We’re pleased to be hosting Deb Caletti and her latest novel, The Epic Story of Every Living Thing on the TBR and Beyond Book Tour. We’ll be talking to Deb about her latest release, where we’ll learn about the inspiration behind the story and so much more.
Go take a look!
About The Epic Story of Every Living Thing
From the award-winning author of Honey, Baby, Sweetheart comes a gorgeous and fiercely feminist young adult novel. When a teen travels to Hawaii to track down her sperm donor father, she discovers the truth about him, about the sunken shipwreck that’s become his obsession, and most of all about herself.
Harper Proulx has lived her whole life with unanswered questions about her anonymous sperm donor father. She’s convinced that without knowing him, she can’t know herself. When a chance Instagram post connects Harper to a half sibling, that connection yields many more and ultimately leads Harper to uncover her father’s identity.
So, fresh from a painful breakup and still reeling with anxiety that reached a lifetime high during the pandemic, Harper joins her newfound half siblings on a voyage to Hawaii to face their father.
The events of that summer, and the man they discover—a charismatic deep-sea diver obsessed with solving the mystery of a fragile sunken shipwreck—will force Harper to face some even bigger questions: Who is she? Is she her DNA, her experiences, her successes, her failures? Is she the things she loves—or the things she hates? Who she is in dark times? Who she might become after them?
Content Warning: anxiety & social media/phone addiction
About Deb Caletti
Deb Caletti is the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of nearly twenty books for adults and young adults, including Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, a finalist for the National Book Award, and A Heart in a Body in the World, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book.
Her books have also won the Josette Frank Award for Fiction, the Washington State Book Award, and numerous other state awards and honors, and she was a finalist for the PEN USA Award. She lives with her family in Seattle.
Interview with Deb Caletti
We spoke to Deb Caletti about her upcoming novel, The Epic Story of Every Living Thing. Here’s what she had to say…
Q1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I fell in love with books, hard, when I was about six and read Ramona the Pest. I saw myself in Ramona. Even if I didn’t have these words for it then, I realized the magic and power of books. I started writing my own stories right around then. I might not have realized I wanted to be a writer, exactly, but I’d already developed the need to write.
Q2. Your latest book is The Epic Story of Every Living Thing – what was the inspiration behind the story?
In The Epic Story of Every Living Thing, Harper has an anonymous, sperm donor father who she’s sure holds the answers to her real self, one who is more real than the girl, girl, girl in the Instagram squares.
She’s also a young woman who’s under pressure in a noisy, stressful world, just after the worst of the pandemic – pressure to achieve academically, to shine on social media, to succeed both now and in the future. She’s feeling pressure from a recent break-up, too, all of which feed her anxiety.
Over the past few years, before the pandemic, I’d been thinking a lot about young people like Harper, especially young women, who are under huge stress from academics and expectations and social media and awful world events that are so much out of our control.
So, during the pandemic? I was really thinking about them. I wanted to explore the big questions about identity and connection, family and love, and how we get through hard stuff.
Who am I, and what matters? How do we survive the shocking and unforeseen things that happen? I also wanted to talk about anxiety again, now at an all-time high. I wanted to say, I hear you. Me too.
Q3. What would you say makes this story different in the Young Adult genre?
I’m not really sure. I hope it has more similarities than differences, but I do try to explore issues and feelings in ways that are both complicated and subtle. I try to respect my readers’ desire for a book that makes them think, and one that makes them feel things deeply.
Q4. This story has themes of anxiety and social media/phone addiction. What made you want to write about these specific themes?
I don’t know about you, but in the fall of 2020, I was anxious. I struggle with anxiety generally, but add in a global pandemic and awful world events, and it started to feel pretty rough to manage.
One thing I had no doubt about: time online and on social media was making this anxiety worse. The message that kept hitting and hitting as I kept scrolling and scrolling was that imminent disaster was everywhere, likely to happen at any moment. I was beginning to wonder, too, if I knew who that woman was, that woman in a square, looking at a square. I wondered if I could care about anything, in the caring about the everything.
And I was worrying that many of us were experiencing these issues, most especially young women, who, I kept reading, were feeling the effects of social media in alarming degrees. Social media use is deeply linked to both anxiety and plummeting self-esteem. The scrolling, the noise, the sense that we’re constantly in danger (and not measuring up while we’re at it), hurts.
If I was experiencing all of these things, if I was scrolling in the middle of the night, my face lit in a circle of doom-light, how might young people feel right now with all of this? How were they managing the constant assault of information? How were they coping with being so seen and so unseen at the same time? This seemed particularly important right now to talk about.
Q5. What’s next for Deb Caletti?
My next YA novel, The Last Unspoken Word, will be coming in 2023. It’s about a young woman who travels from Texas to Oregon in order to get an abortion, hearing the stories of many women along the way. I hope you’ll look for it.
Epic Book Society – Interview
Library of Becca – Review & Favorite Quotes
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