In my opinion, books are the best accessory.
The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner – Middle School/High School:
I’m so honored to have a three portion post about the fantastic book The Pull of Gravity: celebrating, interviewing, more celebration of the lovely book!
15 Reasons Why I loved The Pull of Gravity:
1. This was a gorgeous touching book is interconnected with Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
2. It has been a while since I’ve been touched by a book so much that I dreamed about it.
3. This book was powerful because not only do you immediately connect with the main character but you develop feelings for all the other characters as well.
4. I handled the heartache shared within the book in stride because of how the brilliant Gae Polisner introduced it.
5. I loved Gae’s ability to develop the characters in the reader’s mind. Also, I haven’t met too many authors that can turn a fever and puking into something romantic… yet she does!
6. The overall message is drawn from accepting that you cannot be in control, even with the best planning.
7. I found the book reassuring because it acknowledged all my “control freak” fears and then spun them on their head.
8. I appreciate how this book respectfully addressed how families were impacted by an obese family member and a medically fragile family member. Also, it was interesting to read how the news reports were portrayed. During certain portions, I thought that perhaps Gae also used her experience as a mediator to develop the story and experience.
9. I love how this book begs to be read aloud. I look forward to sharing it with others.
10. Having the opportunity to read this book side by side with the classic Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a beautiful opportunity for any classroom in middle school or high school.
11. There is a beautiful love story mixed into this book that will appeal to teen readers, both boys and girls, just like John Green’s brilliant books.
12. I don’t care what others think, I LOVE quirky characters. I identify with them quickly and always enjoy reading what quip comes next in dialogue. The Pull of Gravity has a fantastic quirky character.
13. It is fun to notice how Gae created a “hook” for her main characters that makes you want to know more about them and why they do certain things… like why a girl would wear troll dolls around her neck.
14. Gae Polisner is a fantastic, honest author who is quite open with her enthusiastic perspective about being an author. Readers have easy access to her online, especially through her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.
15. Any book that has characters obsessed with Star Wars, quoting them, watching them so many times, 400!!, they can pick up and watch the movie at any point… that’s a wonderful book to read!
I love first lines of books. The Pull of Gravity has a first line (or few lines) that really drew me in:
A fever was what started everything. That, and the water tower, and the cherry cola…
*Gae gave me permission to share some other favorite lines in the book, so here are my absolute favorite lines: (don’t want to share many because I really don’t want to ruin this fantastic book for future readers:
p. 142: “I just like how the book shows how plans go wrong…” “But you know from the outset there’s going to be a problem, that something will get messed up. Like the Burns poem says, you now, ‘The best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry.'”
p. 125-126: “It’s some weird trifecta of foreshadowing. You know, like you taught me about in the book?…”
p. 76: “You know, Nick, ‘always in motion is the future.'”
Thank you so much to Gae Polisner for this interview:
What was your favorite childhood book memory?
I was a voracious reader as a kid, so I have so many. But, if I had to pick one, it was when I was 8 or 9 and my mother was reading Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth by E. L. Konigsburg aloud to me while I was really sick with a high fever. I remember the feeling of drifting off to sleep and not wanting to, even though I felt so horrible, because I was so caught up in the story, and then waking up to find my mom sitting there, ready to read the next chapter to me. That’s the power of a good book (and a good mother!): To turn a really sick period into a wonderful childhood memory.
Have you read any children’s literature books recently?
Because I have so many talented friends who write children’s and young adult literature, it is mostly what I’ve read for the past two years. But because I also write women’s fiction, I actually made a resolution to read more contemporary women’s fiction this year, so the last several books I read were adult novels, the two most memorable of those were Tom McNeal’s stunning To Be Sung Underwater (so blown away by his writing and storytelling, I actually sent him a fan email. And, yes, he graciously responded! P.s. he also writes YA!!) and Maria Semple’s very funny and unique, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? As for YA, I am dying to read AS King’s new one, Ask the Passengers (I love all her amazing work!), plus Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park and so many others. The last YA I finished was Geoff Herbach’s Nothing Special, which, like all his stuff, is brilliantly funny, poignant and real. Need books for disenfranchised teen male readers? His Stupid Fast books are key. And, I’m about to start Sign Language by Amy Ackley, which won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I know Amy from the contest and through Facebook. Can’t wait. It’s been on my TBR for a while.
