So say readers of Polarity in Motion, who have given the book scores of 5-star reviews. It's equal parts mystery, romance, and a crushing depiction of what life can be like for today's teens.
What more need we say about this outstanding debut novel from Brenda Vicars? Let's hear from the author herself -- read on for our KBoards interview with Brenda.
Welcome, Brenda, and congratulations on your new book! In a few words, how would you describe "Polarity in Motion" to our readers?
A fifteen year old girl's nude picture shows up on the Internet, and she has no idea how the photo was made. Worse, the shot is in a wild-grinning pose that she would never have done. Everything she cares about is now at risk, especially her budding relationship with Ethan.
The book addresses some tough issues, like mental illness and online bullying. What inspired you to take on these difficult themes?
One word sums up the inspiration-students. I've learned so much from my students, and I feel called to voice issues that impact their lives. Online bullying and having unstable parents are challenges that lots of young people live with.
This is your debut novel. In the writing of it, what did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I love, love, love working with editors. It was such a gratifying experience to have the input of another person who was so invested in my manuscript. My editors, Alyssa Hall and Misti Wolanski, are my heroes.
In the book, we meet 15-year-old Polarity Weeks. Her family relationships make up a key element of the story. How would you contrast the relationship she has with her mother and her grandmother?
A. With her ever-unraveling mother, Polarity is forced into a parenting role. But the wise and wonderful grandmother understands the stress of navigating the landmines of borderline personality disorder. So the grandmother provides support for Polarity.
It must be a universal thing that we as teenagers, and probably we as adults as well, seek desperately to be seen as "normal." Please comment on how Polarity's view of the world changes as a result of the events in the book.
The biggest ah-ha for Polarity is that most people, herself included, are unaware of the lenses through which they view their world. Simply put, she learns that people don't see their own way of seeing.
Many readers have commented on how the book's dialogue is true-to-life. What are your secrets for that aspect of writing?
Lots of years working with young people and amazing editors!
Polarity in Motion would be a great selection for a book group. Do you have a set of starter questions that could help a book group dig into the book?
Yep! Questions are in the back of the book and on my website in a ready-to-print attachment. http://www.brendavicars.com/book-club/
You have a background in public education, as a teacher and principal. How did that experience influence your writing of Polarity in Motion?
I see firsthand every day that the playing field is not even for all students. I want to tell stories that expose inequities but also shine a light on the resiliency of young people who overcome.
Your book has almost 50 five-star reviews already! Are there any reviews that have particularly stood out for you?
I'm grateful for each and every review. The heartwarming glow that reader feedback provides has been an unexpected bonus of publishing. Because of your question, I reread the entries on Amazon, and each one is special. Here are a few comments that span the range: "I nearly forgot I was reading a book….If only we could see through the eyes of others….Wow! What a ride! This is the kind of book that keeps you up all night long…."
This one made me laugh. What a tribute to a character when a reader wants to scream at him! "Ethan seemed to be a strong on and off supporter of Polarity's, and his vacillations at first glance were confusing, but Brenda Vicars has mastered the air of suspense, and doling out information carefully at the precise moment I wanted to scream!"
Many authors are influenced by their reading. What are some books that you've enjoyed recently?
When I was working my way into Ethan's mind and trying to see through his eyes, I read authors of his race including Jacqueline Woodson and Walter Dean Myers. My favorites of their books were "If You Go Softly" and "Monster." When I was exploring the nuances of borderline personality disorder, I read "I Hate You, Don't Leave Me" by Jerold J. Kreisman MD and "Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed and My Sister Stole my Mother's Boyfriend" by Barbara Oakley. Last week I read YA novel, "A Blue So Dark" by Holly Schindler, and it reminded me so much of my own book. Polarity could be BFF with Aura, Schindler's main character. Both characters are even burdened with a weird name bestowed by an unstable mother. Today I'm immersed in "The Girl on The Train" by Paula Hawkins. I couldn't resist trying a book that is number one on Amazon. Oh my gosh! What a read!
Do you have plans for additional books? Any hints you can give us?
"Polarity in Love" is emerging. By the time "Polarity in Motion" was complete, Ethan and Polarity had matured and their needs had deepened. They are now ready for greater risks and a more intense relationship.
Thanks for talking with us! And thank you for creating such a compelling novel.
Thank you for your thought provoking questions and for all your work with KBoards! It amazes me when authors make the time to support other writers and to maintain a blog. You are an inspiration!
Polarity in Motion is available now to download to your Kindle!