Tuesday 13 April 2010

Interview - My Teen Step-Sister C!

You've already heard about my siblings (plus pictures) in all their glory but I failed to mention my step-sisters. This wasn't because I didn't want to mention them but I did want to protect them as they are younger than Erin and Rory. So I shall be calling them by their initials in the interest of privacy.

My mother married C and D's father three and a half years ago and their families have merged together slowly but surely. My mother was (and continues to be) very happy and my step-father is a lovely, chilled out and slightly geeky dude. This means he totally gets my tendency to fixate on things like television, movies and blogging. He continues to try and explain it to my mother with no effect. Also, the man has a music knowledge that is scary good...and not necessarily the music you'd expect from a father either.

I asked my youngest step-sister, C, if she would let me interview her for the blog. Why? She's an Australian teen who reads. She's also insanely bright and insightful. She would have scared the crap out of me in high school. But then again sixteen year old girls are scary no matter how old you are. C is intelligent, articulate and feisty - she suffers no fools. There was no better person to get their impression on reading and what appeals to teenagers.

A big thank you to C for letting me prod her brain when she inevitably had better things to do.

What book can you first remember reading as a young child? What stuck with you?
As a young child I can vividly remember reading “Grandpa's Slippers” it was a short picture book that I probably started reading when I was about 4-5 years old.

Grandpa's Slippers was about a Grandpa who owned a certain pair of slippers which he adored! Yet, his wife, Grandma did not. Grandma tried everything to get Grandpa into a new pair of slippers, but Grandpa just would not have it. What stuck with me from this book I suppose is the message that you can not nor should not change yourself for others and others and yourself should be comfortable with you being yourself.

To be honest I haven't read this picture book and now I wish I owned it. I would love to read this to my class. Also a big thumbs up as the author, Joy Watson, is a New Zealander - hurrah for Oceania authors!

Could you list your three favourite YA books and why you love them?
1. Everything Beautiful - Simmone Howell.
I loved Everything Beautiful because I found it so easy to relate to and I felt it tackled issues which are relevant to myself and other teenagers. Along with its relativity, Everything Beautiful was an inspiring novel and had a great storyline which made me unable to put it down!

2. Guitar, Highway, Rose - Brigid Lowry.
Guitar, Highway, Rose was such an inspirational novel. Even though I read this book at least 2-3 years ago I still remember loving every minute of it. The events of the story were intriguing along with the characters. The language Lowry employed was easy to understand yet did not try and ‘dumb it down’. Guitar, Highway, Rose; an oldie but a goodie!

3. Just Listen - Sarah Dessen.
Just Listen was a fantastic novel which demanded my absolute attention as soon as I picked it up. Just as the previous books I have mentioned I found it very relevant to issues people my age face and also it had that hint of romance in there, which I can’t deny, I love!

I am proud as punch, I gave her Everything Beautiful and Just Listen as gifts. Best book giver ever! Doesn't C have good taste? - I totally have to read Guitar, Highway, Rose.

Thoughts on Twilight?
How about, absolute crap? Or is that too harsh? Let’s just say Twilight is not really my cup of tea, yet I’m sure that many people all around the world fall for the dramatic life of Edward and Bella. I prefer to read books that aren’t so packed with adjectives and descriptions of ‘his perfectly sculpted abdomen which glistened in the light’ ... or whatever. To me, Twilight seems like Stephenie Meyer stumbled upon the ‘synonyms’ function on her computer and decided to write books encompassing as many as possible to fool readers of the actual storyline and use of ‘good’ literary techniques.

I don't have anything to add. We might not share DNA but we do have the same propensity to not mince words.

Which character have you found yourself relating to the most when reading?
It is hard to identify a specific character, but generally I relate to the main female character. The type of character that has something they are not proud of, a secret or something similar. I relate to characters who tackle similar issues as I do in day-to-day life.

I haven't heard this from a teen before. Normally I hear about wanting some romance or an adventure but I think C's touching on a character doing something they're not proud of is pretty central to all YA literature.

Is there a book that should cease to be taught as part of a school curriculum?
Without a doubt, To Kill a Mocking Bird or Of Mice and Men. I am extremely interested in reading and generally do so in whatever spare time I have, but these two novels ceased to capture my attention and I found no interest in them at all. Although they are classics, I don’t feel they relate to students as they used to nor have the same impact that was intended.

