Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Blog Tour + #Giveaway: Alone Together by Sarah J. Donovan @MrsSJDonovan @yaboundtourspr

Alone Together
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: May 1st 2018


Sadie Carter’s life is a mess, as wavy and tangled as her unruly hair. At 15, she is barely surviving the chaos of her large Catholic family. When one sister becomes pregnant and another is thrown out, her unemployed dad hides his depression, and her mom hides a secret. Sadie, the peacekeeper and rule-follower, has had enough. The empty refrigerator, years of hand-me-downs, and all the secrets have to stop. She longs for something more and plans her escape.

However, getting arrested was not her plan. Falling in love was not her plan. With the help of three mysterious strangers—a cop, a teacher, and a cute boy—maybe Sadie will find the strength to defy the rules and do the unexpected.

Told in verse, Sarah J. Donovan’s debut Alone Together has secrets, romance, struggle, sin, and redemption, all before Sadie blows out her 16 candles. It’s a courageously honest look at growing up in a big family.

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Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble 

Interview with Sarah J. Donovan

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Alone Together?

Sadie Carter is, well, a mess-- trying to make sense of her place in her huge family. She is beautiful, but she doesn’t really know it. She is smart, but no one has really paid enough attention to her to inspire or challenge her. She is also a rather obedient, compliant girl because of her Catholic upbringing; she really relies on the commandments when making life decisions -- it is just easier, neater to have a set of rules to follow when the world gets complicated. But Sadie, like most teenaged girls, starts wanting something more. She calls these “whispers of want.” She wants space, attention, love, and touch. She is figuring out how to get her needs met in this big family when everyone else is doing the same.

Sam is an older boy that Sadie meets at the pizza place they work. He is the only child in his family and is just fascinated by Sadie and her family. He is one of the few people who really “see” Sadie and challenge her serious, rule-following side. He pushes her to have fun, to take risks while recognizing she has some needs like food and love. Sam wants to give Sadie his love, but he is a bit too old for her and has dreams of his own, so Sadie and Sam are trying to make sense of that dynamic.

Can you tell us a little bit about your next books or what you have planned for the future?

Because I am a junior high teacher by day and a university professor by night (and still writing a lot of academic papers), I am anxious to get to June first to get my next book out. This one will be Sam’s story. I want to tell the story of Sam’s teenage years with a father who is a police commander on the West Side of Chicago and his mom who works at the local department store. Sam’s family seems to have everything together, but his father has some secrets he’s been keeping to protect his family.

How long would you say it takes you to write a book?

I am an all-in thinker and do-er. Once I start a project, I cannot stop until it’s finished. My husband will attest. In the summer, I start writing at 5am with a full cup of coffee, and when my husband comes up at 5pm, I am in the same spot with an inch of the same coffee in the cup. If I am in the flow, I won’t feel hunger, fatigue, or even get up to go to the bathroom until I find a “good” place to stop. I wrote Alone Together over three months, but that was just the first, tangled narrative. I spent the next three months revising and then another three months editing. Editing verse is very complicated.

What is your favorite childhood book?

When you say “childhood,” I think of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. It occurs to me now that Alone Together carries a similar theme -- one of giving to the point where you own needs are not met. That book always made me feel quite melancholy. I felt such sorrow for the tree who was giving every last branch to the child, which seems generous, but the boy-man kept asking more of the tree, which seems thoughtless, greedy. In Alone Together, I tried to “notice” the parents needs and acknowledge all they had given up for their children only to have lost themselves.

If you could spend the day with one of the characters from Alone Together who would it be? Please tell us why you chose this particular character, where you would go and what you would do.

Of course, I would spend the day with Sam. He is handsome, kind, funny, and compassionate. We would make pizza together and have picnic under his childhood tree.

What was the hardest scene from Alone Together to write?

There were so many scenes that were hard to write because they were emotional. I would cry through the writing, revisiting it the next day only to tear-up again. When I heard the audio version of the book, I cried again. The scene where Sadie is  caught stealing food from the restaurant she works was humiliating for Sadie. The scene where Sadie goes the hospital to meet her new nephew was difficult because instead of Sadie falling into her family and becoming part of the moment, she retreated from the moment. But my favorite scenes to write were the kissing scenes!

What made you want to become a writer?

My students. As an English teacher, I wanted to be what I was advocating my students to become. For years, I would tell my students that writing was important and that their stories matter, but I was not telling my story or trying to make sense of the stories that shape our lives. I was not imagining what if or creating worlds to uncover and discover how we can just be and become in this life, so I wanted to, as someone said, “walk the walk” or “write the write” (is that a thing?). And now, I see and feel stories much more readily -- they are just itching me to pay attention.  But teaching is inspiring, and if I did not have that contact with humanity every day, I don’t think I’d be able to imagine as I do when I write.

Just for fun

(a Favorite song: “No Hard Feelings” by The Avett Brothers

(b Favorite book:  I try to read a book a day, so my “favorite” changes.  I loved Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

(c Favorite movie: Moonstruck

(d Favorite tv show: Madam Secretary

(e Favorite Food: Giordano’s deep dish pizza

(f Favorite drink: coffee

(g Favorite website: Upworth

Thanks so much for visiting with us today!

About the Author
Sarah J. Donovan is the author of Alone Together and Genocide Literature in Middle and Secondary Classrooms. A junior high English teacher by day and college education professor by night, she spends every other moment reading young adult novels and writing. She lives with her husband in Downers Grove, Illinois in a condo so she can write instead of mowing the lawn or shoveling snow. When she is not teaching, reading, or writing, she can be found playing sand volleyball with amazing Chicagoland women. (Yes, even in the winters.)You can see all her “shelfies”on Instagram @donovan_sd or tweet @MrsSJDonovan.

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Win a class set of Alone Together for your local high school: https://sarahjdonovan.wordpress.com/promotions/

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