Harmony Book Reviews

Here's How I See It by Heather Henson: Book Cover

Title: Here’s How I See it, Here’s How It Is

Author: Heather Henson

Rating: 8.5/10

Summary: (Taken from BN.com)

here’s how i see it

Rave reviews, an endless request for autographs, my name in lights on Broadway.

here’s how it is

The audience is half empty, I spend zero time onstage, my dad’s midlife crisis is about to ruin the playhouse…and my family.

Junebug dreams of being a leading lady someday. A serious actress, a stage actress, a real actress. And it should be easy for her to get her start ― her parents own the Blue Moon Playhouse, after all, and her dad performed on Broadway (once). But the truth is, at (almost) thirteen, she’s not even a supporting actress or a stand-in or an understudy or even a child actor has-been. In the current Blue Moon production, her role is this: thunder, props…and stagehand (gopher, actually). And lately it seems like maybe the stagehand mindset ― go unnoticed, don’t say a word ― is rubbing off on Junebug’s personality. She’s starting to feel as though her opinions never count, her worries aren’t taken seriously, that she’s becoming the ultimate stagehand: invisible. And that’s not a role she’s happy with.

From author and former playhouse insider Heather Henson comes a novel about growing up, standing out, and what it means to live your life just outside of the spotlight.

 My Thoughts: Heather Henson has created such a fun, creative, and realistic book with Here’s How I See It. Junebug was such a sweet but strong character. Her personality and love for the theater really shines through the story. All of the other characters, whether it was Thespis, her dad, or the stage hands, really had distinct personality and added so much fun to the story. I really loved some of the supporting characters and wish they had been in the story a little more but, otherwise, I loved everything about the characters. Junebug also faces a lot of family issues, which I felt was a great addition to the story. She handled everything in a way that was realistic to a girl her age while keeping true to herself, which I think is something that is missing from a lot of books.

Theater was also a big part of the book. It fit in well, since it was such an important part of the book, but I was going “what?” at times, just because my knowledge of anything related to theater is very little. However, that never really took away from the book and by the time it was over, I can say that my theater knowledge is now greatly expanded.

Overall, I highly recommend this one to tweens and young teens. It’s another book that doesn’t get nearly enough attention, even though it deserves too.

First off, I want to thank Amy Reed for being my October Author of the Month. It was tons of fun and I just loved Beautiful.

This month, I’m extremely excited to announce Bree Despain as Author of the Month. Bree’s debut novel, The Dark Divine, releases later this month and I can honestly say it is 100% awesome.

Keep checking the blog throughout the month because there’s going to be tons of stuff to celebrate the release, including a giveaway, review, interview, and more!

Hey everyone. I want to apologize for posting VERY little in the past month. Things have just been so busy with school and everything else. However, I do have a few reviews to post and a new AOM to announce on Saturday. Plus, I have some exciting changes coming for the site.

The winner of the signed hardcover of Beautiful is….ERICA.

Erica, I’ll be emailing you to get your address. Please respond within 48 hours.

Thanks to everyone that entered!

I know I said I was going to be MIA this month but I just had to share my excitement tomorrow. I will be driving three plus hours to go to:

 

Sunday 22 November 2009, 1:00-3:00PM
A NOVEL IDEA:
A benefit for the
Philadelphia Free Library
summer reading program
Laurie Halse Anderson, Jay Asher,
T.A. Barron, Sarah Dessen,
Steven Kluger, Justine Larbalestier,
David Levithan, Lauren Myracle,
Scott Westerfeld, Jacqueline Woodson
Children’s Book World
17 Haverford Station Road
Haverford, PA

AMAZING line-up, right? I’m mostly going for Sarah Dessen and Laurie Halse Anderson but I’d love to get some stuff signed by the others too. Unfortunately, I have to buy any books I want signed there so I will most likely only be getting a Sarah Dessen and LHA book plus a few Christmas presents, I hope. But still, it’ll be great.

I’ve known about this signing but I figured I wouldn’t be able to go because it’s so far away and both of my parents work and wouldn’t take off. But, my amazing grandma said that if I could get my one friend to drive (she’s 20 and HATES books), she’d pay for gas. So I begged my friend and she finally agreed so we’re spinning it off as a “roadtrip” and leaving tomorrow morning at 7:30. I’m SO excited.

Anyone else going to be there?

 

 

Amy Reed author photo

You’re a published author! Yay! How does it feel to know that your book is finally on the shelves of bookstores, ready for a reader to pick up?

I’m feeling a whole bunch of emotions.  Mostly, I’m just really excited and grateful to have this opportunity.  It’s amazing to work so hard on something, to put my heart and soul into it, then have it actually out there in the world.  It’s validating, to say the least.  It’s a huge honor.  But it’s also kind of scary.  Because Beautiful is such a personal book, I’m extra sensitive to negative feedback.  So far, the response has been really positive, but who knows what’ll happen.

 

Have you always wanted to be an author? When did you begin writing?

From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be a storyteller of some kind.  I started writing very bad poetry around 13, then learned to play guitar and started writing slightly better but equally embarrassing songs.  I went back and forth between wanting to be a writer and a rock star, then decided in my early 20′s that I needed a real profession so I went to film school.  Shortly after I graduated, I decided I wanted to be a writer again, so I went back to school to get my MFA in writing.  And that’s where Beautiful was born.  My husband’s a musician and filmmaker, so I figure we have everything covered together.

 

For those who haven’t heard about it yet, can you tell us a little bit about Beautiful?

It’s the story of 13-year old Cassie, who moves to a new town and decides she’ll go to any extreme to fit in.  R.A. Nelson described it as “a latter-day Go Ask Alice,” which I think is a perfect description.  It’s edgy and raw, but it’s also a very real look at what can happen when someone finds themselves on a dangerous downward spiral. 

