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Marti

Check out AMERICAN BETIYA!

I’m glad that YA books are read by people way past their teenage years because there’s so much in American Betiya that informs and enlightens people like me (who have such a different life experience) about what it’s like to be a young woman of colour straddling different cultures. Anuradha Rajurkar has written a thoughtful, complex book that gives valuable insights into the struggles many people feel as they forge an identity in a world that keeps foisting stereotypes and expectations onto them. 

Rajurkar’s heroine, Rani, is at once an American girl in her last year of high school and the daughter of parents from India whose ambitions for her include respecting (and largely adhering to) the culture from which they originate. They see America as a great land of opportunity and have worked incredibly hard to forge a life for themselves there, and they expect certain things from their daughter.

But America means something different to Rani’s parents than it does to her. It’s almost as though America is her parent’s home away from home. But for Rani, America is her country. She’s an American girl…or maybe an American betiya is a better description: the beloved daughter of her country of origin, but with an Indian side, too. 

India is a huge part of Rani, but it’s a part, not all, and she’s learning how to manage the balance of both identities when the sudden appearance of Oliver throws everything into confusion. Oliver is a white boy from a complicated American family with troubles of its own — and loving him as she does puts Rani under new pressure.

Rani describes the passion she feels for Oliver as a “frisson”, a secret and exciting ingredient to a highly charged sexual relationship. Artistic, expressive and very different from Rani’s family, it’s easy to see why she finds him difficult to resist. But from the start, there’s something quite wrong about their relationship and much of the book is about identifying the strange mixture of admiration, obsession and resentment that Oliver has for Rani’s family’s culture. He both loves it and hates it, but the most obvious thing is that he’s disrespectful of its true meaning to her and hasn’t made enough effort to understand it. I found some of his odd behaviour toward Rani’s family disturbing, but I also understood Rani’s attempts to brush off his remarks and demands, or see them as less menacing than they were.

Rani knows about these problems and, yet, her attraction for Oliver and her desire to overlook what (in retrospect) clearly not going to work between them, weakens her resolve. She even finds herself participating in Oliver’s bizarre fetishism of her culture, which is uncomfortable to read but wonderfully portrayed in the book. Oliver’s microaggressions start off as annoying and then grow, and the unfolding of their relationship provides a valuable look into a subjectivity I was grateful to experience. 

The portrait of Rani’s loving, if sometimes overbearing, family is nuanced and affectionate. Oliver is a less attractive prospect to this middle-aged reader than he will likely be to the teenagers for whom the novel is intended (I wanted to sit that young man down!). Anuradha Rajurkar’s writing is full of authority and she handles complex subjects with grace.

Take My Advice (my article in Booksbywomen)

February 23, 2021 | By Marti Leimbach | Reply

 

 

I remember as a child my mother listing a whole bunch of first lines from bestselling books.

“The primroses were over,” she announced theatrically, referring to the opening to Watership Down. 

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” she said, quoting from Anna Karenina. I thought she’d come up with this idea herself, so I asked, “Are we unhappy in our own way?”

She dragged deeply from her cigarette, exhaled, then swatted at the smoke. “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

I held out an ashtray for the length of ash bowing down from her cigarette and she dutifully tapped. 

“Mother, I don’t know what you are saying,” I admitted.

“Bestsellers,” she said by way of explanation. “You need a great first line.”

My mother, a journalist, spent her life at the typewriter, so her advice on writing felt credible.  I nodded, believing her when she said that bestsellers required a single mesmerizing first line that signalled an unaccountable genius that would bring readers to their knees….

Full article here: Advice on Writing Advice

 

original artwork for this post by Shon Ejai, on pixabay

Read A Book Review: What Beauty There Is

I loved Cory Anderson’s, What Beauty There Is, a young adult/adult crossover thriller about Jack Morton, a 17-year old in a remote area of Idaho, who discovers his mother’s suicide, only fifteen dollars in the kitty, and the likelihood of his younger brother going into foster care unless he comes up with a way to support him. 

After dealing with the body, Jack’s first instinct is to get a job – and fast, too, before all the money runs out. However, in the small rural town in which he lives, his employment prospects are low, not because he isn’t a hard worker, but due to the reputation his father, currently serving time in the state prison, and his mother who was a drug addict. His family name is tarnished. No one will hire him.

In desperation, Jack resorts to searching for drug money rumored to have been hidden by his father before he went to prison. Setting out to find the money, ignites every kind of danger for Jack and his brother, who draw the attention of his father’s bitter rival, Victor Bardem, who is after the same treasure. 

