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!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Guest Post: Laura Resau on The Indigo Notebook + Giveaway!

The lovely Laura Resau is here to talk about her new novel, and to give away a copy to one lucky commenter. Welcome, Laura!

Hi, everyone! I met some of you readergirlz in May, when Red Glass was featured. Glad to be here again in your lovely company! My excuse for coming back? On October 13th, my new book—The Indigo Notebook—will be released. It's the first of three novels in my new travel-adventure-romance series—I'm so excited about its debut!

The story is about a fifteen-year-old girl, Zeeta, who lives in a different country every year with her flighty, English-teaching mom. Zeeta's life has been packed with adventure, but she wants the "normal life" she sees in American magazine ads. This year, in the colorful marketplace of Otavalo, in the Ecuadorian Andes, an American teenager named Wendell asks Zeeta to help him search for his birth parents. The quest leads them to an indigenous village, where they become entangled in mysteries, old secrets, and danger. Zeeta's and Wendell's search brings them closer together, and closer to fulfilling their greatest wishes. Now they must ask themselves: Is the truth worth pursuing, no matter what? Is it possible that a surprising reality might be better than a long-held fantasy? And most of all, what is it that will truly make their spirits fly?

The seeds of this story were planted while I was on a research trip to Ecuador a few years ago. I was spending time in indigenous communities around Otavalo to gain deeper understanding of my friend Maria Virginia Farinango's girlhood. (We were writing her memoir, entitled The Queen of Water, available Spring 2011). During my research, a local friend of mine told me about an adopted teenage boy who came to his indigenous community looking for his birth parents… it turned out this boy was my friend's biological half-brother! I was fascinated by the details of his story, and couldn't stop thinking about it. A couple years later, my husband and I decided to adopt a baby from Guatemala. During the eight months we were waiting for our son to come home, I spent lots of time reading books about adoption, going to adoption workshops, and thinking about how my son might feel about his adoption throughout his childhood and teen years. These reflections and ideas emerge in Wendell's storyline.

Zeeta and Layla's wandering life is something I've often fantasized about. For two years, I taught English in Mexico and traveled quite a bit around Latin America. I met many wanderers who taught English for a while in one country, then, feeling restless, moved on to another country. On one hand, it seemed like a fascinating and stimulating way to live, and part of me wanted to try it out (well, I sort of did—from age 18-27, I lived in Maryland, New Orleans, France, Mexico, Newfoundland, Arizona, and Colorado.) Another part of me loves feeling settled in a cozy home, surrounded by close friends, with a strong connection to my community. In a way, I explored these two conflicting parts of myself through Zeeta and Layla's relationship.

Zeeta's sure that "a normal life" is the only thing that will make her happy, but once her wish is on the verge of coming true, she questions her assumptions about happiness. I've often fallen into the "happiness trap"—convincing myself that I'll only be happy *IF* I get this one specific thing. For a while, I thought that having a baby was the only thing that could make me truly happy. Then, after my trips to Ecuador (which I detail in an Author's Note), I realized that adopting a baby could make me happy, too. (And YES-- my son makes me happy beyond words!)

I hope this book encourages readers to think about their own assumptions surrounding happiness, and opens their minds to new possibilities. I'd love it if this series inspires readers to travel the world, learn new languages, and explore unfamiliar cultures. And I hope the mystical elements of the story help you find magic in your own lives!

Here's a picture of me when I was sixteen (right). I was smiling EXTRA-BIG because I'd just gotten off my braces! (I was convinced that having my braces off would instantly bring me to the pinnacle of happiness, of course.) The photo was taken at school… oh, how those uncomfortable plastic orange chairs bring back memories…

Thanks for reading, girlz! You can go to my website to find out more about The Indigo Notebook!

To win a copy of Laura's new book, just comment below and tell us about a time when you fell for the happiness trap... or what brings you true happiness. We'll notify a winner by email next week!


Vonna said...

What a wonderful book, Laura. I fell in love with Zeeta and her world.

Wicked Walker said...

This sounds like a great book, thanks for offering it up!

Eleni said...

Please enter me! I feel true happiness when I am reading. I love to escape to a different world where I get lost in my imagination.


A Lil Sumpin' Sumpin' said...

Wow! What an exciting life you have lived. I am eager to read your books. I have also traveled quite a bit and feel like those adventures bring me the most happiness- both in experiencing them and then in remembering them. Of course, the happiness trap comes in when you start expecting travel to satisfy you or be transcendent in some way. I have to always remember to push my expectations to the side and just enjoy whatever happens!


Tena said...

what an awesome story!

The thing that brings me the most love and joy is my hubby and our 3 boys, books, wine and my faith


Ann Diana Dinh, said...

What brings me true happiness is the love of my life, Brian Thai!


Shelf Elf said...

Laura - congratulations on the book. It sounds like a blend of all sorts of my favourite things: travel, romance, family. I cannot wait to read it.

When I'm happiest?

Sunday night at my house when my guy is making our dinner and I'm on the couch, reading a book, with my cat on my lap purring and my dog snoozing next to us on his bed. I listen to the guy tinkering around in the kitchen and every so often he brings out a spoonful of something for me to taste. I look at my pets and I feel lucky that they love to be close to me. I feel like everything is right and warm and full. I always count my blessings on Sunday night.

Laura Resau said...

Thanks for your lovely comments, everyone!

I agree with Shelf Elf-- it's often the simple, cozy times (like sitting on the sofa and drinking tea while my toddler and husband play ukulele or something silly) when I find myself feeling happiest.

And of course, having adventures while traveling brings me joy. I agree with liznwyrk that it's best when you don't have particular expectations, but just throw open your arms and embrace whatever comes your way... ;)

jpetroroy said...

I feel true happiness when I'm with my husband and two cats, just relaxing.

jpetroroy (At) gmail (dot) com

MissA said...

I love that your books are focused on traveling the world, learning new languages and exploring different cultures. I'm alll about that! It's my dream to finally be fluent in Spanish and then learn Mandarin Chinese :D I'm envious that you have traveled so much and I hope to do the same!
I find true happiness when I'm reading. Also I fell for the happiness trap by thinking that having a boyfriend would make me happy. It did, but not all the time.
Thank you so much for this wonderful opportuinity!

willbprez (at) aol (dot) com

Cari said...

My true happiness is when I can settle in at the end of the day with all the loose ends tied up. No chores left undone or things to do - I can relax without putting things off. :)
neohippy10 hotmail

Llehn said...

True happiness for me is when I can take the time to do the things I really want to do and not worry about making a living!


brizmus said...

Enter me! This book sounds great!

I used to think I could only be happy if had a PhD. Then, halfway through, I realized that it was actually making me miserable. So I stopped and went to explore the world teaching English!

Kate Fuller said...

Reading and traveling are probably the two things that make me the most happy.

Ginny said...

Happiness trap, probably graduating high school. You think of you can just get out of high school, life will be so much better (coincides with turning 18 I think as well)

Yan said...

I guess I would call this a part relief and part happiness--finishing all my work. I'm talking about current assignments and future assignment. I love watching/reading sweet and sappy scenes 'cause they're so deliriously fun and happy to watch/read.

Priya said...

I'm mostly happy when I'm reading or doing something I really enjoy without having to worry about homework, etc.


Shawna L. said...

Shawna Lewis

Seeing my Kids do well in somethings makes me happy. A really good book makes me happy a song that touches my heart makes me happy just being alive really makes me happy!!
Thanks for this chance to win you book how cool I can't wait for it to come out!!!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.