The Children’s Book Review | April 5, 2017
Carol Weston’s Selfie With Speed of Life
My Upper West Side apartment is full of book shelves, so the big questions were: Where should I pose? And where’s Mike, my dear old cat?
Here I am by my grandmother’s piano. My husband took this with his cellphone, (sorry it’s a little blurry), but maybe you can see books by Cervantes, Tolstoy, Proust, McMurtry, Munro, Grafton, Russo, Alvarez, Atkinson. There are art books and travel books and quotation books too — as well as a bird house my daughter made, a Don Quixote Lladró, some vintage teddy bears, and family photos. Oh, and the bicycle that Rob uses to get around Manhattan. (I prefer to walk or subway.) As for Mike, he’s our rescue cat, and Ava and Taco Cat is absolutely based on him. (We thought he’d never purr, but now he purrs up a storm.)
I was a French and Spanish comparative literature major at Yale, and my goal had always been to write a novel, so I’m thrilled that Speed of Life will finally be on other people’s bookshelves. It was not speedy to write, and I poured my heart into it. In fact, I began writing it about ten years ago, and though I’ve written seven other novels, this is the first that doesn’t begin, “Dear Diary,” so it was more challenging and feels more substantial.
Is it autobiographical? Yes. I lost a parent too early, so I identify with Sofia, the 14-year-old. And I’ve been an advice columnist at Girls’ Life since 1994, so I understand Dear Kate and know what teen girls think about. I set the novel in New York City, in my neighborhood, and in Westchester, where I grew up, and in Spain, where I lived after college. It takes place over a year, so you accompany Sofia as she copes with grief, moving, first love, changing friendships, and blending families. I’m so pleased that it has gotten early starred reviews from Kirkus, PW, Booklist, and School Library Journal.
Speed of Life begins: “WARNING: This is kind of a sad story. At least at first. So if you don’t like sad stories, maybe you shouldn’t read this.” Of course, I hope you will read the book, and my job as an author is to make it worth your while.
Maybe I should add that in my home, I have two book shelves that are full of autographed books, two that are full of my own diaries and scrapbooks, and others that are full of books of poetry and books about writing and my own books. (My first book, Girltalk came out in a dozen languages.)
I’ve been a member of the same book club for 25 years. We read new books and classics, and I love being a reader. As a child, I was afraid of big books — I much preferred short fairy tales and Greek myths and Aesop’s Fables. But now I’m usually in the middle of a few books at once, as well as an audiobook or two.
My parents were both editors, so we talked a lot about words growing up—and played a lot of Scrabble. I have many of their books too.
Confession: When I go to other people’s homes, I always look at their bookshelves. Do they read all sorts of books or only one genre? Do they have coffee table books? Battered paperbacks? Do they arrange them by size or color or the alphabet? In my home, I can’t always find the book that I’m looking for, but I have lots of places to look. As Dr. Seuss put it: “Fill your house with lots of books. In all the crannies. In all the nooks.”
Written by Carol Weston
Publisher’s Synopsis: Sofia lost her mother eight months ago, and her friends were 100% there for her. Now it’s a new year and they’re ready for Sofia to move on.
Problem is, Sofia can’t bounce back, can’t recharge like a cellphone. She decides to write Dear Kate, an advice columnist for Fifteen Magazine, and is surprised to receive a fast reply. Soon the two are exchanging emails, and Sofia opens up and spills all, including a few worries that are totally embarrassing. Turns out even advice columnists don’t have all the answers, and one day Sofia learns a secret that flips her world upside down.
SPEED OF LIFE is the heartbreaking, heartwarming story of a girl who thinks her life is over when really it’s just beginning. It’s a novel about love, family, grief, and growing up.
Ages 11-14 | Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky | 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1492654490
About Carol Weston
CAROL WESTON has been the “Dear Carol” advice columnist at Girls’ Life since 1994. Her sixteen books include Ava and Pip, Ava and Taco Cat, Ava XOX, The Diary of Melanie Martin, and Girltalk, which was published in a dozen languages. A Yale grad, Carol has an MA in Spanish from Middlebury. She lives in Manhattan.
Discover more books like “Speed of Life,” by Carol Weston, by checking out our reviews and articles tagged with Carol Weston, Family, Grief, Growing Up, Loss, Love, and Middle Grade Books; and be sure to follow along with our Selfie and a Shelfie series.