[Blog Feature] Guest Post + Review: Snowsisters by Tom Wilinsky & Jen Sternick

Hello my lovely followers,

today I am excited to have Tom Wilinsky & Jen Sternick, authors of Snowsisters, here on my blog.
Snowsisters, out today, February 15th, is their debut work and is a YA about two girls who not only learn to increase their writing skills in a special writing camp for young women, they also find love, frienship and how to deal with problems in different shapes and types.

Tom & Jen talk in their guest post about one of the most controverse topics in the book: the treatment of a transgender (side)character and the constantly misgendering by another.
For more content warnings in general about the book see this link.

Next to the guest post there is my review so scroll down & read further. 🙂
Also be sure to visit the authors’ website to enter a giveaway where you can win a copy + $25 Interlude Press Gift Card.  🙂 Good luck.

Happy reading and I hope you see the guest post as informative as I did. 🙂
It gave me a better insight of this problematic subtopic – which was honestly not easy to endure while reading –  and I was happy to have these additional informations. 🙂

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I’m thrilled to have Tom & Jen here today. Hello, you two. :3
And here we go, here is their guest post topic about:
(note: Please be aware that the guest post containts spoilers & deal with sensitive topics which might are triggering, e.g. transphobia)

HOW AND WHY WE INCORPORATED A TRANS GIRL’S STORYLINE INTO SNOWSISTERS

Tom and Jen: Our debut novel, Snowsisters, is being published February 15, 2018 by Duet, the young adult imprint at Interlude Press. High school students—Soph, a poet who attends private school in Manhattan, and Tess, a public school student who writes fan fiction and lives on a dairy farm in New Hampshire—are thrown together as roommates at a week-long writing conference. As they get to know each other and the other young women, Soph and Tess discover unexpected truths about friendship, their craft, and how to hold fast to their convictions while opening their hearts to love.

Jen:  When Tom and I decided to write YA fiction for lgbtqiap+ kids, we wanted to put our characters in real life situations which forced them to act, react and adapt.

Tom:  That’s why Snowsisters is more than a romance.  It’s about young women writers finding their voices;  girls meeting girls from different backgrounds with different experiences and preconceptions; surmounting the challenges of being different; and the magical quality of love in the snow. A lot of it isn’t pretty. The girls aren’t always nice to each other, and the group has a hard time finding common ground. But that’s the human condition, the basis for virtually all literature: misconceptions about others, conflict and, hopefully, some form of resolution.

Jen:    We wanted all kinds of girls to attend the Young Women’s Writing Conference and we definitely wanted to include a trans girl.  We both read lots of YA fiction and have sought out books by trans authors to help inform our writing. We also have trans people in our lives who were valuable resources.  Snowsisters started out as a short story. Orly didn’t have much of a voice.  She was the subject of Chris’s bullying and Soph’s and Tess’s attention, but there wasn’t room to do much more with her while focusing on Soph and Tess’s story arc.

Tom:    Expanding Orly’s character when we wrote the novel was daunting.  We’re both cis and we were concerned about using Orly’s voice in an unconvincing way.  Our first novel-length draft understated Orly.  She deserved more, so we reached out for help…  We had four sensitivity readers, including two trans readers, review the book. They were a huge help! Our sensitivity readers thought that the other girls’ varied reactions to Orly were realistic and important to depict.  They urged us to keep the controversy in and not to have the cis girls ride to her rescue, calling it a tired and unnecessary trope.  They explained that Orly, a high school student who has already transitioned, would have been through this before and that she would be more likely to respond with humor and strength than by retreating.  In other words, she’d be able to brush it off and carry on.

Jen:    What they said made a lot of sense.  We saw Orly as a strong character who deserved agency.  Our sensitivity readers appreciated the conflict, which begins, as so many do, as a whispering campaign instigated by Chris.  Based on the sensitivity readers’ advice, we gave Orly her own chance to speak out.  We won’t give away how we did it, but we drew from our sensitivity readers’ perspectives for what Orly would say and how she would demonstrate her strength and pride in her identity.

Tom:    They also suggested that we not explain how Chris found out that Orly is trans, because Orly would be very careful about exposing herself.  So we purposefully left the scene ambiguous.  Without giving away any spoilers, we specifically sought and received our sensitivity readers’ approval of the conclusion of the feud.

Jen:    Equally importantly, we wanted to craft Tess’s reaction and the development of her character from being told about Orly to befriending, understanding and appreciating her. Tess’s journey may not be immediately understandable to the reader. But once she reveals her own history, her actions make sense.

Tom:    One of the recurring themes of Snowsisters is that coming out is different for everyone and that no one should tell anyone else how to come out, let alone forcibly reveal another person.  Coming out is a big step and one which may not be safe for people in certain communities.  Tess and Soph come to the conference from very different backgrounds and we wanted them to learn from each other as well as from Orly.

Jen:    All of the girls at the conference identify as “feminists,” but their approaches are shaped by their experiences and backgrounds.  In fact, some of them probably don’t know what the word means. We’ve all met people like that. They insist they are one kind of person, but they act like a completely different person from what they claim to be. How do you figure that out? We wanted to show girls meeting people from different backgrounds and different places and struggling to communicate with them. That happens to all of us, whether at school, when we go off to college or the military, or move away from home.

Tom and Jen: Snowsisters is available now for for pre-order at Amazon, bandn.com and Interlude Press, and will be in bookstores on February 15. We want to caution prospective readers that triggering warnings are posted on the Interlude Press website based on some of the content.  We can’t wait for you to read it!