Bardem is a dangerous, relentless killer whose capacity for violence feels limitless. The only small spot left in his heart is for his daughter, Ava, aged seventeen. Ava lives in fear of her father who controls her in every way. Ava teams up with Jack, not because she has designs on the money, but to try to protect him from her father, who she understands in a way that Jack cannot. In doing so, she incurs the wrath of her father, who will not tolerate such disloyalty. The central question of the novel is will Jack and Matty find the money and get out before Bardem tracks them down and kills them both? And will Ava abandon her father and his deadly control in search of a better life?

Anderson’s impressive debut is atmospheric and engaging. The ghastly suicide sets off in motion a series of dramatic events that makes for a thrilling, if painful story. Anderson’s book may remind a reader of No Country For Old Men in its cadence and tone, not to mention the subject matter involving the pursuit of illegal drug money and a ruthless killer willing to do anything in order to make sure he gets the money instead of the main character, Jack. 

There are some wonderful sentence-to-sentence descriptions, too. Anderson is best when she sticks to the simple but precise details that are unique to these people’s lives and thoughts. Her descriptions of Ava’s early hunting lessons, her care with which she depicts Jack’s love for his little brother, and the attention to detail to the landscape of the locale, is all excellent. Elmore Leonard once wrote, “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it” and I admit that occasionally the prose in What Beauty There Is may sound self-conscious. However, my view on such matters is minor compared to the overall excellence in this richly described text with its depiction of teenagers in the most dire of circumstances, imprisoned by circumstance, and desperately alone. 

I anticipate great things from this talented new writer and look forward to the next book.

Many thanks to TheWriteReads for including me on the blog tour of Cory Anderson’s chilling and utterly absorbing debut!

Website: https://coryanderson.us/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/coryanderwr…
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3fF6i6z
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3wswast

Find out What’s Haunting Me (a Caroline Leavitt Interview)

Every writer wants to be interviewed by Caroline Leavitt. This New York Times bestselling author is a great friend to other authors, always interviewing them, asking them interesting questions and being basically the nicest human in the world. So, of course, I was thrilled when Caroline wanted to read DRAGONFLY GIRL and ask me some questions!

Here’s the beginning of the chat with a link if you want to skip ahead to Caroline’s great blog and read it all there!

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A YA that celebrates science! Marti Leimbach talks about DRAGONFLY GIRL, a heroine who finds the cure for death and what was obsessing her in the writing.

What is more exciting than a YA novel about science featuring a science-loving girl who has found the cure for death? Called a YA thriller for people who loved The Queen’s Gambit (and who didn’t, I ask you?) Dragonfly Girl makes the astonishing, the magical, seem possible. School Library Journal calls it “thrilling, with a heroine to root for.”

I first heard about Marti Leimbach because she wrote the international bestseller, DYING YOUNG, which was made into a blockbuster movie. She’s also the author of The Man From Saigon and Daniel Isn’t Talking, and she is a core tutor at oxford University’s creative writing program.  Also, I would be amiss if I didn’t mention RATS: Marti breeds them as part of the National Fancy Rat Society. But most importantly to me, Marti and I became friends and I adore her. Thank you so much, Marti for writing something for my Nothing is Cancelled Book Tour blog.

What was haunting you in writing this book? Like my 17-year old heroine, Kira, in Dragonfly Girl, I like reading science research papers. I worry a little that whatever medical treatment I learn about won’t arrive soon enough for me, or be affordable. So I read these papers with a mixture of hope and dread, certain that I or someone dear to me might die of something that, in the near future, will be totally treatable. 

Still under the general heading of “haunting” let’s add….read more here

Write it on the wall

About the book:

Things aren’t going well for Kira.

At home, she cares for her mother and fends off debt collectors. At school, she’s awkward and shy. Plus, she may flunk out if she doesn’t stop obsessing about science, her passion and the one thing she’s good at . . . very good at.

But when she wins a prestigious science contest she draws the attention of the celebrated professor Dr. Gregory Munn (as well as his handsome assistant), leading to a part-time job in a top-secret laboratory.

The job is mostly cleaning floors and equipment, but one night, while running her own experiment, she revives a lab rat that has died in her care.

One minute it is dead, the next it is not.

In this spellbinding thriller and YA debut from bestselling author Marti Leimbach, Kira Adams has discovered a cure for death—and it may just cost her life.

