Friday, June 8, 2018

Author Spotlight: The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM

Tara Altebrando is the author of numerous books for young adult and middle-grade readers. Her upcoming book, THE LEAVING (Bloomsbury), is a YA thriller that received a starred PW review and is a Junior Library Guild selection. Her other YA novels include ROOMIES, coauthored with Sara Zarr; Dreamland Social Club (A Kirkus Reviews Best Books for Teens), The Best Night of (Your) Pathetic Life, What Happens Here, and The Pursuit of Happiness.

Tara is a Harvard graduate who lives in Queens, NY, with her husband and children.

Title: The Opposite of Here
Genre: YA Contemporary/Mystery-ish
Author: Tara Altebrando
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication: June 5th 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading format: Provided ARC

The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando is a Young Adult Mystery/Thriller book with a lot of twists and turns and a pretty sad starting point. Natalie has to overcome some pretty heavy stuff at the beginning of the book and we get to see where life tries to take her as she finally starts healing.

Natalie is healing. Well, not so much healing, she is actually still grieving when the book starts. Her boyfriend, Paul, had recently died and she was very much still in mourning. Butttttt… Her family and friends were trying to get her to start moving on so they planned this big cruise for Natalie’s birthday and that kind of means Natalie has to go. I mean, hello, cruise for your birthday!

I thought this book was crazy. First, Natalie loses her boyfriend to an early death and then she goes through the craziness on the cruise? I was wondering how many mirrors this girl had to of broken to get this kind of luck. Did she make a hobby out of walking under ladders and running through a field of black cats? Shew, I am glad I am not her. And then, her one friend, was kind of not the greatest friend. She had this group of three female friends and I just didn’t see that ending well, at all. And guess what, it kind of, sort of, didn’t end very well. 

There was one part of the book that got on my nerves and it had nothing to do with the Mystery plot. It was with Natalie and how easily she forgave someone after a pretty big betrayal. There was this huge lead up to this horrible betrayal and Natalie just forgave the person like it wasn’t a big deal when it truly was. This situation helped Natalie realize some things about herself and made her come to terms with what she really wanted but that still doesn’t excuse what the person did to her or how easily Natalie forgave them. Just a little pet peeve of mine, I guess.

In the end, I enjoyed The Opposite of Here and I think the author did a fantastic job of bringing the mystery to life. I kind of figured if out a little early on but the book was still brilliant and I am glad I read it. There were a few parts that I definitely didn’t guess and that made the book a lot more enjoyable, too.

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars. 

1) Where did the inspiration for The Opposite of Here come from?
Well, I've always loved cruises...but also feared them. There are so many horror stories...of shipborne viruses, and storms, and yes, even people falling overboard. Cruise commercials are all FUN FUN FUN but it's pretty terrifying out there if you stop to think about it, which maybe a lot of people on cruises don't do? I don't know. I sure do. So I liked the idea of setting a book on a cruise—limiting the setting and sort of challenging myself with regard to what can and can't happen over the course of seven days at sea. The idea of a girl who meets a guy who seems too good to be true then disappears seemed like a good fit for the setting. Because, well, where could he be? I started writing to answer that question. There was also a story in the news a few years ago that captured my fascination. It would be spoilery to mention it specifically but there's a ripped-from-the-headlines element that also drove the story when I was writing it. 

2) Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions?
I don't! I'm the opposite of precious about my process. I just get up every day (well, weekdays) and write. Sometimes I listen to music; sometimes I don't. Sometimes I print and read hard copies; sometimes I don't. Sometimes my desk is a mess; sometimes not. I usually have the title of what I'm working on up on one of those little cinema lightboxes, but that's just for fun. For a while, when I first got the lightbox, I would turn it on whenever I was working but somehow it got unplugged to plug in a new monitor I got and I haven't bothered to re-run the cord. 

3) Out of all of your books, which one has been your favorite to write?(My favorite to read has been The Leaving.)
Well, THE LEAVING was fun to write in some ways--mostly when I decided to do all sorts of neat things with type and fonts and white space—but mostly not. The premise came from my daughter, who was five years old at the time, but it took a long and torturous few years for me to figure out how to build a book around it. So my favorite book to write was probably Dreamland Social Club, from 2011. That book is set on Coney Island in Brooklyn, home of the first ever amusement parks, and the research was endlessly fascinating. It was also the first young adult book I wrote where I felt like I was breaking away from straight contemporary realistic coming-of-age stories and doing something that felt a bit more unique—like writing a book that only I could write. (It features a cast of modern-day "freaks.") I'm actually dying to revisit that story and turn it into a graphic novel. Unfortunately, I can't draw. 

4) What Hogwarts house are you in?
I always say Gryffindor, so I can hang with Hermoine, but I have to admit I haven't even read all the Potter books. I know that's probably considered sacrilege (my ten-year-old daughter certainly thinks so) but I've talked to at least a handful of other writers who haven't read them all and never really thought of identifying ourselves with that world in that way. Maybe what I'm saying is that I'm old! :)

5) Are you currently working on anything new?
I am! I'm on deadline! The book doesn't have a title yet and I'm not ready quite to talk about it (so maybe I am a little superstitious?) but if you liked The Leaving, it should appeal to you because it's also super creepy. Look for it some time in 2019!


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