She Loves You, She Loves You Not...Ages:14 and up Hardcover: 288 pages Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (June 1, 2011) Language: English ISBN-10: 0316078743 ISBN-13: 978-0316078740
Dumped by her girlfriend and rejected by her family, Alyssa is sent across the country to live with the mother who abandoned her at birth. A mother who still doesn’t seem to have room in her heart for Alyssa. Hurt and alone, Alyssa is left to create a new life for herself. Can she ever get over her abandonment issues to trust again? Can she redefine “family?” And will she open herself to the possibility of new love?
Seventeen-year-old Alyssa thought she knew who she was. She had her family and her best friends and, most important, she had Sarah. Sarah, her girlfriend, with whom she dreamed with about the day they could move far away and live out and proud and accepted for themselves, instead of having to hide their relationship.
Alyssa never thought she would have to make that move by herself, but disowned by her father and cut off from everyone she loves, she is forced to move hundreds of miles away to live with Carly, the biological mother she barely knows, in a town where everyone immediately dismisses her as "Carly's girl." As Alyssa struggles to forget her past and come to terms with her future, will she be able to build a new life for herself and believe in love again? Or will she be forced to relive the mistakes that have cost her everything and everyone she cared about?
National Book Award finalist Julie Anne Peters has written a compelling novel about coming out, finding love, and discovering your place in the world. Alyssa's story will speak to anyone who has known the joy and pain of first love and the struggle to start over again.
The night Sarah and Ben showed up out of the blue. You should’ve known or suspected something was wrong. The vibe was weird, but then it had been for a while, and Sarah was… Sarah. Up in your room even, when she kissed you and you lost yourself in her. The moment it all came crashing down.
On the plane ride here, to the vast unknown that is Carly, the stupidest thing kept running through your brain. That toy in Dad’s office. You learned at some point it wasn’t a toy, that it had a name: Newton’s swing. Steel balls in a row suspended on a frame. When you pulled balls back on one end and let them go, the same number of balls swung out from the opposite end. The harder you let go of the balls, the farther out the balls on the other side flew. You even remembered the principle, that for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. How many hours did you spend in Dad’s office playing with those balls? He’d say, “Cut it out, Alyssa. You’re driving me nuts.”
The physics law works not only on objects but on people. Because of Sarah’s action, her force and thrust on your life, you went flying into space and spinning out of control.
I’m not always sure where inspiration comes from. Often, I’ll look back on a book years later and think, Oh. Now I see what I was remembering, or trying to forget. Writing is a great way to purge all the demons that might be haunting you.
For She Loves You, She Loves You Not…., I believe the inspiration came from three sources:
I vividly recall the pain of my first breakup—the actual physical ache, as if someone was crushing my heart in their fist. Heartache is more than a word; it’s a sensation you never want to relive.
I was desperate to recapture that love and, I realize now, how my actions might’ve verged on stalking behavior.
(This is a slim connection.) There’s a Kenny Chesney song, “Dancing for the Music,” about a mom who is an exotic dancer, but only because she has to make enough money to pay the rent and keep her kids in clothes and braces, etc. I thought it’d be fun to have an exotic dancer in a book. Not my main character. That’d be pushing the limits for a YA novel. But a mom, a peripheral character, who dances for the music. However, her music has nothing to do with need or selflessness, as you’ll find out when you read this book.
In addition, there were four things I wanted to accomplish with She Loves You, She Loves You Not…:
My first book for an LGBTQ audience, Keeping You a Secret, is a lesbian love story and readers seem to love it so much (according to the fan mail I receive), that I wanted to give them another book with a similar theme.
In Keeping You a Secret, Cece is such a cherished character for being an out and proud lesbian that I wanted Alyssa, in She Loves You, She Loves You Not…, to be secure in her sexuality.
Setting was vital to the story and character arc in Far from Xanadu (recently reissued as Pretend You Love Me), so I wanted to recreate that kind of “family” bond in this new book. Majestic, Colorado, where Alyssa is sent to live with her estranged mother, would end up to be significantly influential in Alyssa's story arc.
With every book, I try to stretch my artistic wings, and in this one, I wanted to use second person point of view. If you’re not familiar with second person POV, think of it as a character who’s suspended above herself, looking in and listening to her life. It’s a detached point of view that I felt worked well in the flashbacks as Alyssa is reflecting on her recent past, trying to figure out how she ended up with no one to love and no place to call home. (I promise that by the end of the book she’ll have more—much more than she started with J.)