by Dave Amaditz and
Welcome to June’s version of - First Friday - Five Favorite Things - Debut Novel Day. In this monthly series, we ask five simple questions about a debut novel that will hopefully entice anyone reading this post to pick up the novel and read it themselves, and/or give them at a glance some insight into the author's writing style and voice as well as how some of the characters might think or act. We do this by presenting, first, answers to our Five Favorite Things, followed by the author's answers in a follow-up post.
This month we're pleased to highlight debut YA novelist, Julie Murphy and her novel, Side Effects May Vary, a wonderful story about a young girl’s struggle to gain control over herself. We get to watch Alice’s journey unfold as she comes to terms with her identity in her fight to overcome being diagnosed with leukemia.
Everywhere you look you see that spring is now fully entrenched around us. Stay tuned in future months to read about some more great debut novels that you can take with you and enjoy while you’re traveling, sitting by the pool at your favorite vacation destination, or even at night while you’re chilling out on your front porch or in the backyard after a long, hot day at work. Marcy and I are super excited to share our picks with you! Thank you to all of the fabulous debut authors who have agreed to participate. Marcy and I are looking for many more reviews to follow.
1) What is your favorite line or paragraph from the novel as it relates to the main character's development and/or growth?
Dave – I don’t think I’m giving away anything from the book here because the revelation that her cancer is in remission comes early in the book, so to preface this short section I’ll simply say that it comes soon after Alice, the main character, has been told by her doctor that she is now in remission. She’s talking about her on-again off-again relationship with Harvey, her life-long “friend” and neighbor.
Every day I seemed to pull further away from Harvey. I’d never had a problem with confrontation before, but I didn’t know how to tell Harvey that the idea of “us” terrified me. I couldn’t promise him the things he wanted because Harvey wanted forever. And that had been so much easier to give him when forever had no expiration date.
Marcy – Dave and I had similar views on Alice’s character growth. As Dave said above, everything changes once Alice receives the news that her cancer is in remission.
I wanted to be that person for all of them – the person they’d painted into their memory, the memorialized version of Alice – but that girl wasn’t me. And that scared me. As it turned out, my greatest fear in life had become expectations.
2) What is your favorite chapter ending or cliffhanger?
Dave - I chose this particular ending because in so few words it was able to sum up so much about Alice. She’s talking here with a boy that she met in school, a boy new to the town and one whom she recently found out was more than likely going to be moving again - depending on Alice’s response.
His shoulders fell. “Well, I guess you’ll find out what I decide next week,” he said.
I was sad for Eric because he’d never known a home, not like I had. But I wasn’t sad enough to give him one.
Marcy – This chapter ending is extremely powerful and shows us Harvey’s raw emotions from an early age.
On that cold night in January it all slipped into place for me and she became my everything and my everyone. My music, my sun, my words, my hope, my logic, my confusion, my flaw.
I was thirteen years old, and she was all these things to me.
And I was her friend.
3) Who is your favorite secondary character and why?
Dave – If Harvey is to be considered a secondary character, then I choose Harvey, because he plays such an integral part of the story. He is the ying to Alice’s yang and everything in between. Consider this thought from him.
When you’d loved the same girl for your entire life, it was hard to believe that there might be anything after that. When you loved one person so wholly, do they take that love with them? Was that how it worked? If so, I was okay with that. I loved every bit of Alice, even the horrible, ugly parts that made other people cringe. If this was all the love I could ever give, then my love had been well spent. When Alice was gone, she would take all my love with her. Whether she was floating through some heaven or decomposing six feet under, that part of me would always go with Alice.
Marcy – Debora likes Harvey but he can’t get over Alice to have a real relationship with anyone else. Debora has a heartfelt conversation with Alice, even though she’s been hurt. I chose Debora as my favorite secondary character because she's smart, caring and clearly wants what's best for Harvey. She puts his needs before her own.
“Listen,” she said, “I can’t tell you what to do. I mean, you of all people, obviously. You don’t listen to anyone. But don’t destroy Harvey. Because you can. You have that power. Love’s different for him. For Harvey-”
4) What is your favorite line or paragraph of description?
Dave – When I read this I knew immediately it was the line I wanted to use, and even though I highlighted a few others within the book, this stood out to me more than any of the others every time I read it.
Our lips touched. It wasn’t our first kiss, but in that moment, I knew the meaning of it all. I knew every word in the dictionary, every color in the rainbow.
Marcy – This comment was spot on from Alice. It’s how anyone in love would feel if they lost their true love.
I’d always heard that when you truly love someone, you’re happy for them as long as they’re happy. But that’s a lie. That’s higher-road bullshit. If you love someone so much, why the hell would you be happy to see them with anyone else? I didn’t want the easy kind of love. I wanted the crazy love, the kind of love that created and destroyed all at the same time.
5) What is your favorite line of dialogue?
Dave – This is from Alice, being blunt as usual.
“We all die. We are dying. I’m just in the fast lane, I guess, dying faster than the rest of you slugs.”
Marcy – This line is from Alice talking to Harvey.
“I’ll miss you most, Harvey.” She sat up on her elbows. “I don’t know what it will feel like after, but I know I’ll miss you most.”