Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Welcome to the FFBC: The Year of Living Awkwardly by Emma Chastain-- Interview + Giveaway

The Year of Living Awkwardly: Sophomore Year

(Chloe Snow's Diary #2)
by Emma Chastain
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: July 10, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
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High school student Chloe Snow chronicles another year in her life while she navigates the highs and lows of family, friendship, school, and love in her diary.

It’s Chloe Snow’s sophomore year of high school, and life has only grown more complicated.

Last year, Chloe was the star of the musical. This year, after an audition so disastrous she runs off the stage in tears, she’s cast as a lowly member of the ensemble. Will she be able to make it through the show knowing everyone’s either pitying her or reveling in her downfall?

Chloe’s best friend, Hannah, is no help: she’s been sucked into the orbit of Lex, the velvet-gloved, iron-fisted ruler of the sophomore class. Chloe’s dad is busy falling in love with Miss Murphy, and Chloe is no longer speaking to her mother, who is sending her increasingly desperate and unhinged emails from Mexico. As her parents’ divorce negotiations unravel, a custody battle looms.

If only Chloe could talk to Grady about it: his parents are divorced, and he’s easy to talk to. Or he was, until he declared his love for Chloe, and she turned him down because despite all her rational brain cells she can’t seem to get over Mac, and then Grady promptly started going out with Lex.

As the performance of the show approaches, Chloe must find a way to navigate all the messy elements of her life and make it through to the end of the year.

Hi Emma!!  We’re so excited to have your book in our FFBC Tours, and can’t wait to ask you a couple of questions about your Chloe Snow series!

Thanks so much for having me!


Favorite Book? 

With the caveat that I’m not sure I have a favorite anything, I’ll go with Jane Austen’s Emma. I’m a sucker for simultaneously detestable and lovable protagonists, and Emma is an exemplar of the type. This is the novel I’d recommend to anyone who mistakenly assumes Austen is prim and boring. In fact, as I’m sure everyone who reads your blog knows, she’s hilarious and so observant she edges into cruelty.

Favorite TV show? 

The Americans, which satisfies both as an action-packed spy thriller and as a seasons-long metaphor for marriage and the construction of identity.

Favorite movie? 

Rushmore. When the story begins, the protagonist, Max Fischer, is utterly confident and self-satisfied, and by the time it ends, he’s become more confused and more kind, which is an arc I think most artists, and most nice people, have to trace at some point. Also, that part where Bill Murray yells “UNLOCK IT!” at the bratty son who’s just locked him out of his own car…the look on his face, the rage and despair in his voice…it doesn’t get funnier or sadder.

Favorite Song? 

Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home to Me”—the live version recorded at the Harlem Square Club in 1963. You can hear people screaming and crying in the background, which is the only reasonable reaction to this performance.

Favorite Food?

I mean, pizza. The Michelin-starred masterpieces from Roberta’s, the garbagey, puffy slices from down the block—all of it.

Name 3 fictional places you would move to in a heartbeat. 

No way am I leaving Brooklyn, home of Roberta’s!

What were your favorite books growing up? 

The ones about angry, rebellious, writerly girls. The Secret Garden, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, you get the idea.

Favorite Quote? 

Years ago, I was so comforted when I found this interview with Ira Glass, which helped me understand that bad work is (hopefully) a phase, not a life sentence. “All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste…But there’s a gap. For the first couple years you’re making stuff—what you’re making isn’t so good. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is a disappointment to you. A lot of people never get past that phase. They quit. … And if you are just starting out or you’re entering into that phase, you gotta know it’s totally normal and the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work.” My work still hasn’t caught up with my taste, but maybe I’ll get there in a few decades.

What do you find yourself “Fangirling” over? 

I’ve spent a worrisome amount of time Googling Mel and Sue, former judges of “The Great British Baking Show.” They’re just so charming and kind and British!

What recent book would you recommend to our YA fans? 

