Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Monday, July 10, 2017

An Inside Look #25 - Season #TWO (AUTHOR Interview)

An Inside Look - With Melissa Savage (Author of Lemons)

*This was a new feature I added to the blog during the summer of 2016.  It was a shot in the dark that it would work, but much to my surprise; it took off and over the last year I conducted 22 interviews with a variety of authors.  

*It has been such an honor to connect with authors and "chat" about their novel, characters, and thoughts about the story.

*I didn't have time for interviews during the school year, but I'm excited to be back for "season #TWO".  

*I'm hoping to run this feature at least once a week.  There is nothing more satisfying than sharing and promoting a book/author/character that I have fallen in love with.  

*Thank you to Melissa for being the THIRD author of this new season.  I truly appreciate it.  

*Here are links to the first TWENTY-FOUR interviews…

*I actually picked this up as an ARC last November at #NCTE in Atlanta.  It made the rounds with my readers during the school year, but I didn't get to it until June.  I remember the publishing rep RAVING about this story and she was right.  I absolutely loved this story.

*I could not put it down and pretty much read the entire thing in a sitting or two.  As I was reading it, I knew I was going to share it with my 2017/2018 fourth grade class.

*The best news was when I found out that Melissa Savage is actually from the Twin Cities just like me.  I'm hoping we will be connect during the school year.

*Here is a link to my review of the story...

My Book Review

*Thank you Melissa for writing this novel for middle-grade readers and taking the time to share your thoughts with us here on the blog.  

*Here are the responses she shared with me and I'm thrilled to share them with you...

by Melissa Savage (Released May 2, 2017)

How did you come to know Lemonade?

I had the idea to write a story about a character named Lemonade, after the popular adage when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I knew this character would come across a very difficult problem in her life that she would struggle with, however at the time, I didn’t know what that adversity would be. In the end, I decided she would face a very difficult loss, as some kids do. I wanted the focus of the story to be about the hope and healing that would come from the kindness, friendship and love she received from the new friends and family should would meet along the way.

What do you think is Lemonade’s most admirable quality?

I think Lemonade’s most admirable quality is the perseverance to find her happiness despite the struggles life gives her.

Is there anything you wish Lemonade would have changed or done differently in her story?

I think overcoming grief is a very difficult lemon for anyone and each person’s path is their own when it comes to healing from loss. I think Lemonade comes through her grief with both ups and downs, which is very human. Although I would wish for Lemonade or anyone else to avoid life’s lemons altogether, it isn’t our reality. However, to be able to come through adversity much stronger and smarter while holding on to the gratitude of our experiences is a gift, even if it can take some time to see it. And Lemonade does find her way, despite some rocky moments along the way.

How did you research Lemonade and the circumstances she found herself in?

Unfortunately, much of my research originated with my own loss after our son, Tobin, passed away in 2012 at nine months of age. Since that time, I have met many other children and adults who have struggled with a devastating loss of their own. So many people have a story of loss that affects them very deeply, yet we often feel isolated in our grief because people don’t want to talk about it or hear about it. I wanted to write a story about sharing memories of lost loved ones, about the real feelings people can be afraid to talk about, and about the love and support of others and how that can be very healing to someone experiencing the pain of loss.

What do you think Lemonade can offer to other young people that are experiencing similar situations to what she went through?

My greatest wish for this story is that young people find a great deal of hope as they walk with Lemonade on her journey of healing. I think story can be so powerful in many ways for all of us. Not only can story entertain us, it can help us to be empathetic to another’s plight. It can teach us about life experiences we haven’t experienced ourselves. It can offer us a friend who shares the same struggles and help us to feel we are not so alone. And finally, story can be a guide to help us learn adaptive coping for later in life when we come across a lemon we hadn’t expected. It is my hope that each reader may find something in this story that speaks to their own heart.

Do you and Lemonade share any similarities?

I would say just like Lemonade, I am always searching for the positive, regardless of the lemons life gives. I feel that despite our sadness, there is always gifts to be discovered in the experiences we’ve had. Even if it takes some time to find them.

What was the hardest scene to write about Lemonade?

The most difficult scenes for me to write in this story were the grief scenes. I’ve been told by many readers that they have cried while reading these scenes. I must share that I cried while writing them.

Who do you think was Lemonade's biggest supporter and why?

I think Lemonade was very fortunate to have so many supporters in her corner as she dealt with the loss of her mother. Isn’t that something we all wish we had when we’ve had to endure something difficult? However, I think Charlie is probably her biggest champion and will continue to be.

Why do you think young people/children can handle loss like Lemonade and Tobin in ways that sometimes adults can’t?

I’ve worked many years as a therapist and in my work with children and families I have seen great hardship, including loss. I believe that children have a quiet wisdom about them and an innate resilience that, as adults, we can sometimes lose along the way. However, they also need our guidance in navigating hardships. I know that many children have experienced loss or may know someone else who has. At the very least, these children are all too familiar with what goes on in our world today and they need our guidance to understand it at a developmentally appropriate level as they learn to sustain their own coping. And story is a wonderful avenue in which to bear witness to experiences that help children learn empathy or feel they are not alone. Loss is one of the most difficult things we will go through in our lives. However, through hardship we find strength, a sense of who we are and who we will become. What an amazing lesson to teach our children.

What do you think Lemonade is doing at the present time? 

If Lemonade was ten in 1975 that would make her 52 years old today. I see her either working in Willow Creek as a Veterinarian or . . .  maybe making a run for the first female president in our next election (with Tobin by her side as Vice President of course!).

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