 

 

Is there anything specific you want readers to take away from Beautiful?

I’ve said this in other interviews, but I really think it’s worth saying again.  I want teens to realize how important their choices are.  I hope teens feel empowered to make the right decisions for themselves, even if it means going against what they think is popular.  I also hope that they can feel safe to ask for help if they’re in a dangerous situation.  Even if you think it’s too late, even if you’re afraid of getting in trouble, there is always help out there. There is always hope. You do not have to do it alone.

 

If Beautiful were to be turned into a movie, who do you picture playing the roles of the main characters?

I would love Cassie to be played by Dakota Fanning.  I think she’s one of the most talented young actresses working today, and she has that perfect blend of innocence and edge for the character.  I can’t think of anyone in particular for Sarah, but she’d have to be a special combination of sweet and haunted. Alex would be the most fun to cast because she’s not your typical “mean girl.”  She’s hard and cruel, but also very wounded.  I don’t know that I’ve seen a character like her in a movie before.

 

Did you read as a teen? What were your favorite books? What are your favorite books now?

I read a lot as a teen, all kinds of books.  The YA genre didn’t really exist then, but I remember being blown away by some of the classics: Catcher in the Rye, Brave New World, Lord of the Flies, 1984, Farenheit 451–basically anything with a cynical or anti-authoritarian theme.  I was obsessed with Tom Robbins for a few years.  I read Go Ask Alice, Girl, Interrupted and the collected poetry of Anne Sexton at least a million times.  I think I was drawn toward anything with a troubled female main character.  Now, I usually alternate between adult and YA novels, and I still lean toward the dark and edgy. But basically, I love anything with a compelling story and characters.  Probably my all-time favorite book for teens and adults is The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. It’s beautiful and brilliant.

 

What part has the internet played in the release of your book, whether it’s your website/blog, book reviewers, etc? Do you feel that book bloggers have helped spread the word about Beautiful?

So far, book bloggers are my favorite people in the world! Seriously, I think you guys are really the champions of YA fiction, especially when it comes to debut authors.  YA has a unique audience that doesn’t quite fit with the traditional publishing mold.  I love the DIY attitude of bloggers and the power of word-of-mouth.  Even though it all happens in the “virtual” world, it seems somehow more human.  It’s about real people discussing and recommending books, not a huge marketing campaign telling you what to buy. 

Are you working on anything now? If so, what can you tell us about it?

I’m working on a YA novel that takes place in an adolescent drug treatment center.  Like Beautiful, it deals with pretty difficult subject matter, but I think it’ll surprise you with how hopeful it is.

What’s one thing about yourself that you’d like readers to know? And finally, what is your advice to your teen readers, whether it’s on life, writing, or anything else?

I had a pretty rough time in middle school and high school.  Like Cassie, I did a lot of things I knew were wrong just because I thought it would help me fit in.  But it caused me a lot of pain, and eventually I realized it wasn’t worth it.  Nothing is worth sacrificing who you are and what you believe.  Even though it may seem like the most important thing in the world, being cool or popular in high school matters very little when you get out in the real world. What matters is knowing who you are and acting with integrity.

So. November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I, the crazy girl that I am, will be taking part. I’m SUPER excited. I’ve got a small start on an outline and I feel like I could start writing right NOW. But, you know, I can’t.

But, since I’m going to be writing 50,000 words in November, starting on my Christmas shopping, and attempting to keep straight A’s in school, I’m going to be busybusybusy which means there probably aren’t going to be very many posts here on the blog.

I was planning on scheduling some but I’m the the Queen of Procrastination and that never happened. I am typing up a few right now so it won’t be a complete Ghost Town during the next month but I definitely won’t be posting every day.

Just wanted to give everyone a heads-up on that ;) I’ll still be around, just not as much. Be prepared for a bunch of writing-related posts throughout the month, though!

“Flashback” is a new weekly feature here on the blog where authors write a guest blog on their teen years. Authors, if you’re interested, email me at harmonybookreviews[at]yahoo[dot]com.

Today, I welcome Jessica Blank, author of Karma for Beginners.

It’s funny–I only started writing fiction about six years ago (I wanted something I could do on my own at my computer between acting and playwriting jobs, so I taught myself!) but looking back, I can see I’ve been a writer since high school.  I was a theater kid, mostly–that was my first love, and what I knew I wanted to do from pretty early on— but I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember, and I had this one amazing creative writing teacher, Dr. Galvin, who I still remember.  He had a tweed jacket and a mustache and was the poet laureate of Maryland (really!) and he would bring other real live professional writers in to talk to us sometimes.  His class was an elective, a little haven for the artsy weirdo brainy kids, and I took it two years in a row.  His classroom had plants in it, and a tape recorder that he would play music on, and lots of posters everywhere–one of them said, “A story is a big lie–but in the middle of that lie, you’re telling the truth.”  I mostly wrote poems in that class–it took me till my twenties to figure out how to write a story–but I loved, loved, loved words, and Dr. Galvin was one of the first people who taught me that you could make beautiful things out of them. I am NOT a math or science person–like, not even a little bit—and I’d slog through geometry and trig and biology and all that, doodling on my hand, waiting till the bell rang and I could go to Dr. Galvin’s class. High school was kind of like that for me–some classes I couldn’t have cared less about and my parents had to kind of kick my butt to make sure I didn’t flunk them entirely–but other classes, the ones with the amazing teachers who told you that you could make things out of words and listen to music during school and talk about what was interesting to you and learn ways to make those things interesting to other people too–those classes were better than just about anything.  I felt kind of like a misfit in high school–like, I think, most high school kids do, even if they know how to hide it–but that creative writing class was a place where that was somehow okay, maybe even cool, maybe even something you could create something from.

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