Young Adult

Retro Reads with Author Skylar Dorset

I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour for The Girl Who Never Was by Skylar Dorset! While I haven’t read the book yet, I’m really excited about it!

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Today I’ve got the pleasure of having Skylar talk about some of her favorite “retro reads.” So without further ado…

Today I wanted to talk about the books I read as a child or young adult that had an influence on the reader and writer that I grew up to be, and for a second I was a little bewildered by the dizzying array laid out before me, because, honestly, I COULD LIST MILLIONS OF BOOKS.

Okay, no, I really couldn’t, maybe “millions” is a little bit of an exaggeration but YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. But, anyway, I narrowed it down to five:

(1)   “Go Dog Go”: The book I learned to read on. I can still remember being read this book as a child and looking at the words on the paper and starting to make sense of them. This book started a lifelong love affair with reading. Also, the “Do you like my hat?” / “No, I do not like your hat” exchanges started a lifelong love affair with snarky dialogue.

(2)   “Charlotte’s Web”: You always remember the first book to break your heart, right? This one was it for me. I loved this book so much that I remember wanting every book I opened from that point on to be “Charlotte’s Web.” You know that moment when you first come to terms with the fact that not every book you read will end up being your favorite book? “Charlotte’s Web” was the book that drove it home for me.

(3)   “Little Women”: I read this book so much that you should see how dog-eared my copy is. [Actually, I’ll send along a photo so you can see.] I wanted to be Jo so badly it hurt. This was also the book that made me realize that maybe your life—just the things that happen every day, just growing up and longing to be a writer and dealing with your sisters and coping with the chores—can be interesting enough to be a book. But possibly the most important thing about this book? I was so upset when Jo turned down Laurie that I immediately decided that I wanted to be a writer so that when I wrote books, I could make the ending the one that I wanted.

Sklyar's well-loved copy!
Sklyar’s well-loved copy!

(4)   “Johnny Tremain”: I could write epic poems about the influence of this book on my life. If you don’t know the story, Johnny Tremain is a silversmith-in-training in pre-Revolutionary Boston, and, through a series of events, gets caught up in the events leading to the Boston Tea Party and the shots on Lexington and Concord. A series of historical figures march in and out of the book, including, most vividly for me, Paul Revere and Dr. Joseph Warren, who have a tender and jokey friendship that was apparently based on historical fact (after Warren was killed in the Battle of Bunker Hill, Revere named his next son Joseph Warren Revere in his honor), and John Hancock, the young rich merchant who was still years away from putting pen to paper in the most famous signature in American history. The historical personages come alive in this book, become fully-fledged characters instead of just the dry names in your textbooks, and Boston itself is the shining star of the story. This is the book that triggered my lifelong love affair with the city of Boston, a place that is still astonishingly, in many ways, exactly like the Boston where that famous tea party took place.

(5)   “Watership Down”: The world-building in this book is just so amazing to me. Rabbit society is rendered in such extraordinary detail, right down to their myths. And the characters are numerous but juggled expertly on the canvas. This book was an annual read for me, and I can only hope to achieve the fluidity of its plot, its slow build to the action scenes, and the affection it manages to inspire for its characters.

Wait. Bonus. I couldn’t resist.

(6)   “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH”: It’s possible that Laurie from “Little Women” was my first literary crush, as I can’t quite remember the order in which I read these books. But Justin, the head of security in this book, was actually, weirdly, the more typical crush for me, despite the fact that he’s a rat. Or maybe because of it. Laurie is delightful in “Little Women,” but Justin is the exact character type that is my total Achilles heel. A talking rat shows up briefly in “The Girl Who Never Was,” and it’s my own secret tribute to Justin.

Thanks so much Skylar for stopping by! The Girl Who Never Was will be out on June 3, but in the meantime, feel free to visit Sklyar’s website to learn more about her and The Girl Who Never Was!

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