Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Author Spotlight: In Search of Us by Ava Dellaira - 4.5 stars

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM

I was born in Los Angeles. One of my first memories is of looking out the window of the black Cadillac that my family drove across the wide-open desert when we moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is where I grew up, and where my sister and I spent countless summer afternoons making fairy potions, battling evil witches, and playing other imaginary games that probably contributed to my proclivity to make up stories.

My first memory of writing is as a second grader. I had been assigned to write a poem about the things I liked and why. I started out pretty unassumingly: “I like rainbows because they are pretty. I like kittens because they are soft.” And then I wrote, “I like my Mom—” but I couldn’t come up with an end to the sentence. I remember it vividly because it was my first awareness of that space between a feeling and the language we have to name it. No words were big enough. I thought about all of the things that I loved about her, all the fun stuff we did together, and finally I settled on, “I like my Mom because she gave birth to me.” That just seemed the most basic. (It was, in part, her beautiful life, and her sudden, untimely death that inspired me to write my first book, Love Letters to the Dead.)

After a lot of growing up (stories for another time), I got my undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago, and then received my MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, (where I lived on the bottom floor of a farm house once occupied by Kurt Vonnegut!). Upon graduating from Iowa, I moved to Los Angeles with aspirations of becoming a screenwriter. I had the good fortune to get a job working for Stephen Chbosky, the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and became an associate producer on his film adaptation of the book. When I got up the guts to give him some of my writing, he said, “I think you should write a novel.” The idea had actually never occurred to me before, but that night, on my drive home, I was staring absently at the half-full moon while waiting for a red light to change, and a title popped into my head: Love Letters to the Dead. I started writing the book that night. Since its publication, I've adapted it into a screenplay for Temple Hill (the company that produced the film versions of Twilight and The Fault In Our Stars) and I’m hoping to see it come to life on screen.

I now live with my husband, and spend my days writing in neighborhood coffee shops, in bed, in a tiny loft in our condo, where I can see the LA palm trees out the window, bending in the wind. While I was at work on my new book, In Search Of Us, I spent a lot of time wandering around Los Angeles with my headphones on, listening to James and Marilyn's music, and to Angie’s, imagining them in the same spaces where I found myself. 

When I'm not writing (or walking around and thinking about writing), I love to spend time reading, hiking, being at the beach, doing yoga, cooking, binge watching TV, and going to the movies (where I am always the one crunching on popcorn during the supposed-to-be-quiet moment). I love traveling, too. Since the publication of my first book, I've had the opportunity to visit Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, and many cities throughout the US. Whether in person or online, I've been blown away by the generosity of readers around the world. Thank you; getting to know you all has been an incredible joy and honor.

Title: In Search of Us
Genre: YA Contemporary
Author: Ava Dellaira
Publisher: FSG
Publication: March 6th 2018
Cover Rating: 4/5

In Search of Us by Ava Dellaira is the beautifully heart-wrenching story of two teenagers, Marilyn and Angie. The stories span 2 generations. Marilyn is Angie's mother but we get to see her story growning up and we get to learn about Angie's father who died before she was born. We get to see how horrible Marilyn's mother and uncle were and we get to see how finding out about her fathers family really impacts Angie's life.

Angie is seventeen and she just found out that her mother has been keeping a secret from her. Her father died before she was born but she never knew he left behind a family. A family that should have been a part of Angie's life as she grew up. A family that she can't figure out why her mother never told her about. Angie goes off on a road trip with her ex boyfriend in order to search for her uncle. She also has this hope in he heart that if her mother lied about her fathers family then maybe, just maybe, she lied about her father being dead, too.

I loved Marilyn's story. I was just so drawn in to watching this beautiful relationship unfold between her and James. We know from the beginning of the book that James doesn't get a happy ending but the exact way his life was ended was horrible. This book quickly turned into something I was NOT expecting. James deserved so much better than what he got. He was an amazing character and Marilyn was lucky to have had him in her life. He completely her and she completely him. I will probably always wonder how their lives would be different today had he still been alive. Especially when Marilyn found out she was pregnant.

Angies story was okay. I liked her pursuit to find her uncle but the the relationship portion where she was driving all this way with her ex was kind of weird for me. But that was all cleared up at the end when we find out exact how Angie felt about relationships and how scared falling in love made her just because of what happened to her parents. It is okay to be confused it just sucks that she had to break someones heart in the process. She also broke her own heart but I think she will be okay.

In the end, this book broke my heart and tried to put it back together again. The author stayed true to her form and wrote a story that engulfs its readers from the beginning until far beyond the end. I still think about this book every day and how much some of us don't know about our parents pasts and how they go to where they are today.

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.



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