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April 2019 Fiction: Young Adult

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When I Was Summer
By (author): J. B. Howard
9780451480200 Hardcover English Young Adult : Age (years) from 12, Grade (US) from 7 YOUNG ADULT FICTION / Performing Arts / Music Apr 30, 2019
$23.99 CAD
Active 5.75 x 8.5 x 1.03 in 304 pages Viking Children's Books Viking Books for Young Readers
A relatable novel about unrequited love, rock ’n’ roll, and what you find when you go searching for yourself.

Sixteen-year-old Nora Wakelin has always felt like an outsider in her own family. Her parents and older sister love her, but they don’t understand anything about her: not her passion for music, not her all-encompassing crush on her bandmate Daniel (who is very much unavailable), not her recklessness and impulsiveness. Nora has always imagined that her biological mother might somehow provide the answer as to why she feels like such an outsider.

Through internet stalking and leaps of logic, Nora identifies three women living elsewhere in California who seem like they could be her biological mother. So she sets out to track them each down, one by one, under the pretense of a statewide tour with her rock band, Blue Miles. Three cities, three gigs, three possible birth mothers—it sounds so easy.

But once they’re on the road, of course, it’s anything but easy. Nora wants to be with Daniel, she wants to find her birth mother, she wants to keep her parents happy, she wants the band to stay together, and she wants to know why she is the way she is. But she won’t be the first musician to find out that, while you can’t always get what you want, sometimes you get what you need.

MUSIC: The perfect book for teens who love reading about or listening to music—the more angsty, the better!

ROMANCE: Nora’s yearning for her unavailable bandmate will be viscerally familiar to anyone with an unrequited crush. As with ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, readers will leave this book feeling like they, too, are in love with the leading man.

ADOPTION: Like 2017’s National Book Award winner FAR FROM THE TREE, this novel handles a story of adoption and searching for a biological family with authenticity and nuance.

ROAD TRIP: Fans of roadtrip books like AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES or AMY & ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR will love feeling like they’re right there in the van, blasting music and bantering with the band as they head to their next gig.

AUTHOR BACKSTORY: In figuring out what path Nora should take toward her birth mother, the author actually managed to find her husband’s birth mother—something he had been working on without success for years. A remarkable publicity angle!

J. B. Howard received her undergraduate degree in theater with minors in music and screenwriting from the University of Southern California. She was a creative writing fellow and received her MFA in fiction from Chapman University in Southern California. She currently teaches creative writing at Chapman University and at the Orange County School of the Arts. Like Nora, she’s a bass player.

Author Residence: Santa Ana, CA

Author Hometown: Misison Viejo, CA

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