Performancing Metrics

There's A Book

Today I have a fantastic treat for There’s A Book readers as well as fans of the wonderful author, Jennifer Archer. Jennifer’s debut Young Adult novel, Through Her Eyes, is out today! Happy Book Birthday Jennifer! I’ve already had the privilege of reading it and absolutely loved it, I know you will too!

Being that Jennifer has a passion for books both reading and writing them I thought it would be perfect to ask her a very “There’s A Book” question: We’d love to know her favorite childhood books and how they inspired her love of reading, because every author began by reading. So, without further hesitation on my part, Jennifer…

Hello, everyone! I’m honored that Danielle asked me to be a guest on her wonderful blog. She suggested that I talk about the childhood books that inspired my love of reading and influenced my desire to become a writer, and I can’t think of a more timely topic. My first novel for young adults is about to hit bookstore shelves, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the books I loved when I was young. As an adult, I’m a pretty eclectic reader – I enjoy many different types of fiction. Looking back, I notice that was true for me as a child, as well. So here’s a short list of some of my childhood favorites:

The Pink Motel by Carol Ryrie Brink was my favorite book during elementary school. Until I read it again recently, I’d forgotten a lot about the plotline and characters, but the joy it brought me as a 4th grader remained fresh in my mind through the years, as did the breezy beach setting. My family moved a lot during my childhood, but always to landlocked parts of the country; I think this story played a big part in bringing about my lifelong fascination with oceans and beaches. When I re-read The Pink Motel with a mature perspective, I clearly recognized the special qualities that have earned it somewhat of a cult following among many adults who loved it as a child. On the surface, The Pink Motel is a fun, quirky, adventurous mystery full of eccentric characters – the guests staying at the motel that Kirby and Bitsy Melon’s family inherits. But on a deeper level, it is a story about embracing differences in people and having an open mind. I think it “spoke” to me when I was a shy girl who moved a lot, because it seemed to say that people with unique lives and personalities who don’t fit in with everyone else are often wonderful and interesting, and there are places in our society where they can be accepted as they are. In this terrific book, one of those “places” is a pink motel where anything can happen.

Two other books captured and held my attention during my pre-teen years. The science  fantasy classic A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle and Escape from Warsaw by Ian Serrallier. A Wrinkle in Time is such an unusual story. I tended to shy away from anything the least bit scientific back then because I couldn’t grasp the concepts, but this book had me thinking about time and space in new ways – and I was intrigued! Also, as was the case with The Pink Motel, the characters are misfits to a certain extent.

Escape from Warsaw made the horrors of war real to me because they are presented through the experiences of three children, ages twelve, eleven, and three. During World War II, their country of Poland has been invaded by the Nazis, their father thrown into a prison camp, and their mother arrested and transported to Germany. The children are left to fend for themselves, and when they hear that their father has escaped to Switzerland, they face many dangers to cross war-torn Europe on their own and try to find him. Escape from Warsaw gripped me, made my heart race, and made me look at the world in a different way.

Another story that made me look at life differently is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Everything about this novel is brilliant. The setting and characters and emotions are so vivid that even today, when I think of the events that take place in the book, they seem more like my own memories rather than a story I’ve read. This is an issue-heavy book, yet it is also warm and funny, at times. Watching Atticus Finch stand up for what is right, even though it pits him against most of the rest of the people in town and places him and his family in potential danger, taught me that heroes don’t have to have big muscles, a weapon, or a cape.

As an older teen, I discovered The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and realized for the first time the beauty and power of symbolism and imagery in fiction.  At the same time, I also discovered the classic ghost mystery and love story Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I was mesmerized by the book’s moody, dark tone, and I’m sure it is one source of my own attempts to capture that “feel” in some of my own work. Another book that stands out in my mind that I read when I was sixteen is Go Ask Alice which is written by an anonymous author. Supposedly, Go Ask Alice isn’t fiction, but the real diary of a teenaged girl who died of an overdose after moving to a new town and becoming addicted to drugs in the late 1960’s. At the time I read this story, I had also just moved and could easily relate to “Alice’s” struggle to find her place in her new surroundings. Her tragedy had a real impact on me.

As I glance over this brief list, it’s interesting that a couple of the titles that I read as a very young child, are not well-known, yet they affected me so much that I still remember their stories decades later. It’s also interesting to note that most of these favorites hooked me for different reasons and influenced my writing in varied ways: The Pink Motel made me realize that books can provide a fun escape, comfort, and friendship during times of loneliness, and can teach lessons in subtle ways; A Wrinkle in Time taught me that well-written, compelling fiction can stretch the mind, making confusing subjects more interesting and accessible. Escape from Warsaw and To Kill a Mockingbird exemplified how powerful and life-changing a well-told story can be; The Great Gatsby brought me an understanding of symbolism and imagery, and illustrated that if handled deftly, those elements add depth of meaning to a story; Rebecca proved that tone and atmosphere can set a desired mood and stir a reader’s emotions. And Go Ask Alice showed me how one person’s story and words can impact another person’s choices.

Jennifer, thank you so much for this wonderful post! I love how you incorporated so many personal experiences into the telling of the books you read, because for me I especially feel that’s where our love of books spring from. It’s those personal experiences and connections we have with them, especially in our youth, that can change us for a lifetime. So thank you again for these wonderful memories and possibly even a few new books to take a look at!

Please do make sure to take a look at the other stops along the tour for Through Her Eyes and my review, which will be posted later this week. Not to mention that you should also be running out to pick up your copy right now!

Find Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer at the following spots:
Powell’s Books
Barnes & Noble

Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.

7 Responses to Guest Post: Jennifer Archer – Author of Through Her Eyes

  1. Gina says:

    Happy book birthday! Love this type of post….it’s always interesting to see just when their imagination was sparked into becoming a writer. As for the books listed, sadly I’ve only read one…O_O…but hey, that just gives me more suggestions to check out. Thanks for the great post ladies! Happy reading….

  2. I loved writing the post for your blog, Danielle! Gina and the1stdaughter– I do hope you’ll check out some of the titles on my list! They’re all wonderful books. Thanks for stopping by on this special day for me and for my novel, THROUGH HER EYES!

  3. I love reading about the books that influenced writers today. I loved many of the same books that Jennifer mentions. Great post.

    • Thanks! I’m the same way. And it’s not often there are so many books I don’t recognize, but in this case I’m excited to take a closer look at some of the ones Jennifer wrote about.

  4. Fantastic post. And it reminds me I realllly need to read the Great Gatsby.

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