Welcome to Day #5 of The Summer of Broken Things Blog Tour!
To celebrate the release of The Summer of Broken Things on April 10th, blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Margaret Peterson Haddix and 10 chances to win a copy of the book!
From New York Times bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix comes a haunting novel about friendship and what it really means to be a family in the face of lies and betrayal.
Fourteen-year-old Avery Armisted is athletic, rich, and pretty. Sixteen-year-old Kayla Butts is known as “butt-girl” at school. The two girls were friends as little kids, but that’s ancient history now. So it’s a huge surprise when Avery’s father offers to bring Kayla along on a summer trip to Spain. Avery is horrified that her father thinks he can choose her friends—and make her miss soccer camp. Kayla struggles just to imagine leaving the confines of her small town.
But in Spain, the two uncover a secret their families had hidden from both of them their entire lives. Maybe the girls can put aside their differences and work through it together. Or maybe the lies and betrayal will only push them—and their families—farther apart.
Margaret Peterson Haddix weaves together two completely separate lives in this engaging novel that explores what it really means to be a family—and what to do when it’s all falling apart.
Sometimes books are the best medicine.
I knew this instinctively as a kid, when I often retreated into books when I was sad or upset, angry or anguished. Sometimes the books were only an escape; other times, even as they consoled me, they also empowered, emboldened, or, yes, helped heal me. If my favorite fictional characters could survive their much more dramatic—and traumatic—lives, then maybe I could cope, too.
But I have to confess that I didn’t know the term “bibliotherapy” until after I’d written books that were being used in bibliotherapy.
Because of privacy concerns, I’m certain I don’t know even a fraction of the ways my books have been used to help kids solve their personal problems while undergoing therapy or in less-formal settings. And that’s fine. But based on what I do hear from readers and the adults trying to help them, I’m guessing the book of mine that’s been used the most in bibliotherapy is Don’t You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey.
One of the best responses I ever heard to that book was when a middle school teacher told me of reading it to her special education class. Soon after the class heard the chapter where the main character, Tish, finally seeks help for her difficult family situation by writing a letter to her teacher, the real-life teacher found a lengthy, painstakingly written letter on her own desk from a girl in her class.
Unbeknownst to the teacher—until then--the girl was also dealing with an awful family situation, and the girl had felt completely stymied and trapped, thinking she had nowhere to turn. She didn’t feel that it was possible to tell the teacher or anyone else outright. And because of her learning difficulties, she wouldn’t have thought of writing as a way out on her own. But with Tish’s example, the teacher said, the girl was able to seek help. And the teacher was able to provide it.
Obviously in that tale the teacher was a much bigger hero than my book was—she was the one who provided the help; she was the one the girl ultimately trusted. The girl also deserves a great deal of credit for mustering the courage to speak out. And maybe she eventually would have found a way out even without a fictional role model.
But I was so glad to hear that my book played any part in helping that girl escape a bad situation; I’m delighted to hear of any of my books playing that kind of role.
From the beginning of my writing career, I naturally wanted to depict kids dealing with fictional problems as realistically as possible. But the more I heard of my books being used as bibliotherapy, the more I felt that I had an intense responsibility to do so. If kids see realistic depictions of other kids dealing with problems like theirs in books, they’re more likely to view the solutions the fictional characters find as realistic, and possibly feasible for themselves as well. Conversely, I fear that unrealistic depictions of fictional characters finding too-easy solutions can be damaging.
When I began plotting my latest book, THE SUMMER OF BROKEN THINGS, I knew I wanted to tell of two girls whose supposedly carefree trip to Spain is upended when they find out a secret that their families have kept from them their entire lives—a secret that, to varying degrees, also upends the way each girl views herself. Since the secret was not based on anything I’d personally experienced, I did a lot of research to try to depict it accurately, especially by talking to psychologists who deal with patients involved in similar situations.
One psychologist in particular was especially helpful, even going so far as to read my book in a near-final draft to give me additional advice. As I thanked her profusely, she reminded me that she was helping me do my job so she and other psychologists could do their jobs better, too. To the best of her knowledge, my book is the first for teens about kids dealing with that particularly issue, and she saw an increasing need.
I do realize it can be dangerous for authors to get too invested in seeing their books as potentially therapeutic: I’m not sure there’s a faster way to destroy kids’ interest in a book than telling them, “This is going to be good for you!”
So I’m a firm believer in the idea that an author’s first responsibility is to tell a good story. But I think it’s good stories that kids respond to the most.
And with SUMMER OF BROKEN THINGS, the more I understood the psychological underpinnings of Avery’s and Kayla’s situations, the better I was at visualizing and telling their story.
And that’s good for everyone.
Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed YA and middle grade novels, including the Children of Exile series, The Missing series, the Under Their Skin series, and the Shadow Children series. A graduate of Miami University (of Ohio), she worked for several years as a reporter for The Indianapolis News. She also taught at the Danville (Illinois) Area Community College. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio.
I'm going to make entering this giveaway an easy one - just leave a thoughtful comment and a way to get in touch with you if you're the winner!
Blog Tour Schedule:
April 16th — BookhoundsYA
April 17th — The Book Rat
April 18th — Book Briefs
April 19th — Parajunkee
April 20th — A Dream Within a Dream
April 23rd — Crossroad Reviews
April 24th — I Am a Reader
April 25th — Page Turners
April 26th — Once Upon a Twilight
April 27th — Tales of the Ravenous Reader