Girl behind the blog
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- 1 star: Wasn't my cup of tea
- 2 stars: It was okay
- 3 stars: Wasn't amazing, but was an enjoyable read
- 4 stars: Enjoyed this so much
- 5 stars: I'm in love,and obsessed
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Details: 355 pages, June 14th 2013
For the rest of the world, the movies are entertainment. For Justine, they're real life.
The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There'd be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star.
Now sixteen, Justine doesn't feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film Five at Sixteen, all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, feels like a disappointment.
But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what's on film. They've all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else's eyes.
Jennifer Castle:I chose this excerpt to share with you guys because it’s three of my favorite mini-scenes from YOU LOOK DIFFERENT IN REAL LIFE strung together.
First, we’ve got Justine and Felix. I loved writing any conversation between these two, because it’s not a simple relationship. Felix wants them to start dating, but Justine doesn’t feel that way. Still, they’re special to each other, even though they’re very different...especially when it comes to their reactions to the news that the documentary film cameras are coming back.
(Fun fact: Originally, Justine had a best friend named Taylor, and this scene was with her. But there were too many characters, and Taylor seemed kind of useless. R.I.P. Taylor. You get used to creating and then “killing” a lot of characters between a first draft and a final product. Authors are ruthless that way.)
I love Justine trying to take up smoking. She’s desperate for a prop, something obvious to show the cameras that she’s changed. But the problem is, she doesn’t know how she’s changed, or very much about herself at all these days. The cigarette makes that even more clear. Plus, this is totally how I felt whenever I tried to smoke when I was in high school.
The last mini-scene here is where we meet Rory, Justine’s former best friend and fellow film subject. Since the last movie, Rory’s been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Between Rory’s autism and Justine’s guilt about how their friendship ended, the encounter has a lot of juicy stuff going on.
One of the things I find most challenging-but-fun about writing contemporary YA fiction is that every scene, every paragraph, every conversation has to have so many layers. Everything the characters do -- even the “quiet” seemingly undramatic stuff -- is filled with history, emotions, and motivations. Just like real life, actually. It’s funny how that works. I hope you enjoy this peek at the book!
Click Read More to Read the Excerpt and Enter the Giveaway!
“Hey,” I say as I sit down across from Felix, who has his computer open on the table. “Thanks for the assist at lunch.”
“Just spreading the joy because, guess what? My visitors more than doubled since news about the film.”
He slides the laptop over so I can see the screen. It’s a graph of traffic statistics for Felix’s blog, where he posts a lot of sci-fi fan art and stills from The Big Lebowski, with what he thinks is brilliant commentary but is really stuff like “The Dude is the bomb, yo!” And then there are videos of him performing original songs on his electronic keyboard while sitting on the floor of his bedroom. His music is either brilliant or awful, I’m still not sure. I tell him it’s the former. “I’m happy you’re so happy,” I say.
“I hope my stats will climb even more between now and the start of production. Lance said they’ll be here in a month.”
“Maybe that’s enough time for me to figure out a hobby.”
Felix tilts his head and regards me with a sad familiarity. “You watch a lot of movies. Even the old ones nobody’s heard of. Being a film buff — that’s a hobby, isn’t it?”
“I think that involves way too much lying around in sweatpants to count.”
“If you start a hobby now, won’t it be obvious you’re just doing it for the cameras?”
I shrug. Yeah, maybe. Probably. That could be my “story.” Justine at sixteen, trying to find something to keep her from dying of boredom.
I glance out the window, which overlooks the sidewalk in front of Muddy Joe’s. One of the employees is on her break. She’s leaning against a tree with her apron thrown over one shoulder, smoking a cigarette. It’s this striking, almost bittersweet picture because she looks totally at peace with the world, but it’s wicked cold and I know she only gets a few minutes before having to go back to the kitchen and decorate five hundred red velvet cupcakes or something.
“Be right back,” I suddenly say to Felix. I grab my jacket and head downstairs. Outside, the snappy air hits me hard but I try to look unfazed.
The girl tips up her chin in greeting. “Justine, right?”
“Hey.” I have no idea what her name is although she’s waited on me a bunch of times, and they even wear name tags.
“Would you…can I…bum a cigarette?”
She smiles at me in this condescending, oh-you-little-high-schooler way. After a long few seconds where I get the sense I’m being appraised, she produces the pack and holds it out to me. I hook my finger around a cigarette and slide it out. She’s ready with a lighter and a hand cupped around it, and I lean forward to get the thing started.
I don’t smoke. Olivia does, sometimes, and she taught me how to do it one night when we were home alone during a thunderstorm and the power was out. I didn’t feel one way or another about it, which I took to be a sign that it wasn’t worth the trouble.
I take a drag on the cigarette, avoiding Felix’s what the hell? face in the window above. I blow the smoke out slowly, remembering Olivia’s coaching. Fight back a cough. It feels a little great. Even shivering and with the bakery girl watching, I get a sensation like, I could do this. It would give me something. All the people who wanted me to be some kind of symbol of youth in revolt would expect nothing less.
I’m on my third drag when I turn my head casually and see this sudden weirdness: the petite figure of Rory Gold walking down the street, her too-big, aggressively puffy down coat zippered all the way to her chin. She stops dead when she sees me. I’m wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt that says “STOP WARS” in the “Star Wars” logo, and the familiar blank look on Rory’s face stabs me a little right on the O.
Rory Gold and I have not spoken in almost five years. To my credit, or at least I like to think, for the last year I’ve been meaning to change that.
There are best friends Justine, whose parents are enjoying professional success, and Rory, whose family is struggling with recent job layoffs. The two families have been close since the girls were babies. Will their friendship be affected by their changing economic situations?
I wonder how the press release might read for this new film. I wonder how Lance and Leslie will figure out what happened, what I did to my friend, and how that story will get told. I’m so surprised that I blurt out, “Hi” before I can remember all the reasons not to. Rory says, “Hi,” softly. Her eyes shift to the cigarette in my hand, which I didn’t have time to hide.
We’re caught like this for many more seconds. I notice Rory’s just got her dark blonde hair cut again, super-short like it’s been since we were eleven, and the style flatters the bold features she’s grown into.
My tobacco benefactor is done with her smoke and walks past us, smirking, to get back indoors.
Then Rory speaks, addressing the cigarette. “Smoking causes one in five American deaths. It kills more people in the U.S. than AIDS, drugs, homicides, fires, and auto accidents combined.”
“I don’t really smoke,” I sputter. “I was just…” She’s locked onto it like RoboGirl with a targeting system. It still unnerves me when she does this stuff so I add, “Did you talk to Lance and Leslie? Are you doing the film this time around?”
Now she looks at me, actually at my eyes — no longer than a blink — then at the hedge next to me.
“Yes. My parents feel strongly that I should continue.”
“Mine too.” I throw the half-smoked cigarette on the ground now and rub it out with my foot the way I’ve seen Olivia do. Rory watches me. These long pauses feel way too familiar, even though it’s been years.
“Well, maybe I’ll see you, then,” I offer, “when they start shooting.”
Now Rory’s eyes meet mine once more. They dart away, as if trying to escape, then back. It’s strange to see her face straight on like that.
She asks: “Are you going to do to me what you did last time?”
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