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My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*~~*ARC kindly provided by the author to me in exchange for an honest review *~~*


Honestly when I first heard about the book I was thrilled. It sounded really good, and when the blurb and the cover were posted I was hocked. It was so good looking and the blurb really enchanted me.
Then I saw some reviews from a few early readers and worried deeply about their critique and feared the book wouldn’t be “good”, in fact I worried I would DNF it.
But because I try always to be fair, I read book by myself first before I judge them and then, when I got my ARC and had time to read read it I honestly was able to say: I really liked it.
Yes, I am fully aware of the controversy topic(s) the book contains, and if you read the book and in addition to it the guest post on my blog (see above) you know what I’m talking about: it’s the harsh treatment of a transgender side character, Orly, who is a target in a bully by another side character and within constantly misgendered by several characters.
The book is written in 1st person present tense, switching between Tess’ and Soph’s POV, and has with them what you call unreliable narrators. All those things are mentioned in the editor’s note in the preface of the book and the publisher’s website. I recommend to take the warnings really serious and read them before starting the book, to make yourself aware of what it means to have unreliable narrators, to have two girls who are exploring things for the first time. And have sometimes different opinions and the display of a behaviour by the characters some readers might find offensive or making them uncomfortable.

But honestly this is one of the strengths of the book in my opinion. Yes, the characters aren’t flawless, yes, they sometimes feel superior or if they know everything, especially Soph is learning the hard way what it means to be not the number one anymore. She has to deal with competition, has hard times to adjust as easy as she always think she is. She is a crowd puller, knows how to popularize, as a girl coming from the big city New York. She is popular and is genuine, she isn’t malice whereas she sometimes comes across as a bit naive, although she knows – or think she might does – a lot of things. Soph is a charming character, and I liked her very much, in fact in parts I saw myself in her.
But it’s clear from the start she is raised in a privileged manner; she is prosperous, means she has money and can get what (and whenever) she wants (it), is able to stand for herself  – isn’t shy in showing this loud and clear – and hasn’t (mostly) to worry about things.

Different to her is Tess; the shy, timid girl who wears mostly pink clothes and is working hard on her parent’s dairy farm and knows what it means to worry about a lot of things: whether it is money or what it means to being not out in a homophobic town, which isn’t not only for her an important topic and definitely influences her.

When both girls met in the writing camp literally two worlds are colliding; and not only theirs.

What I loved about the book was the display of different shapes of friendship, what it means to fall in love for the first time and how toxic groups and the dynamics can be when problems occur and what it means to stand up for important things and how illusional people sometimes are in beliving they are doing something good, when in fact they aren’t flawless and maybe have a lot of privileges, even if their intentions are good. The book is sometimes heart clenching, heart breaking in the behaviour towards Orly, the transgender girl who has to deal with harassment by Chris, who is digging deep in trying to find information about her to make her uncomfortable in the group.

Next to these topics I loved the writing topic & the creating process behind. The writing camp was charming and the idea a delight. I had so much fun in reading the “technical” components of the writting and how the girls improved their writing. I also loved the individual stories, the different mediums they’ve used and what they mean to them. I had a great time in reading more into the metaphors & the similes, see behind the topics, the way how you can interpret their fictional works differently and which gave you an insight of the characters while reading.
Soph & Tess are really interesting yet definitely not flawless characters and I think the authors are definitely able to show this within the book.

All in all, despite the heavy, heart clenching topic, the unreliable narrators who made the book so – I won’t say entertaining because it doesn’t summarize my emotions properly – unique and in parts enriching I was hooked by it.
A book doesn’t need to “please” in all parts and definitely not all readers, and truly, this book has its problems, because of the characters and their behaviour, but honestly I could get a lot out of it and I really cherish this experience. 🙂 Therefore and because I was so fond of the writing camp topic and how sweet Soph and Tess were together and – even not flawless, but it makes them so human and charming – how they were shown individually I give the book 4 out of 5 stars. 🙂


View all my reviews


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REVIEW

Title: Snowsister
Author: Tom Wilinsky & Jen Sternick
Genre: F/F Romance, Young Adult (YA)
Release Date: February 15, 2018
Publisher: Interlude Press
Length: 258 /62.250 words
Cover artist & book design: CB Messer

 

Add to you bookshelf:
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PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon US
Interlude Press
Barnes & Noble

Blurb

High school students—Soph, who attends private school in Manhattan, and Tess, a public school student who lives on a dairy farm in New Hampshire—are thrown together as roommates at a week-long writing conference. As they get to know each other and the other young women, both Soph and Tess discover unexpected truths about friendship, their craft, and how to hold fast to their convictions while opening their hearts to love.

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Praises for Snowsisters + Special Release Week price

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Author bio  – Tom Wilinsky & Jen Sternick

Tom Wilinsky & Jen Sternick met in high school and started a conversation which, years later, is ongoing through their writing partnership, Never Have I Ever Books.

Tom lives with his partner in New York, where he’s an attorney who likes cold weather, old cars, and anything with zombies.

Jen lives in Rhode Island with her husband, two sons and a cranky, seven-toed cat. She’s a former criminal prosecutor who still works in government. She likes theater, travel, and Twitter, an admitted addiction.

They are both avid readers and share books, recipes, music and strong opinions. As Never Have I Ever Books on Tumbler, Twitter and Facebook, they follow, write, and review YA LGBTQIAP+ fiction, fan fiction, and popular media.

Author links / get in contact
Website / Blog
Facebook Author page
Twitter
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