Jessica Chastain: wore my favorite Oscar dress. My second favorite was Octavia Spencer. Loved the fit, color, and the sleeves. I've never felt confident in snazzy dresses, particularly strapless ones. Finding a dress with sleeves, that still looks elegant, isn't so easy. She looked amazing though. I also loved Viola and Natalie Portman's dress. And that was pretty much it. Lots more "heh?" moments than "woo!" moments for me.
One of my favorite novels is EB White’s Charlotte’s Web. Not only does the book detail a perfectly wonderful friendship, but perfectly wonderful sentences line every single page. This is one of my favorites:
“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”
This quote has been bouncing around in my brain this week, because I’ve been writing about (and today I’m giving away!...) a copy of Jenny B. Jones’ newest novel There You’ll Find Me.
Jenny is an amazing writer. And I’m blessed to call her a true friend as well. We first connected through Brio Magazine, a swanky publication we’d both written for. The friendship factor was apparent from the start. There’s a certain brand of snark and sarcasm that endears people to me immediately. I gravitate to funny like a moth to a flame. (Or like a Rogue Accountant to an All You Can Eat Buffet.) Jen is funny but she’s also encouraging and fun and I can verify that she’s even cooler than she seems (which is hard to believe, but true). But I promise I’m not writing out of a total bias here.
Because I’ve never met a Jenny B. Jones book that I don’t like. There You’ll Find Me is no exception; it is a bittersweet story about an 18-year-old girl named Finley Sinclair and her journey through faith, loss, letting go, and learning to love again. You can find the full summary here, but I’m going to jump in and tell you just a few of the many things I loved about Finley’s story:
Thing the First: The setting is atmospheric, idyllic, and magical. Finley is in Ireland as an exchange student, studying music and working on her audition piece for college. While in Ireland, she’s using her brother Will’s journal as a guide to see the places that changed his life. (Will, Finley’s older brother – and hero - died tragically before this novel begins.)
“God will open that door for you.” Sister Maria put her wrinkled hand in mine. “There’s nothing you’re searching for that can’t be found in Ireland – God, music, beautiful landscapes, wonderful food, maybe even parts of yourself. You just have to be brave enough to look.” – TYFM, p. 41
Helloooo, Ireland. Is there any place more magical than Ireland? I missed Ireland when I finished the book … and I’ve never even been there. TYFM mostly takes place in a fictional town called Abbeyglen. Hemmed in by a silver ocean, and populated with vivid characters (more on them next week), lively music (more on that too…), and rolling, green hills … Abbeyglen is totally enchanting.
As I read, I kept thinking the book had a fairy-tale feel about it. I think the storybook vibe had everything to do with Abbeyglen, particularly the folks who call it home. I wanted to live in this book. I’m confident you will want to live there too. We can be neighbors.
Thing the Second: Beckett Rush is a doll. If you frequently develop crushes on book-boys, then you need to brace yourself. Beckett is handsome, confident, and infuriatingly flirty. And. He’s kind and sensitive and he becomes a sincere friend to Finley, even as they’re falling for each other. I do jumpy claps every time I read a relationship in YA that’s built on genuine friendship and not just crazy Kathy/Heatcliff Ed/Bella-esc obsession. The star-crossed lover-stories are great, sometimes. But I actually prefer this kind of romance. Finley and Beckett’s relationship feels so real; and the way they banter back and forth gives the serious moments even more gravity and meaning. But you should be warned: even Beckett’s witty banter will make your heart flutter. (One of my favorite Beckett scenes is on p.25.)
Thing the Third: The Funny. If you read Jenny’s work, then you know to expect some great humor. What’s particularly awesome this time around, is that TYFM dives into some serious subject matter – but the funny is still prevalent. The humor is never ill-timed, just true to life.
I’ll discuss more of my favorite parts of There You'll Find Me in my interview with Jen, but my most favorite part of all is what I want to leave you with. Thing the Fourth: Finley Sinclair.
Finley is, most definitely, the star of her story. She’s smart and funny and a little bit of a rebel. You might know her already, because Finley is Alex Sinclair’s little sister in Save the Date. Even more awesomely: you might recognize some of her qualities in yourself. She is fearless about standing up for other people, but not as assertive when it comes to taking care of herself. She’s a mess some days: broken and scarred by loss and unsure (and frantic) about what the future might bring.
She celebrates the wonder-moments. She wrestles with the what-the-heck moments. Through it all, her faith feels so real, and I think this has to do with the fact that she’s not afraid to wrestle with her doubt. She asks questions (even when she doesn’t get answers). She laughs. She grieves. She wears her heart on her sleeve (and scores it in a song). She makes stupid mistakes. But through every moment, even her darkest moments, Finley is a fighter. And she never, ever stops fighting. No matter how hard she falls, she clings to a Grace that pulls her back up. Finley is not a whimper. This girl knows how to roar. She's a girl who goes searching for a grave but finds life instead. That’s an incredible story to live out.
|Her headshots are better than mine.|
*Gives Jenny B. Jones the stinkeye*
And I can’t wait to hear what you think about it! There You’ll Find Me is available on Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, IndieBound, and wherever else you buy your books. You can read more about Jen on her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.
I’m super excited too, because we’re giving away a signed copy of There You’ll Find Me. If you’d like to be entered in the drawing, comment on today’s post and answer this question:
If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go?
*I would love to hear your answer even if you’ve already read the book, but be sure and let me know if you don’t want to be entered in the giveaway.
* Next week, I’ll be posting interview I did with Jenny. I’m not going to lie … it’s a little bit awesome (God, grief, bad love songs, and Ryan Renalds are all topics we discuss at some point). But if you want to enter the giveaway, today’s post is the one you need to comment on. That way I don’t confuse myself (which happens often). I’ll announce a random winner next Friday.
See you in the comments! J I can’t wait to hear about all the places you’ll go!
* This giveaway is only open to folks living in the USA and Canada. We love you no matter where you live, and I hope you’ll still jump in on the conversation. Postage is just crazy-pricey.