Reviews:

“Leimbach imbues her story with a love of science, as Kira latches on to real scientific principles, discoveries, and fun facts in her quest to make an impact in the scientific world. Kira is easy to root for as she tackles life’s hurdles. Readers . . . will appreciate the unpredictability of the story that allows for satisfying plot twists that keep the pages turning, and the planned second book . . . is sure to be thrilling.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books 

“This is a compelling YA debut from the internationally bestselling Leimbach. All the characters have depth, especially Kira, whose growth will entice readers to invest in her struggles and cheer for her successes. Leimbach also handles the science well, explaining what is happening without letting it slow down the action, focusing more on the characters’ emotions than the scientific procedures. VERDICT A thrilling debut with a heroine to root for and an excellent story that will keep surprising readers.” — School Library Journal

“. . . The fast pace and high stakes are engaging . . . An exciting adventure about a girl in STEM . . . ” 

— Kirkus Reviews

“Dragonfly Girl is unlike any other book I have read. The plot is taut and devilishly cunning, the science behind the story is brilliantly researched, and the writing pulls you in and doesn’t let go until the very last page. You’ll find yourself aching for the heroine’s hardships at first, before suddenly being whisked off into a heart-thumping adventure that will leave you breathless. THIS BOOK SLAPS.” — Jesse Q Sutanto, the author of Dial A for Aunties 

“Marti Leimbach has written an intriguing and thrilling novel that could very well entice readers to take a closer look at careers in science, while entertaining them along the way with astonishing facts.” — Todd Strasser, author of The Wave, Fallout and many other novels for young adults 

“Dragonfly Girl is a uniquely smart book, with a story you will not see coming, and characters that ring true. Readers will be challenged and delighted. Invest some time in Dragonfly Girl and let author Marti Leimbach take you on a surprising, utterly original ride. I loved it!” — Michael Grant, bestselling author of the GONE series

Pick the blue one…

About the book:

Things aren’t going well for Kira. 

At home, she cares for her mother and fends off debt collectors. At school, she’s awkward and shy. Plus, she may flunk out if she doesn’t stop obsessing about science, her passion and the one thing she’s good at . . . very good at. 

But when she wins a prestigious science contest she draws the attention of the celebrated professor Dr. Gregory Munn (as well as his handsome assistant), leading to a part-time job in a top-secret laboratory. 

The job is mostly cleaning floors and equipment, but one night, while running her own experiment, she revives a lab rat that has died in her care. 

One minute it is dead, the next it is not. 

In this spellbinding thriller and YA debut from bestselling author Marti Leimbach, Kira Adams has discovered a cure for death—and it may just cost her life.

Reviews:

“Leimbach imbues her story with a love of science, as Kira latches on to real scientific principles, discoveries, and fun facts in her quest to make an impact in the scientific world. Kira is easy to root for as she tackles life’s hurdles. Readers . . . will appreciate the unpredictability of the story that allows for satisfying plot twists that keep the pages turning, and the planned second book . . . is sure to be thrilling.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“This is a compelling YA debut from the internationally bestselling Leimbach. All the characters have depth, especially Kira, whose growth will entice readers to invest in her struggles and cheer for her successes. Leimbach also handles the science well, explaining what is happening without letting it slow down the action, focusing more on the characters’ emotions than the scientific procedures. VERDICT A thrilling debut with a heroine to root for and an excellent story that will keep surprising readers.” — School Library Journal

“. . . The fast pace and high stakes are engaging . . . An exciting adventure about a girl in STEM . . . ”

— Kirkus Reviews

“Dragonfly Girl is unlike any other book I have read. The plot is taut and devilishly cunning, the science behind the story is brilliantly researched, and the writing pulls you in and doesn’t let go until the very last page. You’ll find yourself aching for the heroine’s hardships at first, before suddenly being whisked off into a heart-thumping adventure that will leave you breathless. THIS BOOK SLAPS.” — Jesse Q Sutanto, the author of Dial A for Aunties

“Marti Leimbach has written an intriguing and thrilling novel that could very well entice readers to take a closer look at careers in science, while entertaining them along the way with astonishing facts.” — Todd Strasser, author of The Wave, Fallout and many other novels for young adults

“Dragonfly Girl is a uniquely smart book, with a story you will not see coming, and characters that ring true. Readers will be challenged and delighted. Invest some time in Dragonfly Girl and let author Marti Leimbach take you on a surprising, utterly original ride. I loved it!” — Michael Grant, bestselling author of the GONE series

See It Through My Eyes

About the book:

Things aren’t going well for Kira. 

