by Mary Karlik
In Hickville Confessions, Justin’s family has been ripped apart over the death of his sister three years ago. He had never been to the cemetery. This is the scene from that first encounter with her tombstone.
Tears flooded his eyes and streamed down his face. He dug his fist into the grass and sobs heaved from his chest. He imagined the white box beneath the earth and the girl asleep in that box. She was there, six feet and a lifetime away from him.
Pain filled every molecule in his body. She was gone. He would never tease her again—fight with her—see her. Why had she answered that freaking text? “Damn you, Chelsea! Damn you. You stupid girl. Don’t you see? You ruined everything. Three people died because you couldn’t put down your freaking phone. Mom is crazy out of her head. Dad is just gone. And I… I need you. Why? Why did this happen? Why did that truck have to be there? Why’d you leave us?”
This scene was important to me. There tends to be a sense that you can’t be angry at the dead. I wanted to show that it was okay for him to be mad at his sister, that it’s a natural part of grieving. It’s clear that his anger doesn’t diminish his love for his sister, but it was something he needed to express to move on.
YA romance provides teens a safe platform to explore new concepts, feelings, and experiences.
As teens are developing their own identity, they’ll make mistakes—we all do. Ryan, my heroine, made terrible mistakes in her past. Her strength was in her refusal to let her past define her. Instead, she chose to reinvent herself into the person she wanted to be. It wasn’t easy but she persevered. Her strength and love gave Justin the courage to let go of anger that had defined him.
I love that Ryan didn’t try to change Justin and that he didn’t try to change her. They weren’t dependent on each other. They were just better together.
To me, the most important characteristic of YA Romance is the happy ending. In this crazy world, we need to see two people overcome adversity and get that happy ending. My favorite movie line is from Romancing the Stone when Joan Wilder, the heroine, declares that she is a hopeful romantic. I wish for us all to be hopeful romantics.
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Mary's Newest Release: Hickville Confessions
Senior, Justin Hayes is a good guy wrapped in a bad-boy reputation. He may have been kicked out of the Homecoming Dance for fighting, but it was his dead sister’s reputation he was defending. He did stay out all night with super hot Ryan Quinn, but it was after he’d rescued her from the Purity Club and all they did was talk. He lost his heart to her that night. But with his home life a complete hot mess, there is no way he could have a relationship with her. The trouble is, he can’t stay away from her.
Justin is the kind of guy who can make Ryan forget her vow to change. He’s the kind of guy she should avoid at all costs. But he knows her soul secrets. He understands her and it is torture when she is away from him. But as she deals with the outward scars on her face and the inward shame of her past and Justin’s home life continues to spiral out of control, their relationship becomes as convoluted as their home life. Will they find the courage to open their hearts to each other in spite of their family drama?
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