, without outside pressure—to show how amazing it can be to savor the current moment rather than rush to the next step. 

 I liked the idea of juxtaposing Fay and Malcolm’s relationship with that of Celia and her boyfriend, Ronan.  Celia is rarely honest with Ronan, and that mirrors the way she isn’t honest with herself.  She often hides from her own feelings.  Fay is someone who really examines her own thoughts, and shares them just as openly.  That can backfire, but mostly it draws her closer to the people around her.  Malcolm lives in a very connected, supportive household, where communication is paramount.  Between the two of them, they are able to simplify complicated things just by putting them to words. 

I also think the parent relationships and perception of other people’s families is super important. Can you talk more about that?

It’s amazing to think about all the houses in the world, each with its own group of people inside, all relating to each other and living in various ways.  The way a family seems from the outside can be quite different from what goes on inside.  That knowledge comes to a person slowly, beginning very young, in many big and small ways.  Through childhood and the teen years, I began to notice things, such as:  which households allow food in the living room, who has what curfew, which parents fight, who gets along with their siblings, who has a ton of chores, who always has both parents at the football game and who never has that parental support…and on and on.  Our differences can seem endless, but at heart, so are our similarities.  I think it’s important to think about how other people live, and to hold space and respect for those differences and how they influence a person’s behavior.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? I know I had a difficult time with Celia’s parents and Celia’s relationship with Ronan.

The hardest part was definitely creating Celia’s parents, Todd and Donna.  Every story needs an antagonist, but I didn’t want them to be caricatures—I wanted them to be complex and for their relationship to ring true.  I didn’t want them to seem evil, but rather, complicated—because those situations always are.  I hoped to show that fear motivated a lot of their behavior.

Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?  Summarize your writing process.

I definitely write by intuition.  I had the bare bones of the story in my head, and thought it would be smart to make an outline before I began writing.  It didn’t work for me.  I know many writers love using outlines, but I only got through chapter two before I stopped trying to force it and just let the story take me where it wanted.  Some key scenes stayed the way I imagined them in the beginning, but most everything else took shape as the words hit the page.  What I do, is allow myself a truly messy first draft, which I write as quickly as I can.  I just throw all my ideas on the page.  Then I let it simmer in my head for a while before returning to it when the story has gelled in my mind.

If you were deserted on an island, which three people would you want to have with you? Why? Criteria:

One fictional character from your book

Marigold.  I’m an anxious sort, and she would stabilize me and keep me calm when I started to spiral out of control.

One fictional character from any other book

Jamie Fraser from Outlander.  Aside from being great company, he could build us anything we might need and would be great at finding food.

One famous person that is not a family member or friend

Betty White was the first person who popped into my mind.  She has lived a fascinating life and would keep me entertained with her humor and the stories of her life.

 Thank you so much for having me! 

Thank you to Lora Richardson for joining us to talk about The Edge of Juniper today. You guys should go out and buy it cause it’s totally worth it. This is now is my top ten contemporary YA reads!

I’d like to thank Lora Richardson for the opportunity to read and review her novel.Blog Signature

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3 thoughts on “Book Review & Interview: The Edge of Juniper by Lora Richardson”

  1. Such thoughtful questions and answers! I loved both of Lora’s books as well. Her characters really speak to real life issues and capture what so many, teens and parents, go through.

    1. I really loved this book and wanted the readers discern what the book was about through the interview questions. It has such great themes and ideas for both girls and guys when it comes to families and sex. It definitely reflects real life.

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