Friday, September 14, 2018

Author Spotlight: A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM

Nova Ren Suma is the author of the YA novels THE WALLS AROUND US as well as the YA novels IMAGINARY GIRLS and 17 & GONE, which were both named 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound by YALSA. Her middle-grade novel, DANI NOIR, was reissued for a YA audience under the title FADE OUT. She has a BA in writing & photography from Antioch College and an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and has been awarded fiction fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Millay Colony, and an NEA fellowship for a residency at the Hambidge Center. She worked for years behind the scenes in publishing, at places such as HarperCollins, Penguin, Marvel Comics, and RAW Books, and now she teaches writing workshops. She is from various small towns across the Hudson Valley and lives and writes in New York City.

Find Nova online at novaren.com and on her blog distraction99.com


Title: A Room Away From the Wolves
Genre: Young Adult Magical Realism
Author: Nova Ren Suma
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication: September 4th 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5

A Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma is a deliciously lyrical story about Sabina, Bina for short, and the mystery that surrounds her and her mother's life because of this place called Catherine's House.

The book starts out sort of like a Cinderella story. Bina and her mother ran away from her crazy, abusive father and were trying to hitchhike to NYC when a Jesus fish van pulled up to offer them a ride. What was supposed to be a one night stay before they continued on to NYC turned into a new family situation where Bina got herself a brand new stepfather and two really awful stepsisters. Bina was no angel but her stepsisters were worse and we begin the book with Bina's mother telling her she had to go stay with someone else for a while because of some event's that took place. Bina was being kicked out of her stepfathers home and her mother was letting it happen. It might have started out like a Cinderella story but it definitely doesn't end like one.

Bina never let the idea of going to NYC die in her mind. Her mother had told her stories of this women's safe house she stayed in while she was pursuing her acting career and ever since Bina has wanted to go there. So instead of going to stay with the religious friends her mother picked out, Bina decides to take matters into her own hands and hitchhikes to NYC to go to Catherine's House. A place that was established in the 1920's by a woman who wanted to offer other women a safe place to escape from the world. A place where 14 girls can each have their own room, a room that comes with a lot of rules, but a safe room nonetheless. A place where Bina goes and starts to realize that there is more to this house and Catherine's story than people are telling here. A place where the girls eerily look like girls in photos from previous years. 

Now, if you know me or you have been reading my reviews for a while you will know how much of an aversion I have towards Magical Realism in books. I have read many in hopes that I will find just one book that will change my mind. There is just something about these books that I can never wrap my head around. Things just seem very confusing and they never add up to much by the time I make it to the end of the book. So here I am with yet another Magical Realism book. I actually didn't know that's what it was when I requested Ms. Suma to be on my Author Spotlight. After finding out that the book was MR I got a little bit worried. I have read Imaginary Girls and 17 and Gone by this author and really enjoyed them so I just let my hopes that I would enjoy this book as well carry me through the reading process. And guess what? I actually really liked this book. Maybe because it was spooky? Maybe because the author is a brilliant writer and wove together a story that I actually could follow? Either way, thank you Nova Ren Suma for writing a MR book that I actually enjoyed.

In the end, I am so glad I read this book, not once, but twice. I will definitely be suggesting this to people in the future. Also, I would advise against stealing silver combs from a dead woman! Oh, and never get in the Jesus fish van!

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.



1) What was your inspiration for A Room Away From the Wolves?
So many things that fascinate me ended up in A Room Away from the Wolves: ghost stories and creaky old houses. City dreams and age-old fantasies about running away. Girls who are fascinating enigmas, who pretend to be one thing all the while hiding their true selves. How you can search and search your whole life trying to find a place to belong… and sometimes it ends up not being a place at all, but a person. And finally, how it turns out the one thing you can’t run away from is yourself. That’s a thing I keep living, and it’s also a thing my narrator Bina comes face-to-face within this book.

2) Out of all of your books which one is your personal favorite?
What an evil question! I love every one of my books, and it’s always my most favorite when I’m holding it in my arms, months after finishing it, reeling at the fact that I ever actually did. So the answer is: Right now A Room Away from the Wolves has a fast hold on my heart and is taking up so much of my affection. But I see another book on the horizon… the one I’m working on next. And it’s very, very pretty.

3) If you could bring any of your characters to life who would it be and why?
Monet in A Room Away from the Wolves is a fascinating mystery to me, a puzzle to figure out. I’d love to make her a flesh-and-blood girl and sit her down and ask her a whole bunch of questions. Maybe a new novel would come from the conversation!

4) Do you have any hobbies you can tell us about?
I’m one of those boring writer creatures who thinks about writing all the time, and teaches writing workshops for other writers, and reads books and talks about books and wishes she could take a vacation away from the world just to read more books. I would like to have a different hobby that did not involve words, and I’m searching for what it could be.

5) Are you currently working on any other books?
Always. But I can’t talk about it right now! The next book is a secret I’m keeping cocooned in the dark for a while more… just the two of us. We’re only just getting to know each other.

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