As a teacher, I am going to stick with 'no comment'. However, I continue to be disappointed that her teachers fail to engage her in the core texts.

Where do you get your reading material?
I usually get my reading material from school or public libraries or the wonderful Adele! :)

Libraries kick ass. As do I. I give C books for gifts most of the time. It's not a matter of digging through my review copy stack either - I buy titles I've read. I usually think about the person for awhile and really try and pinpoint a book that might speak to them. This usually means the book is written by an Aussie too - I've gifted Howell, Wilkinson and Marchetta. I also lend C heaps of books so she's made quite a dent in my Dessen collection and other contemporary YA.

How important is a cover when selecting a book to read?
Well I can only speak for myself. I am definitely a ‘judge a book by its cover’ person, as cliché as it sounds. A cover is the first point of interest for me. If the cover looks intriguing I will pick up the book and continue to read the blurb. I would say that the cover captures my attention and the blurb is the defining moment whether I decide to read the book or not.


What genres do you tend to gravitate towards?
I tend to gravitate towards teenage fiction and romance/dramatic novels. I generally like anything that is relevant to me and my life. As long as it is not blood sucking vampires, unbearable science fiction or fantasy I’m generally up for a good read.

So maybe I should send her Kristin Cashore's Fire next? :P

How have I influenced your reading?
Well, considering I personally know Adele quite well I value her thoughts and opinions, especially when it comes to books. Also, over the years Adele has provided me with endless supplies of novels and sometimes begged for my opinion. Adele has a knowledge and understanding of books for teens and young adults which I have found to be most valuable when choosing or reading a book.

You knew I was going to get in touch with my narcissistic self at some point, right? I swear I didn't pay her to say any of that.

Thanks to C for taking the time to answer my questions about her reading. If it highlights anything it is that you need to find the right books for the right person. Find characters and voices that speak to you. And if you can, have a relative that blogs :)

Reading her responses makes me think that she should be blogging herself - how about it, C?


Tracey said...

Adele, I really enjoyed reading your interview with your step sister. It's great to hear the opinions of books from readers who they are written for. Often, I have recommended a book to my 14 year old son based on a review, to find that more times than not he doesn't find it as engaging as the reviewer. I think teens at this age (especially boys) have quite a different view on what they like than the adults in their lives think they like.

Nomes said...

I loved your step-sisters review. She sounds awesome :)

I also loved and adored Guitar Highway Rose by Lowry. In fact, it inspired a bit of fan fiction from me as a teen. I remember trying to copy her style. sigh. Good times.

kate.o.d said...

ditto on the lowry fan fiction. and actually my year 11 picasso-inspired painting assignment was a black haired gypsy girl with the body/stem of a rose. oh cringe!

Anonymous said...

This was a brilliant idea!

You are absolutely right, she is articulate, intelligent and thoughtful. Its difficult to believe the two of you don't share DNA.

The only thing that made me pause was the Kill A Mockingbird comment. You are right Adele, it would seem we are failing as teachers if we are unable to engage teens in this novel.

Thank you C for sharing your time with us and giving us valuable insight into what Young Adults are thinking and reading :)_

Anonymous said...

This was a brilliant idea!

You are absolutely right, she is articulate, intelligent and thoughtful. Its difficult to believe the two of you don't share DNA.

The only thing that made me pause was the Kill A Mockingbird comment. You are right Adele, it would seem we are failing as teachers if we are unable to engage teens in this novel.

Thank you C for sharing your time with us and giving us valuable insight into what Young Adults are thinking and reading :)_

Mari - Escape In A Book said...

This was a fantastic interview, Adele and C. I enjoyed it very much. If you hadn't mentioned that she was your stepsister, Adele, then I would have guessed she was your twin or something ;)

It also made me feel that I must have been a slightly stupid 16 year old, I could never ever have come up with such good answers.

Reading about the book with the slippers reminded me a lot about my dad and granddad. Or perhaps that is just a typical male thing? The book might have a deeper meaning but lot of older men is exactly like that.

I was just about to ask if your stepsister has a blog of her own but I see that she hasn't(she should really, she seems like an excellent writer).