Students Want to Know Sarah Tregay

Sarah TregayI have **THIS MUCH** love for Sarah Tregay’s debut Love and Leftovers, so I was beyond excited when she volunteered to be interviewed by my students.  And I may be biased since these are my students, but I think they asked some pretty good questions 🙂

Summary (From Goodreads):

My wish
is to fall
cranium over Converse
in dizzy, daydream-worthy
love.

(If only it were that easy.)

When her parents split, Marcie is dragged from Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. She leaves behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father. By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this “vacation” has become permanent. She starts at a new school where a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up.

But understanding love, especially when you’ve watched your parents’ affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? Can you even know it until you’ve lost it?

** Sarah Tregay’s Website **
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** Love and Leftovers is available in stores! **

Allison:

  • Was writing in verse difficult or do you prefer it?
    Marcie’s character fit well with the verse format, as did her story, so writing LOVE AND LEFTOVERS in verse felt very natural.
    Verse has some challenges, but that’s what makes it interesting to write. For instance, when I went from 8.5×11 paper (for the manuscript) to the smaller page size (for the book) I had to edit some lines so they’d fit. On the other hand, verse can be easier than prose in the rewriting/revising stages because you change the order of the poems without much editing. I enjoy writing—and reading—novels in verse.

Delia:

  • Why did you choose to write a long distance love story?
    Before I wrote LOVE AND LEFTOVERS, I had written a handful of manuscripts that didn’t sell. My friends said these stories were “too quiet.” (They were nice enough not to call them boring.) So When I was thinking about LOVE AND LEFTOVERS, I made a list of very bad things that could happen to my main character because I wanted the stakes to be high and the story interesting. Being away from friends was on that list, and Marcie being away from her boyfriend, Linus, added to her loneliness and upped the stakes.

Sarah W:

  • Do you plan on writing more books?  If so, are they going to all be in verse?
    I’m working on another novel or two, but they may not end up in verse. My editor asked for me to try one of them in prose instead. It’s an experiment, so I guess we’ll have to see how it goes.

Morgan:

  • Why are some of the kids called leftovers?  Were you considered a leftover?
    The Leftovers are a group of friends that don’t fit into the usual cliques in their high school, for example, one is an athlete who also gets good grades, another is a girl scout, and three are in a band. My friends at my lunch table in high school didn’t call ourselves “leftovers”, but we were a hodgepodge mix of AP students and students who were scraping by with Cs, field hockey players, photographers, and musicians.

Jordin:

  • How do you manage to say and mean so much with so little written (referring to verse)?
    I think with verse a writer can lean on the reader a little more than in prose. Each reader brings their own feelings and experiences with them when they read a book and an author can tap into these emotions without explaining every minute detail by using word choice, turns of phrase, and even white space. Verse definitely has the “read between the lines” aspect where a reader uses a combination of their own experiences and imagination to fill in the spaces. So in some ways, reading a novel in verse is a collaboration between the author and the reader.

In Honor of National Poetry Month: Verse Novels Worth Reading

We’re nearing the end of National Poetry Month, so I found it fitting to write a post featuring my favorite verse novels.  If you haven’t read many verse novels, or any at all, you might want to view this post as a verse novels starter kit.  I’ll admit verse novels aren’t for everyone, but when they’re done well it might surprise you when you find yourself attached to a character or moved by the imagery created through so few words.

My first novel in verse was Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff (Goodreads), which I read for my college Young Adult Lit class.  It’s been a few years since I’ve read that book, but I still love it and remember it vividly.  From there I started reading Ellen Hopkins’ books which began with Crank (Goodreads).  I moved on to Sonya Sones (her books on Goodreads) next.  Once I started reading verse novels I was on a mission to find more, not only because I adore them, but because they soon became very popular in my classroom.  For struggling readers, being able to conquer one of Ellen Hopkins’ books is like a point of pride because they’re “such big books.”  And I don’t say that to demean their experience; I say that because her books, along with other verse novels, create more confident readers.

The list I’m providing is here because I love these novels and want to promote them.  It’s also here because I hope more readers will give verse novels a chance.  This list will also help fill in some gaps for those who already read and love novels in verse.  If you have some recommendations please share them in the comments! 🙂

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder (Goodreads) (My Review): This was the first book I read by Lisa Schroeder.  I read it in one sitting and was completely awed by her writing.  I still need to read Far From You, but I’ve read all of her other books.  I’ll continue to read every book she writes because she’s so incredibly talented.

Sold by Patricia McCormick (Goodreads): I read Sold before I started teaching, so I don’t have a review for it.  Patricia McCormick is one of my favorite authors because she spends so much time researching the topic for her novels.  Consequently, she creates powerful novels that stick with you for some time after finishing one of her books, much like Sold did.  It’s written in vignettes and packs a quite the emotional punch.

Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay (Goodreads) (My Review): What a debut!  I hope Sarah Tregay writes more novels in verse because I adored Love & Leftovers, and if the fact that I haven’t seen it in my classroom for months means anything, my students love this debut as well.  Sarah Tregay took a familiar topic (exploring love and friendship) and created it into a verse novel that’s both humorous and touching.  Love & Leftovers has been featured all over my blog via my review, a student review, and more so I really hope you read this one.

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus (Goodreads) (My Review): This novel is hard to discuss without spoilers.  I can say, however, that when I read Exposed I often thought of different books written by Ellen Hopkins.  I’ve handed Kimberly Marcus’s debut to my Hopkins fans and received positive feedback.  I’ve also used Exposed as a stepping stone to Ellen Hopkins which has gone over well also.  Regardless, it’s a fantastic and powerful novel about friendship, family, and loyalty.

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (Goodreads): Thanhha Lai has received some well-deserved recognition including the National Book Award and as a Newberry Honor Book.  Inside Out & Back Again is a story of overcoming adversity, discovering a new world, and the importance of family.  It’s a book that both middle grade and young adult readers will appreciate because despite the age and circumstance of the main character, many of us have felt different and misunderstood.  It’s a beautiful novel and certainly one worth reading.

** More Verse Novels Worth Reading **

The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan (Goodreads)

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Goodreads)

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose (Goodreads)

Review: Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

Sarah Tregay Love & Leftovers

448 pp.  Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)

Release Date: December 27, 2011

Interest: Debut Author / Verse Novel

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

My wish is to fall cranium over Converse in dizzy daydream-worthy love.

(If only it were that easy.)

Marcie has been dragged away from home for the summer—from Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. She’s left behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father.

By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this “summer vacation” has become permanent. She has to start at a new school, and there she leaves behind her Leftover status when a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up. But understanding love, especially when you’ve watched your parents’ affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? Can you even know it until you’ve lost it?

Love & Leftovers is a beautifully written story of one girl’s journey navigating family, friends, and love, and a compelling and sexy read that teens will gobble up whole.

I always enjoy a well-written verse novel.  Some authors have a better knack for it than others; Sarah Tregay is one of those authors.  Love & Leftovers is an excellent and enjoyable debut verse novel that my students will love.

Marcie’s life has been turned upside down.  Her mother is moving her from Idaho to New Hampshire for the summer, but that becomes more permanent.  She’s away from her father and her boyfriend and her friends.  How does a teenager cope with such a sudden, life changing move?  It’s not easy for adults to endure, let alone teens.  Marcie’s mother is depressed, which has left Marcie pretty much on her own and being the adult all while trying to cope with these changes.  She feels alone and misses her life back in Idaho.

Marcie’s adorable boyfriend Linus misses her greatly and wants to make this long-distant relationship work.  I don’t know if many teens will relate to the long-distance relationship, but I know many will relate to Marcie’s uncertainty about love and what it is.  I remember thinking about this often when I was a teenager, even more when I was in college.  While Marcie is trying to regain some semblance of normal in New Hampshire, she meets the attractive and athletic J.D.  If she wasn’t doubting what love is like before, she certainly does when she meets and starts falling for J.D.  Questions about loyalty and betrayal become big issues in this first part of Love & Leftovers.  How far is too far with J.D.?  Is she betraying Linus?  Should she break it off with Linus?  Marcie’s exploration of love and lust and sexuality left me so impressed with Sarah Tregay.  It’s normal for girls to have feelings like Marcie does, and Love & Leftovers opens this up for girls to understand and relate to.

Not only was I impressed with Sarah Tregay’s writing, I was completely engrossed in her debut.  I started it later one evening and didn’t put it down or get up until I was finished.  Marcie is a wonderful, relatible character and I couldn’t get enough of her story.  I needed to know how her relationship with Linus was going to pan out because she didn’t know how to talk to him about J.D.  The first part of the novel is about her life in New Hampshire, while the second half is about her life back in Idaho.  I love when authors set novels up this way because you know right away that the story is going somewhere you’ll want to explore and know more about.  The majority of the story is about Marcie navigating love and friendship, but it’s also about her building better relationships with her father and mother.  The layers of her story are told fluidly in beautiful verse.

There are so many pieces of this novel that teens will relate to and love.  If you haven’t explored verse novels, Love & Leftovers would be a great way to introduce yourself to this style of writing.  I can’t wait to read more of Sarah Tregay’s novels.  If only it didn’t take so long to write and publish novels! 🙂

**This review has also been posted today on the Nerdy Book Club blog.**

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