I loved Starfish, by Akemi Dawn Bowman. The mother character has particularly stuck with me. She’s so evil, and so real, and Bowman makes you understand her even as you despise her.


Could you tell our Book Addicts a little bit about Chloe Snow?

Chloe is a theater kid, a reader, and a diary-keeper. She’s struggling to get through high school without her mother, who’s run away to Mexico, supposedly to work on her novel. Chloe means well, but like most of us (or maybe just like me?) she’s self-absorbed and judgmental. What she lacks in wisdom, she makes up for in honesty. She spends most of The Year of Living Awkwardly pining away for, getting mad at, alienating, and again pining away for Grady, her concession stand coworker.

What 3 hashtags would you most associate with your book? (Could be a word or phrase or anything that would instantly make you think of THE YEAR OF LIVING AWKWARDLY or the series in general.)


Besides reading, writing, and blogging, I love fashion!!  What would Chloe wear on a typical school day?

Chloe is a jeans-and-sneakers, I-hope-I’m-successfully-blending-in kind of person. She could really use your fashion advice.

Do you have any favorite books/movies/tv shows that use diaries as the way to tell the story?

YES, yes, a thousand times yes. To name a few, Diary of a Nobody; Bridget Jones’s Diary; Love, Nina; Notes on a Scandal; I Capture the Castle; and maybe most of all, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which is funny and surprising and reads like it was written last month. I prefer unlikable protagonists, and I adore Lorelei, who is deluded, moronic, murderous, and, in her own way, very clever. Edith Wharton loved her, too; she called Gentlemen Prefer Blondes “the great American novel.”

Tell us your favorite quote from THE YEAR OF LIVING AWKWARDLY.

I don’t have a favorite, but this seems like a timely one: “God, I hate our stupid backward hypocritical woman-hating slut-shaming Puritanical culture.”

Is there a specific scene that you had the most fun to write?  Or which part was the most difficult to get through?

The scene at the end when Grady swims the length of the pool underwater—I’ve never had a better hour of writing in my life. I finished it late at night, and I was so happy afterward, I couldn’t sleep. It was like being on writing drugs!

If you had to pick one song to be the Theme Song for THE YEAR OF LIVING AWKWARDLY– Which one would you pick?

“Honeybun,” from South Pacific, which Chloe first thinks about with smug excitement, since she’s so sure she’ll land the lead in the school musical, and which becomes a source of torment for her after she flubs her audition.

Are there any recommendations you could give your readers to be in the “perfect mood” to read THE YEAR OF LIVING AWKWARDLY (specific music, snacks…)?

Mini Snickers bars, in honor of Snickers, Chloe’s Boston Terrier, and her cover co-star.

What’s next for you?

The third in the Chloe series! She’ll be back, and she’ll be more awkward and confused than ever.

Thanks so much for chatting with us!!

Thanks so much or having me!

I have 2 Boston Terriers and as soon as I saw the cover, I was like MUST READ THIS BOOK!!!  I also am totally obsessed with your favorite quote-- that might be the wisest thing I've heard in a long time, and I totally agree that my work has NOT caught up with my taste!!

Emma Chastain is a graduate of Barnard College and the creative writing MFA program at Boston University. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and children.

July 3rd

Pink Polka Dot Books- Welcome Post

July 4th

The Book Return- Review & Favorite Quotes

July 5th

We Live and Breathe Books- Review
Anky's Book Bubble- Q&A

July 6th

Bookmark Lit- Creative Option
Wishful Endings- Guest Post

July 7th

Sincerely Karen Jo- Spotlight

July 8th

The Lovely Books- Review
Never Too Many To Read- Creative Option

July 9th

Lost in Storyland- Review & Guest Post
Pink Polka Dot Books- Review

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  1. The most exciting part of this interview for me was seeing that there will be a third Chloe Snow book. I am totally in love with this kid, and need to see her graduate.

  2. I didn't read book #1 yet, but now that book #2 is out, I have to start. This character sounds fun and I love when favorite characters get more books.