Friday, February 23, 2018

Author Spotlight: Where I Live by Brenda Rufener + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM

Brenda Rufener is a technical writer turned novelist. She is the author of Where I Live, which School Library Journal called a “new and forthcoming YA to have on your radar,” Bustle and Barnes & Noble Teen Blog named a most anticipated YA contemporary book hitting shelves in 2018, and Booklist called “a well-rounded picture of a teen who’s more than her crisis.” Her next young adult novel, Since We Last Spoke, is slated for April 2019. Brenda lives in Durham, North Carolina with her family. You can find her online at

Link to Twitter: @BrendaKRufener or

Link to Instagram: @BrendaRufener or

Link to Facebook page: @BrendaRufenerAuthor or

Preorder/Order (HarperCollins):

Title: Where I Live
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Author: Brenda Rufener
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication: February 27th 2018
Cover Rating: 4/5
Reading format: Provided Hardcover

Where I Live is the story of Linden Rose and her homelessness. This story is very touching and Linden is such a wonderful character to deal with. Her entire situation was very sad but she made the best of what she had. 

Linden Rose is a very smart and interesting main character. She might be homeless and living in her high school but she is still a pretty positive and very intelligent about her entire situation. It is so sad that someone her age even has to think the way she does but if she didn't then there is no way she would have survived as long as she did. It also sucks that she has to lie to the people she loves the most because she doesn't want anyone knowing she is homeless.

Because Linden has to focus on how to get her next meal, shower or how to get her clothes washed, she doesn't have the time to do normal things for someone her age like fall in love, invite her friends over, etc. Which sucks because she has two of the best friends in the entire world. She feels extremely lucky for living in the middle of nowhere but ending up with not one, but two amazing friends. 

Linden happens to be the editor for her school blog. She gets really good grades and she has extremely high hopes of getting into her dream college with her two best friends so she can finally have a home and can stop lying to her best friends about her parental/living situation. In order to get into this school though she has to rely on scholarships. Her teacher shows her that there is an opportunity for her to get one but she has to write a really powerful piece for the school blog. With the help of Seung and Ham, the best friends, they come up with the idea to write about dating violence. One of their fellow classmates appears to be the victim of such a thing and they think its a fantastic idea to write about it. They also have hopes of helping this girl out of her horrible situation. But this topic brings back a lot of Lindens past and it forces her to have to make a lot of choices she never thought she would be faced with. And those choices could expose her deepest secrets to the people she loves the most

This book is based around the topic of domestic violence, violence in general actually. I have read a TON of Young Adult books in my lifetime but not many of them actually touch on this subject. There is so much violence in this world and so many people going through violent situations. It is a subject that really needs to be touched on more and I applaud the author for writing this book not only about violence but about a homeless teenager which is also a very real issue that many people don't even think about.

I think the only semi-bad thing I can say about this book is the beginning was pretty slow and I did have a hard time getting into it but after about 75 pages the pace really picked up and I got mad when I had to put the book down because I NEEDED to know what happened. I find a lot of contemporary books usually have a slow start for me.

In the end, I am so glad I got the chance to read this book. It was one of those stories that really stand out from the crowd. If you feel the same way I do about contemporaries, that they are all the same and rather boring, then I suggest trying this book out because it isn't like the rest. I really wish I could put some of my favorite parts in this review but I like to keep things as spoiler free as possible. Just know that there were a lot of amazing moments in this book that really touched me. And also know that every girl deserves a happy ending!

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars.

1) Where did the inspiration for Where I Live come from?

The character of Linden Rose is partly inspired by an amazing group of young women I spent time with in college. I volunteered with a literacy program and worked with young women facing adverse circumstances, many of them homeless. These women were unwilling to give up, even in the face of incredible adversity, and I was drawn to their persistence and positivity. How I wished teen-me had known these faces when I went through a similar situation–I would not have felt so alone. Their strength and determination was admirable. They were homeless but never hopeless.

2) How many books do you personally own?

I have three walls lined with bookshelves that are ninety-percent full. My math skills are fuzzy, but I’ll say 700+. 

3) If you could bring any of the characters in Where I Live to life who would it be and why?

I love Linden, Seung, and Ham for different reasons. Linden’s tenacity and strength, Seung’s tenderness and willingness to care, but most of all Ham’s confidence and secure sense of self. Ham’s a blend of my real-life friends so I feel I already know him. Ham compromises himself for no one and refuses to change who he is to fit in. For those reasons he will always inspire me. 

4) Who are some of your favorite YA authors?

In writing Where I Live, some of the biggest influences were my favorite YA authors like Jennifer Niven, Rainbow Rowell, Kathleen Glasgow, Kerry Kletter, and Amber Smith. Books like All The Bright Places and Girl In Pieces inspired me to tackle tough topics with sensitivity and bravery.  Some of my YA heroes read Where I Live and offered to blurb. I’m forever grateful for these women. 

Recently, I’ve discovered new voices in YA I adore like Tiffany D. Jackson, Rachel Lynn Solomon, and Angelo Surmelis. If you haven’t already, please check them out. 

5) Are you currently working on any new books?

I have a second young adult novel, entitled Since We Last Spoke, slated for April 2019 with HarperTeen that I’m very excited about. You’ll meet Aggi and Max, two teens torn apart by unimaginable pain and guilt over the loss of their siblings. The story is told in dual points of view and focuses on a love that’s desperately trying to survive, in spite of everything coming against it. This story delves into the different layers of grief and how it impacts two families that once loved each other but now point fingers of blame.  


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