What was a favorite genre you read as a child?
I read a wide range of stuff as a kid, everything from Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Trilogy (yes, it was still only a trilogy then, not yet a quartet!) to Judy Blume, to Paul Zindel, to a lot a true crime (In Cold Blood, Fatal Vision) and darker stuff (Go Ask Alice, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden and, of course, the Dollanganger series starting with Flowers In the Attic) as I got older.
**Funny, I also read Time Trilogy, Go Ask Alice, and Flowers in the Attic as I was growing up as well… they led me to so many other books!
Do you still have any of your books from when you were a child?
Some of them are probably still at my parents’ house, though many are probably given away. I should go scavenge there and rescue. In college, I went through a HUGE John Updike and William Goldman period. Those are still on my bookshelves.
Are you in a writers group? If so, has it helped you?
I’m not in a writers group, but I do have a few trusted writer and reader friends who read for me when I have a manuscript ready for another set of eyes. I’d be lost without them, but am not really a writing group or book group kind of person, although I probably should be.
Do you have a key writing tips for kids? Or adults?
Yes. Allow your initial writing to be garbage. Allow your first drafts to be crap. It’s nice to expect more from yourself, but unrealistic. My first drafts are utter nonsense. Sometimes my second and third drafts. . . the pretty writing is in the revision. The story takes shape real shape in the revision.
Do you have a new book being released in the next year?
Yes, and I’m ridiculously excited about it. It’s a young adult title, The Summer of Letting Go, coming from Algonquin Young Readers (Elise Howard), March 2014. It’s a story of loss, first love, and learning to forgive oneself and let go. I think it’s a good and lovely story. And funny in parts. I hope there’s also some funny. ☺
How do you feel about the development and growth of the e-Book industry?
It scares me, but then all change scares me. I’m one of those people who like (almost) everything to stay the same. I am also one of those people who really likes to hold a book in my hand. I don’t have an e-reader. It makes me sad to think that there will be less books – are less books – in the world, even if the amount of stories doesn’t change. I know, that makes me sound old and lame, but there you have it. Someone gave me a Kindle once, and I have no idea where I put it.
Did you always plan on a writing career or if not…?
I wrote as a kid and a teen – poems and short stories, mostly, but never really dreamed of being a writer. Honestly, it would have seemed too pie-in-the-sky. After college, I went to law school, became a divorce lawyer and continue to be a practicing divorce mediator today. You can see the influence of this line of work in almost all my stories. When I returned to the endeavor of creative writing after my first son was born, I don’t think I really thought I could actually become a published author. It’s still a little mind-boggling to me that I have. And that I’m about to repeat it a second time. Is it unfair to hope for a third?
If you weren’t a writer, what occupation would you be working in?
Actually, if we’re counting on significant income, most of us writers are already working another job or have another occupation, and I’m no exception. As mentioned above, I’m a divorce mediator by trade and have been a divorce lawyer for decades (yes, I’m that old). Now, if I could do anything in a next life that I can’t do in this, I would be a better dancer. I would be able to shake my ass like Shakira. Add some acting to it, if we’re granting wishes. As a kid I always acted. A career in theatre would have been fun.
Did any teacher or mentor specifically influence you in your career?
