A Book I Turn to When…

Books can be friends and reminders. We turn to books to learn and sometimes to escape. Books can hold special memories and can be comfort to turn back to.

If you’re like me, these are your favorite books—the rereads you keep coming back to for different reasons. Today I wanted to share with you some of the titles I read over and over again, and why I turn to them.

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Some of my favorite rereads: Everlost by Neal Shusterman, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Selection by Kiera Cass, and Somewhere Only We Know by Bri Marino

A book I turn to when…

…I want to go on an adventureThe Skinjacker Trilogy by Neal Shusterman

The Skinjacker Trilogy—Everlost, Everwild, and Everfound—are incredible books about the world between life and death. The series follows Allie and Nick as they journey through Everlost, and it’s full of so much adventure and imagination that I love turning back to these books.

…I want to escapeThe Selection Series by Kiera Cass

I think I’ve read the original trilogy more times than any other books. I’ve written on here many times how much I love these books. The Selection is simply a fun, swoon-worthy, light read that still packs an emotional punch.

…I want to be inspiredSpeak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak is probably my favorite book ever. This is such a powerful story about rape and healing and finding your voice, and every time I read it I feel so inspired.

…I want to enjoy a classicFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 is my favorite classic novel, and one of only a few classics I actually like. I love turning back to this older book from time to time because it is science fiction at its best.

…I want to encourage myselfSomewhere Only We Know by Bri Marino

Writing can be discouraging work, and if I need inspiration to keep going, what better work to turn back to than my own? Rereading my published book reminds me that I’ve done it before and can do it again.


What are your favorite rereads and why do you keep turning back to them?

Behind the Scenes of Somewhere Only We Know: Trees

In my behind the scenes post on Somewhere Only We Know’s setting, I wrote about how the clearing in the forest’s inspiration came from a classroom rather than nature. Even so, nature has a huge role in my book. Like Frankie, I feel closer to God in nature, and so when I was trying to create a space for all of the girls to come together, a clearing with a tree came to mind.

I know very little about trees, so I didn’t have a specific tree in mind when I first wrote the book. I just pictured it to be big and leafy. I chose which type of tree it was later on when I discovered what the name of one of the main characters— Lindsey—meant: “from the island of linden trees.” I learned that linden trees are large and deciduous, with a sturdy trunk and lots of leaves. A linden tree was the perfect, shady tree I needed for the girls.

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The setting of Somewhere Only We Know was inspired by this walking path by my parents’ house.

Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel Speak was a huge influence on me when writing Somewhere Only We Know. Speak is about a young girl starting high school with everyone hating her because she called the cops at the big party over the summer. What no one knows is that she called because she had been just been raped. And no one knows this because she can’t speak about it. Melinda has trouble talking at all. After her rape, she fell into silence. But then her art teacher assigns her a subject to make art with for the entire school year—trees. Melinda has trouble creating art about trees at first, but she is inspired by her teacher’s words that became the epigraph of my novel, and she finally starts to heal:

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Somewhere Only We Know‘s epigraph, which comes from Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Trees are powerful. Trees are a beautiful part of nature. They are not perfect. They have their scars. But they also provide comfort and shade and homes for animals. Trees show me God, and, in my novel, they show Frankie God as well.

Favorite Book Feature: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

There’s only a few months and a few Favorite Book Features left for the year. October’s featured book is one that was a great source of inspiration for my novel Somewhere Only We Know: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Although most book lovers find it impossible to choose just one favorite book, if I had to, Speak would probably be the one.

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Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

 

Fourteen year old Melinda Sordino called the cops at the end-of-summer party, and as she starts her freshman year of high school no one will talk to her. Her old friends ignore her, and no one else comes near her except a self-centered new girl. But Melinda can’t get herself to talk about what happened the night of the party anyway. She tries so hard to forget it, even though it’s destroying her. Melinda spends the school year trying to draw trees for art class and make it through school without speaking. Because if she speaks, then she’ll have to speak the truth.

Speak is one of those books that stays with you for life. I wish I had heard of this amazing novel sooner, because Anderson is now one of my favorite authors. The best part of Speak is the book’s voice. It’s hard to define voice. Voice is the style something is written in, and when it is good it becomes a work of art. It’s something you know when you see it, and Speak has one of the strongest voices I’ve ever read. I think I like this book so much because I want to write like this. I want to create characters like Melinda who completely draw readers in to their stories. Melinda doesn’t speak much out loud, but in her head she is observant and witty. She has a story to tell, and readers get to hear it even if the people around her don’t.

