Author: Jessica Verdi

Sunday Street Team: Interview with Jessica Verdi

Posted August 23, 2015 by Emily in Blog Tour, Giveaway, interview, Special Feature / 0 Comments

Sunday Street Team: Interview with Jessica VerdiWhat You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi
Published by Sourcebooks on August 4th 2015
Pages: 320
Format: ebook
Source: Free for Review, Netgalley
Goodreads

It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?

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I’m so excited to have Jessica Verdi on my blog today. I really liked What You Left Behind. I was lucky enough to read an ARC of it and I wrote a review earlier this month.

Thanks for having me on your blog, Emily!

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your background.day

I live in Brooklyn, NY, which is one of my favorite cities in the world. I love watching TV and movies, reading, and traveling. I pursued a career in musical theater for ten years before writing my first book. It was never published, but it made me realize how much I loved storytelling, and I went on to get my MFA in Writing for Children.

2.  Do you have any pets? Tell us about them! (Pictures would be great!)

Yes, I have a dog named Francis. HeÂ’s an old rescue dog and is just the coolest.

verdidog

3.  What is the most impulsive thing you’ve ever done?

I booked a trip to Thailand to volunteer at an elephant sanctuary after watching an online video of one of the sanctuaryÂ’s elephant babies rolling around and being cute.

4. Tell us about your latest book.

What You Left Behind is the story of a teen boy named Ryden whose girlfriend got pregnant and subsequently had to stop her cancer treatments. The book begins six months after her death—and six months after the birth of their daughter.

5. Would you like to live in the world your book is based in? Why or why not?

I guess I actually already do live in the world the book is based in—we all do! I got the idea for the book from an article I read about something very similar happening in real life.

6. If you could sit down and give your characters some advice, what would you tell them?

Try your best. It will be good enough.

7. Which of your characters would you like to be friends with and why?

I love them all! IÂ’d love to be friends with Joni because she would be a blast to hang out with, IÂ’d love to be friends with Ryden because he would always have an interesting perspective to add to things, and IÂ’d love to be friends with Alan because heÂ’s cool and loyal.

8. How can readers discover more about you and you work?

They can follow me on Twitter at @jessverdi, and visit my website: www.jessicaverdi.com.

9. What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

I tend to write about tough, sometimes sensitive issues, but I also try to infuse everything I write with humor and optimism.

About the Author:

Jessica Verdi lives in Brooklyn, NY, and received her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School. She loves seltzer, Tabasco sauce, TV, vegetarian soup, flip-flops, and her dog. Visit her at www.jessicaverdi.com and follow her on Twitter @jessverdi.

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ARC Review: What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi

Posted August 4, 2015 by Emily in Review / 1 Comment

ARC Review: What You Left Behind by Jessica VerdiWhat You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 4th 2015
Pages: 320
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley, Free for Review
Buy on Amazon

It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?

hi_res_lined_paper_texture_by_merileekitty

Sometimes, when I’m reading, I connect to a book on a very personal level. This book was one of those very personal reads for me. I don’t make a secret of it. I’m a cancer survivor and in March it will be 13 years. Now, at 20, I was a little older than Meg when I was diagnosed. I had just started dating the man who would become my husband but I knew I loved him even then. Cancer is tough, it saps you of your strength. It makes you feel completely out of control. However, maybe the worst part of cancer is having to watch your loved ones watch you have cancer. In this book, we only get to know Meg through her journal entries and through Ryden’s memories but I felt like Jessica Verdi wrote her spot on. This book brought back a ton of memories for me, good and bad. It was a very emotional read.

Now, that isn’t to say that I agree 100% with Meg’s decisions in this book. I don’t. I wouldn’t have done the same things that she did. However, I can understand why she made the decisions that she made. Cancer is obviously terrifying but it also causes you to readjust your priorities. Suddenly everything you care about and your life’s goals can be flipped on their heads. It doesn’t mean that Meg was in the right, but I definitely understood how she felt.

I also really empathized with Ryden. It was heartbreaking to watching him struggle after loosing Meg. He suddenly has grown up responsibilities that are in conflict with his desires for his last year of high school. Part of growing up is learning to make sacrifices and its not different for Ryden. Unfortunately everything just hits him at once.

I don’t read a lot of YA contemporary. Its not my preferred genre. However, if you are going to read just one contemporary novel this year, you should read this one. Jessica Verdi’s characters are realistic and sympathetic. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that she has lost someone to cancer. She has a true understanding of  the emotional toll a serious illness can take on a person. What You Left Behind was a beautiful novel about redemption and forgiveness.

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