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, March 4, 2010

Story Secrets: SPLIT by Swati Avasthi

Would you believe I met Swati Avasthi, 2010 debut author of SPLIT, in the elevator at a writing conference? (See below on how to win a copy!) Here's how it went down:

Me (spotting Swati and realizing I have to figure out how to put on my red Indian sari, given to me by husband's relatives, for the Red Party that eve): You're Indian! You can help me! Will you help me?

Swati: Uh, sure.

After that, we were fast friends. So I'm very excited to now welcome Swati to my blog to share Story Secrets for her debut novel, SPLIT, on shelves now! (Btw, catch more YA Story Secrets here.)


16-year-old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother Christian with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father’s fist) and a secret. He tries to move on -- new friends, new school, new job -- but all his changes can’t make him forget what he left behind: his mother, who is still trapped with his dad. Split is about what happens after. After you have gotten out, how do you begin to live again?

Swati: Split grew out my experiences when I coordinated a domestic violence legal clinic in Chicago. In the three years I worked there, I saw thousands of abuse victims. Women, men, and their children sought civil orders of protection at the clinic. And I listened their stories. Once, as a woman relayed a particularly brutal incident while her two children sat beside her, I asked if she'd like an intern to look after the children. She said, no, they had seen it anyway.

I went home that night thinking, What would it be like to be a witness? What would that do to a child? And, I was conflicted about the woman I was supposed to help -- their mother. Was she responsible? What was her duty to her children and to herself? I knew that I was falling into the trap of victim blaming, but couldn't find my way out. Eventually, I gave this problem to my character, Jace, to see what he could make of the conundrum...

Click here to read the rest, see the trailer, and enter to win a copy of SPLIT!


Melissa Walker said...

Ooh, heavy. And fascinating. I love the real-experience part when authors bring it. So great.

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