I also love this book because of its connection to art. Melinda finds that she is able to use art to be able to express herself, even when she can’t find the words. I tried to do something like this in Somewhere Only We Know, but with writing. I love being creative and I make a lot of crafts, but I can’t draw. If I could I’m sure I would turn to art more, but instead I turn to words. And so the girls in my book turned to the written word to figure out other possibilities for their lives. In Speak, it is incredible to watch as Melinda attempts to draw trees and her teacher encourages her to dig deeper. I used a quote about this as the epigraph to my novel:

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The epigraph of my novel, from Speak

I have a great respect for Anderson because she chose to write about such difficult topics like rape and depression. Most people don’t want to talk about it or acknowledge that they happen, and people like to censor books about those topics in order to “protect” children from them. In “A Comment About Censorship” which appears at the end of my copy of Speak, Anderson writes, “Censoring books that deal with difficult, adolescent issues does not protect anybody. Quite the opposite. It leaves kids in the dark and makes them vulnerable… Our children cannot afford to have the truth of the world withheld from them.” A writer friend of mine put it another way when she said we shouldn’t shelter our kids but insulate them.

Teens need books like Speak and Somewhere Only We Know because real teens are experiencing these issues. And I’m going to continue reading and writing books like these.

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I love the message Anderson signs her books with!

Behind the Scenes of Somewhere Only We Know: The Title

There were two sources of inspiration that floated around in my head for a long time before I got around to writing Somewhere Only We Know. The first was the nightmare I wrote about here that gave me the initial conflict of the novel. The second was the song “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane. I first heard the song in the trailer for the Winnie the Pooh movie that came out in 2011. I wasn’t even a fan of Winnie the Pooh, but I watched that trailer so many times because the song entranced me. It was so wonderful to think about going back to a beloved place where you could connect with someone, like audiences could with the Winnie the Pooh stories.

When I had my nightmare, I immediately knew that Somewhere Only We Know was the perfect title. I realized the girls needed a place where they could connect with one another, which became the clearing with the linden tree. I included a tree because of the line in the song about a fallen tree.

The song talks about going back to a familiar place. In my book, Frankie and the girls used to go to this tree all the time to play, but they haven’t in a while—not since their abuse began. The place feels different to them when they finally go back, like in the song when the speaker questions if that is the place they used to love. But it is still a special place that only they know. The song also asks when “you” are going to let the speaker in. In the book, Frankie has trouble getting the other girls to open up about what they are going through.

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Somewhere Only We Know by Bri Marino

I also chose this song to obtain my title because “somewhere only we know” can also refer to the place of violence that only victims of abuse truly understand. Abuse is something you can only really understand if you are a victim yourself or if you’ve talked openly with those who have experienced it. Frankie has trouble talking to people who have not experienced what she has because she doesn’t think they understand. Because of her difficulty, the clearing becomes the only place where she can share what happens to her and try to find healing.

I love the song “Somewhere Only We Know” so much, and I wanted to use a verse of it as the epigraph for my book, but I couldn’t because of rights. I chose instead a quote from Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, a book that inspired me while writing Somewhere Only We Know.

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The epigraph of Somewhere Only We Know, from Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak

 

Even though I couldn’t use the song as my epigraph, I’m glad I was still able to share its title with my book. I hope that people will think about this beautiful song as they read my book.

Laurie Halse Anderson at Books & Co

On Friday I got the chance to meet one of my favorite authors and one of the biggest inspirations on my own writing – Laurie Halse Anderson. She came to Books & Co in Dayton as part of her tour for Ashes, the final book in the Seeds of America trilogy.

I only started reading Anderson’s books a year ago, but I find each one that I read incredible. You can read my posts about them here and here. Her books feel so true to life and have a way of putting a real face and heart-wrenching story on the sometimes undefinable problems that teenagers face today.

I have read seven of her books: Wintergirls; Speak; Catalyst; The Impossible Knife of Memory; Fever, 1793; Twisted; and Prom. Sadly I started reading her books after I became a poor college graduate and newlywed, so I only own two of her books and was only able to get those two signed. But I look forward to owning them all one day and also reading the Seeds of America trilogy. It was awesome hearing her discuss history and how she went about writing these books.

Anderson also shared her writing process and gave one of the best writing tips I’ve heard. When she’s almost done working on a book, she records herself reading it. Then she takes a printed copy to a coffee shop or just someplace different to get a new perspective and she listens to her recording while following along in her printed copy. As I find my ear to work better than my eyes when proofreading and often end up reading aloud anyway, I can’t wait to try this method with my next book.

I was sad that my bookmarks for Somewhere Only We Know haven’t arrived yet because I really wanted to give one to Anderson and thank her for inspiring me. I still thanked her and told her that I used a quote from Speak as the epigraph for my novel. She was so encouraging to both me and my husband (telling him how her husband supports her work) and I am so glad I got to meet her.

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So glad I got to meet one of my favorite authors!

Lastly, I just want to announce that my book is now available for pre-order! You can now pre-order the e-book version from Amazon. Check it out!