At home, she cares for her mother and fends off debt collectors. At school, she’s awkward and shy. Plus, she may flunk out if she doesn’t stop obsessing about science, her passion and the one thing she’s good at . . . very good at. 

But when she wins a prestigious science contest she draws the attention of the celebrated professor Dr. Gregory Munn (as well as his handsome assistant), leading to a part-time job in a top-secret laboratory. 

The job is mostly cleaning floors and equipment, but one night, while running her own experiment, she revives a lab rat that has died in her care. 

One minute it is dead, the next it is not. 

In this spellbinding thriller and YA debut from bestselling author Marti Leimbach, Kira Adams has discovered a cure for death—and it may just cost her life.

Reviews

“Leimbach imbues her story with a love of science, as Kira latches on to real scientific principles, discoveries, and fun facts in her quest to make an impact in the scientific world. Kira is easy to root for as she tackles life’s hurdles. Readers . . . will appreciate the unpredictability of the story that allows for satisfying plot twists that keep the pages turning, and the planned second book . . . is sure to be thrilling.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books 

“This is a compelling YA debut from the internationally bestselling Leimbach. All the characters have depth, especially Kira, whose growth will entice readers to invest in her struggles and cheer for her successes. Leimbach also handles the science well, explaining what is happening without letting it slow down the action, focusing more on the characters’ emotions than the scientific procedures. VERDICT A thrilling debut with a heroine to root for and an excellent story that will keep surprising readers.” — School Library Journal

“. . . The fast pace and high stakes are engaging . . . An exciting adventure about a girl in STEM . . . ” 

— Kirkus Reviews

“Dragonfly Girl is unlike any other book I have read. The plot is taut and devilishly cunning, the science behind the story is brilliantly researched, and the writing pulls you in and doesn’t let go until the very last page. You’ll find yourself aching for the heroine’s hardships at first, before suddenly being whisked off into a heart-thumping adventure that will leave you breathless. THIS BOOK SLAPS.” — Jesse Q Sutanto, the author of Dial A for Aunties 

“Marti Leimbach has written an intriguing and thrilling novel that could very well entice readers to take a closer look at careers in science, while entertaining them along the way with astonishing facts.” — Todd Strasser, author of The Wave, Fallout and many other novels for young adults 

“Dragonfly Girl is a uniquely smart book, with a story you will not see coming, and characters that ring true. Readers will be challenged and delighted. Invest some time in Dragonfly Girl and let author Marti Leimbach take you on a surprising, utterly original ride. I loved it!” — Michael Grant, bestselling author of the GONE series

Read for free…

It’s only two weeks until DRAGONFLY GIRL is released, but the good people at Epic Reads have a preview of the first three chapters! Just click on this link to get a sneak preview!

Learn 3 Ways DRAGONFLY GIRL Encourages Girls In STEM

It challenges stereotypes

The clever protagonist in Dragonfly Girl, with a head for math and science, is a high school girl. Not only that, she’s a high school girl who wants to be liked, to wear nice clothes, to go to dances and be part of a friendship group just like any other girl.

Her best friend, also interested in science, is a popular, pretty and much admired by everyone – especially boys.

When Kira meets other adult scientists, there is an even distribution of men and woman.

By presenting a diverse group of girls and women as scientists, Dragonfly Girl challenges what educator Carly Berwick describes as “the persistent subconscious images of male mathematicians and scientists that…may be one explanation why girls enter STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – at dramatically lower rates than boys.” 

According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, girls and boys perform similarly STEM related subjects on standardized tests. However, larger gaps exist between students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds or family income.” from lower income families were less likely to take advanced science courses. In part, the disparity is due to a perception of who belongs in sciences. In Dragonfly Girl, the main character is the daughter of a single parent with a chronic, critical illness. When (eventually) she gets an after-school job in a laboratory, some of her young colleagues are women of color. 

It shifts perceptions about who belongs in science

According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, girls and boys perform similarly STEM related subjects on standardized tests. However, “larger gaps exist between students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds or family income.” from lower income families were less likely to take advanced science courses. In part, the disparity is due to a perception of who belongs in sciences. In Dragonfly Girl, the main character is the daughter of a single parent with a chronic, critical illness that means the family is in debt. In the course of the book, not only does the heroine meet women in science but also men and women of color in science.

It may even raise girls’ test scores

Studies show that giving high school girls images of female scientists resulted in higher performance by these students. For example, this study showed that  “female students had higher comprehension after viewing counter-stereotypic images (female scientists)” in their textbooks and study materials.Studies show that giving high school girls images of female scientists resulted in higher performance by these students.