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REVIEW:  Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

REVIEW: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

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Dear Ms. McGarry,

I was first introduced to your work by Jane, who sang the praises of Pushing the Limits. I read it many months later, curious about this upper YA/new adult thing that was just beginning to take flight. Although dubious, I enjoyed it and read Dare You To eagerly when it came out. Beth’s story firmly placed you into my favorite authors category so like many of your other fans, I anticipated Isaiah’s book.

We first met Isaiah in Pushing the Limits. We also met Beth, the girl in his life. At the time, I loved Isaiah and Beth and assumed they were going to feature as a couple in a future book. Except that didn’t happen, and Beth fell in love with someone else.

Crash into You opens with Isaiah desperate to make some money. This sends him back into the world of street racing, where it puts him into the notice of people he’d rather avoid. But this choice also allows him to meet Rachel.

Rachel comes from a rich family that doesn’t understand her and has suffocated her. As I’ve said in the past, I tend to have no patience for poor rich girl stories but I felt immediate sympathy for her. It’s hard not to. She was essentially born to be a replacement for the dead sister she never met and told this every single day of her life. That’s just great of her family, don’t you think?

But Rachel loves cars and she loves driving her white Mustang fast. A chance meeting sends her into the world of street racing, but bad luck puts her into the sights of the guy who controls that world. However, it also puts Isaiah into her debt and he wants nothing more than to return the favor.

While I loved that Beth found her hero in Dare You To, part of me was devastated by what that meant for Isaiah. Despite what she may have thought, he loved her. Sometimes, though, that’s not enough. It wasn’t until this book that I fully understood how terrible Beth and Isaiah were for each other. They enabled each other in the worst ways. Some people may say they didn’t challenge each other. I would say they didn’t encourage each other to be the best they could be.

Because of her family dynamic, Rachel grew up coddled and protected. For some people, this results in a complete inability to handle the world. For Rachel, however, this gave her a complex. If you told you’re weak and that you need help all the time, you inevitably believe it. Especially if it comes from your family. I found it immensely unfair of the men in her family to put the burden of her mother’s happiness on her. That’s terrible. I’m not diminishing her sister’s death. Losing a family member is awful, and losing them to cancer is one of the worst ways possible. Believe me, I know. But my respect for Rachel’s father and brothers was sorely tested.

I don’t have an anxiety disorder so I can’t comment on whether the portrayal was accurate. Nothing about Rachel’s behavior pinged me as Othered or glossed over. I definitely feel that Rachel’s need to hide it from her family was all too true, especially given their past reactions to it. It’s not the end of the world if your child has an anxiety disorder, and it’s certainly not a terminal disease like cancer. It just needs to be managed. Again, her family’s treatment of it made me less sympathetic towards their shenanigans. But as I’m not confident about my knowledge of social anxiety, I’d appreciate it if anyone with better familiarity could comment on this particular depiction.

Rachel’s relationship with Isaiah epitomizes what I believe a good, healthy romance to be. Falling in love makes you want to be the best version of yourself. Being with Isaiah encouraged Rachel to be braver, to be the person she always wanted to be but felt she couldn’t be because her family insisted otherwise.

As for Isaiah, he needed someone like Rachel to shake up his world. He definitely has a rescuer complex. I didn’t notice it as much with Beth because in Pushing the Limits, she was such a trainwreck in need of rescuing all the time. With Rachel, however, who wants to be independent and able to do things on her own, it becomes startling clear. Isaiah believes he can take care of everything and be the protector. Sometimes, though, being strong means being able to let go and allow the person you love to make that mistake. Because stumbling and falling will allow them to get stronger. Rachel was the one who made him realize this, and I think that was key in making their romance believable to me.

On the other hand, I was a little uncertain about how believable Rachel’s social anxiety made her a laughingstock among everyone in town. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely think it would have set her apart as “that weird girl.” It’s been a while but I remember high school. But the way everyone would laugh when she’d speak publicly didn’t ring true. Awkward, uncomfortable silence, yes. Hushed whispers about “the weird girl failing” again, yes, Laughter? Maybe it’s because we never really saw the inside of Rachel’s private school and the social dynamics at play. Are readers just supposed to assume that it’s mean girlish because it’s a private school for rich kids?

I also wish we could have seen Rachel racing cars more. I understand that probably would have messed with her character arc but it would have been nice to see the racing lessons Isaiah gave her on the side. And of course, Rachel messing around with cars more would have been great. I loved that Rachel knew the in and outs of cars, and that she wanted to open a specialty garage with Isaiah. Seeing that kind of love hands on, particularly from a female character doing a “non-traditionally female” hobby, is always a plus in my book.

