readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Story Secrets: BALLADS OF SUBURBIA by Stephanie Kuehnert + giveaway!

How have I not already featured this book, you ask? I was wondering that myself. Stephanie Kuehnert's BALLADS OF SUBURBIA was one of my favorite reads of 2010, so I'm thrilled to get to chat with her about it today.

I was so lucky to meet Stephanie in New York at BEA and the Teen Author Carnival (yup, yet another amazing person I met at that fabulous, blogger-created event), and she even very kindly blurbed my upcoming book, Don't Breathe a Word! What an honor that is.

Welcome, Stephanie!


There are so many ballads. Achy breaky country songs. Mournful pop songs. Then there’s the rare punk ballad, the ballad of suburbia: louder, faster, angrier . . . till it drowns out the silence.

Kara hasn’t been back to Oak Park since the end of junior year, when a heroin overdose nearly killed her and sirens heralded her exit. Four years later, she returns to face the music. Her life changed forever back in high school: her family disintegrated, she ran around with a whole new crowd of friends, she partied a little too hard, and she fell in love with gorgeous bad boy Adrian, who left her to die that day in Scoville Park. . . .

Amidst the music, the booze, the drugs, and the drama, her friends filled a notebook with heartbreakingly honest confessions of the moments that defined and shattered their young lives. Now, finally, Kara is ready to write her own.

Put simply, the book is about a group of teenagers who are hurting in the ways teenagers do hurt in real life, but adults like to pretend they don't have to deal with such things. And these teenagers take care of themselves and each other in the only ways they know how. Some of those ways are destructive, but ultimately it's a story of learning how to survive and find your inner strength.

Holly Cupala: Tell us about the story behind the story.

Stephanie Kuehnert:
I lived a lot of what is in this book. It's not an autobiography, but it is set in the town where I grew up, Oak Park, Illinois. The main character, Kara, deals with a lot of things that I dealt with, depression, the feeling of not fitting in, self-injury, distant parents who are divorcing, boyfriends that are no good for you, and her friends deal with a lot things that my friends dealt with like heroin addiction and teen pregnancy.

When I was a teenager dealing with this stuff and watching my friends go through it, I kept thinking why are there no books that deal with these topics, no stories for teens about these kinds of things. At that time in the early to mid nineties, there wasn't as much gritty, honest and real YA lit out there...

Read more of Stephanie's secrets and enter to win BALLADS OF SUBURBIA here...

~Holly Cupala


Melissa Walker said...

I love hearing Stephanie talk about this book. So close to her heart!

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thanks for having me, Holly!