Actually, I just did a blog post on this HERE. Each of those teachers – one from elementary school, one from high school and one from college, played a real part in the writer I’ve become today. Believe it or not, there’s an actual lesson Mrs. Stanley did with my fourth grade class that I still use in my head when I’m writing and revising today. Our homework assignment was to write the instructions to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The next day, Mrs. Stanley came to class with supplies: jar of peanut butter, bread, jelly, butter knife, plate, etc. We had to read our instructions aloud and she would stand at a desk and follow them to the letter. So, if you’re instructions started, “Put the peanut butter on the bread,” she would take the jar of pb and put it on top of the wrapped loaf of bread… of course, much hilarity ensued, but the lesson stuck with me in my writing: That before you start making the delicious part, you have to set out the plate and open the bag, etc. Even when I did all my legal writing, I used that lesson, and, to this day, when I’m working on a manuscript, I’ll say to myself, “Slow down. Make the peanut butter and jelly sandwich the right way.”
*Do you have any favorite topping you like on your pizza? (in honor of my husband who thinks it would be cool if I collect a list of author’s favorite pizza “You can learn a lot about a person from the pizza topping they like.”) – I’d really appreciate you answering this one!!
Not peanut butter and jelly. 😉 I’m actually one of those healthy-ish eaters, so my pizza choice would probably be a gourmet salad or veggie slice – thin crunchy crust – with a balsamic reduction drizzled on top. I know, so highbrow and chi chi of me. Sorry.
*I love highbrow and chi chi! 🙂
Sentences to finish if you don’t mind:
The best advice I’ve received for my profession was…. “Keep your eyes on your own paper,” meaning there will always be better writers, or authors with bigger sales or splashier careers. I can and will always strive to be a better writer for myself and my readers, but I can only be me, and do the kind of writing I do, and have the career I have. So, to pine away over those other things or try to emulate them is the wrong way to spend my energy. Eyes back on my own paper – or screen, as the case may be.
The habit I never break for my writing practice is… to revise until it reads as well as it can to me. To not be lazy or settle for almost there. Although I’m also one of those writers who will revise and revise until some editor I trust pulls the pen from my hand, and says, “Enough. Enough.” It’s why it’s hard for me to go back and read my book in print form from cover to cover. Because all I see are the sentences I would change. Still make better.
If someone had told me…how hard it would be post-publication in this brave new world of publishing, I might have braced myself better. The rejection and struggle never stops coming. The successes are merely the spots in between.
Why do people always assume… stories are personal or true? Sure, bits and pieces come from our personal lives, but our job is to take those true kernels and blow them up, twist and fictionalize them, make them more dramatic and interesting. By the time we’re done, a manuscript rarely bears any resemblance to actual events in our real life.
Debbie, you forgot to ask me… If I could have written any book that I’ve read in the past five years (other than my own, of course), which would it be? Good question, Debbie. 😉 The one YA book I’ve read in the past five years that I truly wish I wrote is Marcelo in the Real World, by Francisco Stork. The whole time I was reading it, I kept thinking things like “yes!” and “oh wow…” and “how?” I strive to write a book as memorable and important. It’s the one book I recommend most knowing it will resonate deeply with most readers. I wish I wrote it. Yes, I do.
Thank you so much for the interview, now back to the fantastic book:
Goodreads Summary: “While Nick Gardner’s family is falling apart, his best friend, Scooter, is dying from a freak disease. The Scoot’s final wish is that Nick and their quirky classmate, Jaycee Amato, deliver a prized first-edition copy of Of Mice and Men to the Scoot’s father. There’s just one problem: the Scoot’s father walked out years ago and hasn’t been heard from since. So, guided by Steinbeck’s life lessons, and with only the vaguest of plans, Nick and Jaycee set off to find him. Characters you’ll want to become friends with and a narrative voice that sparkles with wit make this a truly original coming-of-age story.”
I thought this little promotion/book trailer for The Pull of Gravity was lovely:
I also loved this Nerdy Book Club Post about how to inspire students!
Book Giveaway Entry Form: Giveaway Closed- congratulations to: Erin and Mary!
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