Today, I'm honored to be part of the blog tour for the new YA novel by Ashley Hope Pérez.
THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY by Ashley Hope Pérez (Carolrhoda Books, February 1, 2012)
What can I say about THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY? Here are five quick things:
1) It is realistic fiction which is not my most common genre to read, yet...
2) ...once I picked it up, I could not put it down, because...
3) ...the characters are so raw and real, they assert themselves in your mind and don't leave, and...
4) ...even though it is raw, it offers hope for those who grow up in difficult situations, so...
5) ...you should totally read this thought-provoking novel. It's deep and it's wonderful.
Highly recommended for boys and girls, 9th grade and up.
As part of her blog tour Ashley has stopped by to offer up this (amazing and fun) top ten list for your reading pleasure:
Ashley Hope Pérez’s Top 10: How Becoming an Author Changed My Reading
(1) Now I really don’t judge a book by its cover.
That’s because I know that in most cases the author had little to no say in the cover design. Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely LOVE the covers of both my debut novel, What Can’t Wait, and my newest novel, The Knife and the Butterfly. But I was by no means the mastermind behind their awesomeness.
With What Can’t Wait, nobody showed me the preliminary cover designs. For The Knife and the Butterfly, my editor Andrew Karre let me inside the process a bit more and sent me a dozen possibilities for the cover. This time around, I got to comment on each. Still, I was weighing in without a vote; ultimately, the publisher decides what’s going to be on the cover.
(2) I read past jacket copy.
For me, reading the first few pages of a novel is a better way to evaluate its appeal for me than the blurbs on the book jacket. After all, summing up a book in a way that hooks the reader but doesn’t give away too much is really hard. In fact, I’m hugely relieved that I didn’t have to do it for The Knife and the Butterfly (and that Carolrhoda Lab did such an awesome job).
Before experiencing the publishing process first hand, I assumed that authors wrote—or at least got to approve—the jacket copy for their books (you know, those tantalizing book summaries on the book flap… the teasers on the back cover…). Nope, not at all. That’s all the publisher. So if you want to evaluate the author’s talent, start reading the book itself.
(3) I think of authors as human beings.
You’re probably thinking, um, as opposed to what, Ashley? Elves? Warlocks? Gods? Well… yeah. Before publishing my first novel, I imagined novelists inhabiting some sphere separate from us lowly mortals, a kind of literary Mount Olympus. Now I know that, like me, most authors squeeze their writing in around day jobs, kids, and otherwise ordinary lives. This makes the mere existence of whatever book I’m holding in my hand seem that much more amazing.
(4) I’m more generous.
All authors want their books to be loved. But of course every book can’t be the book for every reader. I still have strong opinions about what I read. I still hate some books and love others. But I don’t lose sight of the fact that writing a book—any book—is a feat worthy of respect.
(5) I read the dedications, acknowledgments, and the author’s note (if there is one).
I used to skip this stuff. It seemed unimportant and vaguely boring.
But unlike the jacket copy, this stuff is totally in the writer’s control. Now I adore reading these bits because they are the one place in the book where you hear the author’s voice (not the narrator’s or the speaker’s or the editorial staff’s). Especially in the acknowledgments page, we pretty much get to say whatever we want. It’s kind of like a cross between an award acceptance speech and a private thank you note. What’s not to love?
(6) I read across books.
I used to treat every book as a world in itself. I still do that, but I also love seeing what changes in an author’s writing from one book to the next. Sometimes this is about the maturing of the writing, and sometimes it’s about the differing demands each story places on the reader. The Knife and the Butterfly, for example, demanded that I tinker with the rules of my protagonists’ world whereas What Can’t Wait is straight realism. It’s also very cool to see what themes and situations resurface in multiple works by the same author.
(7) I read in support of community.
Writing is lonely. Publishing a book is scary. Because of that, it’s important that authors reach out and make connections by reading each other’s work and talking about it. I benefited from this help myself thanks to fellow Carolrhoda Lab author Blythe Woolston and online fairy godmothers like Cynthia Leitich and P.J. Hoover ( :) ). I still feel like a baby in the book world, but I aspire to give back to the awesome YA community I’ve had the privilege of joining. So I read and talk up other writers’ books.
(8) I read what writers are saying outside of their books.
When I started writing YA, I was teaching full time and had only the vaguest notion of what a blog was. Now I write one of my own and regularly read dozens by other authors (usually while I’m on the treadmill… so if you’ve seen sweat dribbles on my comments, now you know why!).
(9) I read to learn how to write.
I’m a writer, a teacher, and a comparative literature PhD student. That means I read a lot. Even when I’m wearing my scholarly hat, I pay attention to what texts are showing me about what can be done with words and stories. I also give myself permission to think about the consequences of a writer’s choice—and even what I might have done differently.
(10) I read to find courage.
It’s easy to be intimidated by the great works of others, but I try to turn that around and think this way: Melville couldn’t know if his idea for Moby Dick was brilliant or embarrassing. Richard Wright’s Bigger in Native Son might shock the socks off of some readers, but he might also change the reader’s view of the world. At the end of the day, each of us has to write to find out what we—and our characters—are capable of. I take courage in the fact that others have made it happen. And then I go write the best work that I can.
More interviews, excerpts, guest posts, and secrets (including two truths and a lie) coming throughout this month’s THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY blog tour. See the full tour schedule here.
Can’t get enough? Check out Ashley’s blog, follow her on twitter @ashleyhopeperez, or find her on facebook.
After a marijuana-addled brawl with a rival gang, 16-year-old Azael wakes up to find himself surrounded by a familiar set of concrete walls and a locked door. Juvie again, he thinks. But he can't really remember what happened or how he got picked up. He knows his MS13 boys faced off with some punks from Crazy Crew. There were bats, bricks, chains. A knife. But he can't remember anything between that moment and when he woke behind bars.
Azael knows prison, and something isn't right about this lockup. No phone call. No lawyer. No news about his brother or his homies. The only thing they make him do is watch some white girl in some cell. Watch her and try to remember.
Lexi Allen would love to forget the brawl, would love for it to disappear back into the Xanax fog it came from. And her mother and her lawyer hope she chooses not to remember too much about the brawl--at least when it's time to testify.
Lexi knows there's more at stake in her trial than her life alone, though. She's connected to him, and he needs the truth. The knife cut, but somehow it also connected.
Source of book: From author by request
Now for your chance to win an ARC of this amazing book! It's easy! Two things to note...
1) This giveaway is open until 11:59 on February 24, 2012
2) Contest is US and Canada only!
To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
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