Oh, and I loved Abby. I loved how she attaches herself to Rachel as her best friend and doesn’t let go. I hope there’s a book about her in the future.

After worrying about poor Isaiah in previous books, Crash into You left me satisfied that he found his match. I love the series you’ve set up here, weaving through this network of friends introduced by Noah and Echo. And even though the next book is about West, who I haven’t quite forgiven for his blatant disregard of his little sister, I’m looking forward to it too. B

My regards,
Jia

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The DA3 Interview & Giveaway: Foster Care

The DA3 Interview & Giveaway: Foster Care

Three diverse books sharing one common thread: that’s the idea behind the DA³ Interview. All of today’s books include characters who are, or have been, part of the foster care system. First, meet the books:

DA3 Foster Care

Picture This is Jacqueline Sheehan’s follow-up to her best-selling women’s fic Lost & Found.

The foster child in this story is seeking her biological father, whom she believes is the late husband of main character Rocky Pelligrino. Healing from her loss, and in the midst of making a new life without her husband, Rocky is now faced with a mystery that could keep her tied to the past.

Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits is a debut YA. Noah is willing to make any sacrifice to reunite what’s left of his family, but what he really needs is trust. Unfortunately, that’s in short supply because the system that was supposed to protect him let him down. Classmate Echo has been betrayed, too, by her family and her own memory, so when these two have to rely on each other, some thick walls have to come down first.

In A Home for Hannah, by Patricia Davids, an ailing mother brings Miriam Kauffman back to the Amish community she left behind years ago.

She thinks she’s doing rather well at suppressing the pain and resentment that caused her to leave in the first place, but then a baby is abandoned on her doorstep.

The protagonist’s six word memoir:

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: One man, one dog, and me.

KATIE MCGARRY: Echo: Scars on arms and lost memory. Noah: Scars on heart and lost parents.

PATRICIA DAVIDS: Amazing how a baby changes everything.

 

 The heroine is…

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: …a psychologist who takes a leave of absence from her job to become an Animal Control Warden.

KATIE MCGARRY: …a brilliant artist, a student, and before the accident she used to be on the dance team.

PATRICIA DAVIDS: …an ex-Amish woman [and] a critical care nurse who fosters Amish teenage runaways.

 

What readers will love about the hero:

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: I hope that readers will love Rocky’s willingness to make a complete idiot of herself in certain circumstances. She is quite impulsive and makes more than a few mistakes socially. It was completely fun to write about this aspect of an otherwise controlled psychologist.

KATIE MCGARRY: Noah is extremely loyal and unconditionally loves his younger brothers.

PATRICIA DAVIDS: Sheriff Nick Bradley is a hunky, cop with a darling sense of humor.

 

The first kiss happens… 

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: …in a driveway.

KATIE MCGARRY: …in front of the fountain dedicated to Noah’s deceased parents.

PATRICIA DAVIDS: …in the hospital waiting room.

 

A scene you vividly remember writing…

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: I can’t tell you about the scene that I remember most vividly, because it would be a plot spoiler. But I remember all of the scenes where Rocky is shooting her bow. I step into her body, see the target, feel her/my arm pull the bow back, and release. I feel her frustration when she misses the target, and her burning muscles when she has practiced for hours.

KATIE MCGARRY: The cemetery scene between Echo and Noah. There is a paragraph in that scene that discusses scar tissue on one’s soul. To me, that moment between those two characters is the heart of the novel.

PATRICIA DAVIDS: A Home for Hannah was written a few months after my husband passed away from a brain tumor. I was at the cemetery one day when I noticed some small mementos left on other graves nearby. I went home and wrote the scene where Miriam finally goes to her brother’s grave. (He was killed in a high-speed chase after he stole a car. Nick was the officer pursuing him and she blamed Nick for her brother’s death.) As Miriam kneels beside her brother’s tombstone, she notices small silver foil stars, some new, some weathered, in the grass around the stone. Nick has quit smoking, but he chews gum. Each time he opens a stick, he folds the foil into a star and puts it in his pocket. Miriam is confronted with proof that Nick mourns her brother, too, and has been to the grave numerous times–something she has never found the courage to do.

 

About the foster child characters…

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: One of the main characters in the book, Natalie, had lived in foster care for about 14 years. We gradually learn more and more about her background, the death of her mother, and the toll that early trauma took on her. But should we believe everything that Natalie tells us about her foster families?

KATIE MCGARRY:  Noah and his younger brothers entered the foster care system when their parents died in a house fire. Through these characters, the reader sees the extremes of the system, highlighting both the good and the bad. Noah’s experiences in the system positively and negatively reshape his personality several times throughout his life.

