AUTHOR JUSTINA CHEN ROARS FOR LIBRARIES
Today we’re thrilled to welcome acclaimed author Justina Chen to Library Lions. Check out her newest book and hear her Roar!
Shana is officially on a Boy Moratorium. After a devastating breakup, she decides it’s time to end the plague of Mr. Wrongs and devote herself to her true passion: photography.
Enter Quattro, the undeniably intriguing lacrosse player who slams into Shana one morning in Seattle. Sparks don’t just fly; they ignite—and so does Shana’s interest. But just as she’s about to rethink her ban on boys, she receives crushing news: Her dad is going blind.
Shana and her parents vow to make the most of the time her father has left to see, so they plan a photo safari to Machu Picchu. But even as Shana travels away from Quattro, she can’t get him out of her mind.
Of all my novels, A Blind Spot for Boys was the most fun to write. Machu Picchu, a bedbug sniffing dog, a girl who puts herself on a Boy Moratorium? Those were such fun elements and balanced some of the more serious themes in the book. Seeing your blind spots clearly—the blind spots we have for our mistakes (especially the ones we keep making over and over and over again). The blind spots we have for people. The blind spots we have for our past.
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My second home when I was growing up was the Cupertino Public Library. I would spend hours and hours in the library, browsing books first in their children’s section when I was in elementary school, then in the adult section as I grew up to be a teen. The few YA books at that time were housed in slender rounders on the second floor that I would check every visit in hopes that a new book had been written for girls my age.
This deeply ingrained memory of wanting stories that reflected me propelled one of the literacy projects readergirlz spearheaded, Operation Teen Book Drop (Operation TBD)For a number of years, we partnered with Young Adult Library ServicesAssociation (YALSA), publishers, Children’s Hospitals and libraries to get 30,000 YA novels into the hands of teens around the country.
Celebrating librarians and teachers who work so hard to match books to teens drove Janet Lee Carey, Dia Calhoun, Lorie Ann Grover, and I to create readergirlz.
I’d like to give a personal shout out to Michelle Lane for organizing a fantastic Northwest book festival. Through A Cavalcade of Authors thousands of teens have been able to meet with their favorite authors because of her, her vision, and her team of literacy-minded volunteers.
One of my greatest joys as an author are my visits to middle and high schools where I get to spend time with remarkable students, teachers, and librarians.
One of the most memorable visits was to Charlotte Country Day School in North Carolina. Megan Fink is a truly wonderful librarian who worked with media specialists to sponsor a multicultural day where I had the privilege of being the keynote speaker. The school district bused in a couple of hundred of students to Charlotte Country Day so they could hear me. On display outside the auditorium was a student’s senior art project: a pair of wings crafted from maps and inspired by my novel, North of Beautiful. I was beyond touched that my words could catalyze a young woman to create art.