This is a story about a fifty-something-year-old man who never liked to read until I got him started on YA.
We always joked that my dad's programming manuals were really interesting reads. "Look!" he'd say, "It's Revenge of C++!" But aside from a novel here and there over the years, he genuinely didn't enjoy reading and would never choose to read over some other method of entertainment. (Although he was infinitely supportive of his kids' love of reading, practically bankrupting himself to fund our voracious habits.) Fact of the matter was, reading just wasn't fun to him.
Until we got him started on YA. I think it was Hunger Games that really sucked him in, but since then he's devoured all sorts of authors, everything from YA fantasy to contemporary romantic comedies. (He recently read Stephanie Perkins' ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, and I think he might want to see that as a movie more than he wants to see Paranormalcy.) I can't tell you how much fun it is to be able to sit and talk books with my dad.
But the coolest story of all, I think, was when he read IF I STAY because of my recommendation. He loved it (of course) and so I tweeted the author, Gayle Forman, about how my dad loved her book so much he tried to get me to sneak him an ARC of the sequel, WHERE SHE WENT, before I had to return it to a friend. Gayle (being incredibly awesome) was so delighted by another author's dad loving her stuff that she had Penguin send him an ARC of his very own.
How. Cool. Is. That.
I love that story because it's awesome on so many levels. Seeing my non-reader dad so excited to read a book by an author I'd introduced him to. Seeing that author excited about my dad's excitement and going out of her way to get him a copy. Having that copy now to give to you.
Wait, what's that?
OH YES. In honor of YA being the cure for reluctant readers of any and all ages, I'm giving away an ARC of WHERE SHE WENT!
A little background: This is a sequel to IF I STAY, which, if you haven't read it, ohmygoshwhynotdoitrightnow. IF I STAY is one of my go-to recommendations. Many books I will or won't recommend depending on who I am talking to, but I always, always recommend IF I STAY (as long as I'm not talking to, you know, a twelve-year-old, as this is older YA). I think it's one of the most perfectly crafted and stirringly told books I've ever read. I love it.
I love it.
Oh, wait, again? I love it.
So when I heard there was going to be a sequel told from Adam's point of view, I was, quite frankly, terrified. I didn't want IF I STAY to be changed for me. It was such a perfect book that the idea of knowing what happened next--aside from what happened in my head where I had already decided what happened--made me nervous. I didn't know how Gayle could possibly follow it up.
Oh, she so did. I think what I admire most about her writing is that she tells hard stories. She doesn't shy away from difficult, heart-wrenching subjects. She doesn't stay with safe stories. Hers are complex and complicated and utterly full of life. The emotional journey isn't easy, but it's always redemptive and leaves me feeling fuller than I was before. I love her writing. It's kind of ridiculous how much I love her writing.
Needless to say, WHERE SHE WENT did not disappoint in the least. I won't share any more of my thoughts on it so as to avoid spoilers, but trust me when I say: you want this book.
Ahem. Which is where we get to the whole winning it part! To win, simply leave me a comment telling me an author who writes hard stories and does so with honesty and grace. My entry, obviously, is Gayle Forman.
You have until Thursday. Open to US residents only (sorry, too many packages to mail lately!), please feel free to post and tweet about the contest, and good luck!
UPDATE: The winner has been announced! Congratulations, Katy Upperman, and thanks to everyone who entered. Good news is, you can all buy it this April!