Title: SPEED OF LIFE
Author: J.M. Kelly
Pub. Date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Twins Crystal and Amber have the same goal: to be the first in their family to graduate high school and make something of their lives. When one gets pregnant during their junior year, they promise to raise the baby together. It’s not easy, but between their after-school jobs, they’re scraping by.
Crystal’s grades catch the attention of the new guidance counselor, who tells her about a college that offers a degree in automotive restoration, perfect for the car buff she is. When she secretly applies—and gets in—new opportunities threaten their once-certain plans, and Crystal must make a choice: follow her dreams or stay
Why did you choose to have a pregnant character? What message do you hope that sends young readers?
When I was in high school only two girls that I knew of got pregnant. The pregnancy rate was much higher than it is now (we've made progress there) so it's probably safe to say that there were a few I didn't know about and probably a lot of abortions. Back then you could write a poignant story about getting pregnant and the choices that had to be made. Today, when you see so many young moms with their babies, the moment of choice seems like an old-fashioned story to me. But I still wanted to write about what it was like to be a teen motherbecause just because it's more socially acceptable to go through with a pregnancy and keep your baby doesn't mean it's easy. In fact, it's very, very hard.
I was on the train once and a young girl, no more than fourteen or fifteen years old, skipped down the aisle waving at some boys she knew and she called out, "Guess what? I'm preggers!" She was so joyful and I've often wondered how she felt when the real work began. I wanted to show what it's really like to have a baby- the exhaustion, the financial struggles, the personal toll it takes on you whether you have a good support network or none at all. But I also know that many young women do a beautiful, thoughtful job of raising these babies and give them plenty of love, structure and care. I wanted to show them too.
I don't like to think of Crystal and Amber raising Natalie as what the book's about, but just one of the elements of their lives. They deal with poverty, they have jobs with long hours, school is a challenge, their home life isn't very stable, and they happen to have a baby. I think the story is really much more about when do you keep a promise you made and when do you break it? Is it okay to break it if things change? And how do you do that? If the two of them raising a baby gives readers a taste of what it's like to have a baby then that's a bonus. It's not really my job to send anyone a message, but it is my job to write about the kinds of kids that are out there in the world. It's important for them to be represented in YA too. Mostly, I'm just in it to tell the best story I can.
About J.M.: Joëlle Anthony is a writer and sometimes-actress who currently lives on a tiny island in British Columbia with her musician husband, Victor Anthony, and cat, Marley. Her debut novel, Restoring Harmony, was long listed for the American Library Association’s Best New Young Adult Fiction 2010, and chosen as the Feature Title for Cincinnati’s Teen on the Same Page Festival 2012. Her latest release, The Right & the Real also made ALA’s Best YA Fiction list (2012), both from Putnam. She enjoys teaches writing workshops to writers of all ages. Visit her on the web at www.joelleanthony.com Follow her on Twitter @joellewrites
10/3/2017- Curling Up With A Good Book- Interview
10/4/2017- A Dream Within A Dream- Review
10/5/2017- Wandering Bark Books- Excerpt
10/6/2017- Book Wish- Review
10/7/2017- Reviews Coming at YA- Guest Post
10/10/2017- The Best Books Ever- Review
10/11/2017- With Love for Books- Guest Post
10/12/2017- The Phantom Paragrapher- Review
10/13/2017- Lost in Ever After- Interview
10/14/2017- Kayl's Krazy Obession- Review