Fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen will fall in love this contemporary debut about finding yourself-and finding love-in unexpected places.
Ocean breeze in her hair and sand between her toes, Anise can’t wait to spend the summer before her senior year surfing and hanging out on the beach with friends. Santa Cruz is more than her home-it’s her heart. But when her aunt, a single mother, is in a serious car accident, Anise must say goodbye to California to help care for her three young cousins.
Landlocked Nebraska is the last place Anise wants to be. Sure, she loves her family, but it’s hard to put her past behind her when she’s living in the childhood house of the mother who abandoned her. And with every Instagram post, her friends back home feel further away.
Then she meets Lincoln, a charismatic, one-armed skater who challenges her to swap her surfboard for a skateboard. Because sometimes the only way to find your footing is to let go.
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I really enjoyed forming the questions for this interview and loved the responses! This is a coming-of-age, contemporary story that follows Anise as she lives in the childhood home of her absent mother for the summer. Before you read the first question in the interview, let me clarify something: Laura Silverman received a herd of hateful comments, spam and false reviews on the book’s Goodreads page from trolls who attacking her online because she spoke up against an offensive tweet.
1)- This book has already gotten a surge of support from readers and authors who praise this book as a powerful coming of age story. I know this book had its fair share of nasty trolls berate it before they could have even read it, but how did it feel to have had supporters in the book community to virtually stand side by side and help combat the negativity?
It totally took me aback – I felt very overwhelmed and grateful the community rallied around me like that, especially because I was so new to the book community. There were a lot of really intense ups and downs during that whole incident – it was scary people I didn’t know wanted to tear me down because I’m Jewish and outspoken. It was absolutely terrifying my first book, all my work and my passion and my career, had a one-star rating from trolls. So I’m eternally grateful for the mass of support. I hope the community always takes care of each other and especially looks out more carefully for its marginalized members going forward.
2) Moving to Nebraska for the summer forces Anise to face internal struggles but also allows her to meet new people like Lincoln who challenges her to step out of her comfort zone. Lincoln, although not the main character, plays an important role in the book. What’s the most difficult thing when it comes to writing about a character of the opposite sex?
There are a lot of really difficult things about writing, but for me, writing a different gender comes pretty naturally. Gender roles thankfully get more deconstructed every day, so I don’t feel stuck to writing stereotypes for any particular gender.
3) Lincoln is a one armed skater. What kind of research did you have to do to properly represent those in similar situations and how long did it take?
I did a lot of googling, which led to more googling, and more googling, and I also worked with sensitivity readers and consultants. It took from draft one right through the final draft of the book. I started with big picture things, like literally why he had one arm, and finished with tiny details like getting a final pass to check for ableism I possibly missed. I’m disabled too, but my disability is different, and even if it weren’t, you can still miss things. I hope did the representation justice – it’s really important to me to normalize disabilities and not just make it another character’s inspiration porn.
4) ‘Without Answers’, your book in progress, explores what it’s like being Jewish in America. I could be wrong, but it sounds like this will draw on your personal experience. Will this be a personal story for you?
It’s hard to say too much because the book is still very much a work in progress but it’s definitely a more personal story for me than my first book. Ariel and I by no means share everything in common, but I’ve been exploring my Jewish identity along with him, learning more about my family, my past, and what it means to be Jewish here and now.
5) And how will the writing process of ‘Without Answers’ differ from the writing process of previous work?
So far the actual writing process is pretty similar but the business side is a bit different. Authors often sell second, third, fourth, etc., books on proposal, so I sold this book without even having a first draft, but now that I’m in writing mode it’s pretty similar. Writing charts, critique partners, etc. I just have more help and support now with an agent and an editor already on board ☺
6) What are topics you’d like to discuss in future writing?
I’d definitely like to write about living with chronic pain, or at least living with a chronic illness. That’s the other big personal topic for me. And in general, I’d really love to write a lot of Jewish protagonists. Their stories might not be about Judaism like my second book, but I think it’s important and exciting to put more Jewish characters on the shelves.