PATRICIA DAVIDS: Miriam hears a disturbance outside mother’s farmhouse late one night. She thinks another Amish teenager is seeking her help to leave the community, but she finds a baby on the doorstep, instead, and sees a buggy driving away. Miriam’s mother has remained Amish. She believes the unknown Amish mother will return for her child and insists that they keep the child until she does. Miriam, as a nurse, has a duty to report the baby as abandoned.

Ohio is a state that has a “Safe Haven” law. If a child under one month of age is left at a hospital, a fire station or with the police, no crime is committed and the parents have relinquished all rights. The child is placed in foster care and can be adopted immediately. If a mother leaves her baby anywhere else, its child abandonment and a crime, hence Miriam and Nick’s dilemma. Does leaving a baby with a nurse constitute a Safe Haven act or not? The nearest hospital is almost 30 miles away, a very long trip in a buggy. To make matters worse, an unsigned note says the mother will be back for her child, but it isn’t safe for her to keep the baby with her now. It it’s a Safe Haven act, legally the sheriff can’t try to find the mother. If it’s not a Safe Haven act, he can search for her but when he finds her he will have to charge her with a crime.

 

Whether it’s from the news or personal experience, I think everyone knows stories of adoption and foster care that range from inspiring to horrifying. What would you say most influenced how you depicted foster care in your story?

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: The main influence for me was working with college students. I was a psychologist at college counseling centers for nearly twenty years and worked with students who had miraculously emerged from foster care into college. The first time that I met a freshman student who told me that she didn’t know where to go over Thanksgiving break, I was baffled. The residence halls closed during Thanksgiving. She told me that because she was 18, she no longer qualified for foster care and she simply had no place to go. It was a defining moment for me. I helped her contact the advisor for international students and they swept her up into their group, but I was humbled by her sheer grit and determination. Since then, I learned that some foster homes were wonderful, some were adequate, and some were awful.

KATIE MCGARRYPushing the Limits was influenced by both the inspiring and the horrifying aspects of the system. Unfortunately, there are cracks in the system whether the cracks are caused by neglect or not enough funding or staffing. Regardless of the reason, children can suffer.

While that can be true, there are those who work with or in the system that are one thousand percent devoted to their job and to the children they serve. They become a beacon of light to children wrapped up in darkness.

PATRICIA DAVIDS: I tried to give foster care a positive spin in my story. The baby is placed in foster care, but the social worker is sympathetic and hopes to reunite the baby with her biological mother. The heroine has fostered runaway teens and understands the struggles they face.

 

How would one of your characters define “home” or “family”?

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: Rocky is in the midst of defining family and home. Her young husband dies suddenly in Lost & Found, so she must re-define everything that she knows about home. In Picture This, she would probably say that family is a combination of those people who you are biologically related to, and those who you find along the way. She would include Cooper the dog in her family.

KATIE MCGARRY: Originally, Echo and Noah would have defined home/family as being with those they are blood-related to. As the story progresses, they both come to define home/family as being with those who love and understand them, regardless of blood.

PATRICIA DAVIDS: For the Amish, only God is more important than family. Because Miriam rejected the faith she grew up with, she was shunned. She misses that sense of having an extended and close-knit family support system. Nick and Hannah bring that sense of family back to her in a surprising way.

 

What’s up next?

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: I am already working on my next book. It is about adoption, but a very complicated form of adoption. The main character saves a Mayan child after a massacre and illegally adopts her. After that book, I just might return to my cast of characters with Rocky and Cooper.

KATIE MCGARRY: I’m currently working on revisions for Dare You To, a companion novel to Pushing the Limits. Dare You To follows the story of Beth, a secondary character from PTL. Dare You To is scheduled to be released in 2013.

PATRICIA DAVIDS: I have a Christmas book coming out called A Hope Springs Christmas. It’s the story of an Amish widow who agrees to become a matchmaker for her next door neighbor only to find the man she has known for years just might be a perfect match for her.

 

Your favorite book at age 10:

JACQUELINE SHEEHAN: This is a weird one for a ten year old. Hawaii by James Michener. I had learned that I could read anything, and there was something so powerful about reading his massive book that covers centuries.

KATIE MCGARRY: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

PATRICIA DAVIDS: It was a book called Beautiful Joe. It’s a story told from a dog’s point of view about the family that saved him from cruelty. I loved that story and cried every time I read it.

Many thanks to Jacqueline, Katie, and Patricia. We have some books to give to a commenter, so go forth and comment!