Today we're excited to spotlight Fade To Us by Julia Day! Read on for more about Julia and her book, plus theimportance of autistic characters in YA, and a giveaway!
Meet Julia Day!
JULIA DAY lives in North Carolina, halfway between the beaches and the mountains. She has two twenty-something daughters, one geeky old husband, and too many computers to count. When she's not writing software or stories, Julia enjoys traveling to faraway places, watching dance reality shows on TV, and making a dent in her To-Be- Read pile. Julia is the author of YA contemporary romances The Possibility of Somewhere and Fade to Us (Feb 2018).
Julia Day's Fade to Us is a story about found families, the bond of sisterhood, and the agony and awe of first love.
Brooke's summer is going to be EPIC— having fun with her friends and a job that lets her buy a car. Then her new stepfather announces his daughter is moving in. Brooke has always longed for a sibling, so she’s excited about spending more time with her stepsister. But she worries, too. Natalie has Asperger’s--and Brooke's not sure how to be the big sister that Natalie needs.
After Natalie joins a musical theater program, Brooke sacrifices her job to volunteer for the backstage crew. She’s mostly there for Natalie, but Brooke soon discovers how much she enjoys being part of the show. Especially sweet is the chance to work closely with charming and fascinating Micah--the production’s stage manager. If only he wasn't Natalie's mentor...
When her summer comes to an end, will Brooke finally have the family she so desperately wants--and the love she's only dreamed about?
3 Reasons Why:
The Importance of Autistic Characters in YA
I was on a recent visit to a local high school, standing before an auditorium full of teens, answering questions about being a writer. Midway up the aisle, a girl sat quietly, surrounded by empty seats that created a buffer zone from the others. When I mentioned that my next book had an autistic heroine, the girl became visibly animated. After the bell rang, her classmates filed out, but she made a beeline for me.
“I have high-functioning autism,” she said. “And I can’t wait to read a book with an autistic character—who’s a girl!”
Her excitement reminded me why I wanted to write an autistic character for my next young adult (YA) novel. My daughter also has Aspergers. As a teen, it was nearly impossible to find books with autistic characters. And when we did, they weren’t female.
Diverse characters are appearing more often in books and pop culture marketed to teens, and that’s great. But I still hope for more. Here are three reasons why we should continue to push for autistic characters in YA.
Teens on the autism spectrum deserve to see themselves in YA. Both my daughter and the girl who approached me want to read books they can relate to. They shouldn’t have to work so hard to find characters like them in fiction. People on the autism spectrum have stories that ought to be told.
Even more damaging can be autistic characters who are poorly developed. TV and books repeat stereotypes, depicting autistics as geeky, muttering, rude, and introverted. Although those traits can sometimes be true, they need context. Writers could also create authentic autistic characters who are funny, wise, articulate, emotional, frustrated, and moody—all in the same day. Or in the same hour. Like real teens.
We should write more female characters with Aspergers. Boys are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders four times more often than girls. But many researchers believe that the ratio is closer to even, and speculate that girls may just be better at masking the symptoms. For girls who are yet to be diagnosed, reading books with autistic female characters might allow them to see themselves--and that they’re not alone.
Generation Z deserves to see diverse characters in YA. My daughter came home once from middle school and told me that a classmate had called her weird. She wanted to know if I agreed. “Our whole family is weird,” I said. “There is good weird and bad weird. We’re the good kind.” The next day, she had an update from her classmate. According to him, “weird is always bad.”
That story makes me sad—for him. Allistic (non-autistic) teens need to read about diverse characters to build empathy. To understand that different-ness has value.
We ought to celebrate unconventional people. Consider Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, and Jane Austen. If they were living now, they would likely have an Aspergers diagnosis. Yet in today’s schools, they would be at risk of being bullied. Imagine a world that had silenced its chance at the theory of relativity. The laws of motion. Fitzwilliam Darcy.
GenZ-ers deserve books that open them to unique ways of being and thinking. Maybe reading those stories would give them permission to be different, too.
Groups need to see how they can be agents for change. In Fade to Us, the autistic heroine is involved in a summer musical camp. An adult tells her that “theater kids think ‘weird’ is normal.” That was a quote from a real high school drama teacher. When I interviewed him, he assured me that many teens on the spectrum participated in his programs and that they were welcomed because “actors are used to being different. We’re all odd here.”
Yes! Could organizations develop a kind of corporate empathy? Whether schools, clubs, sports teams, or faith communities, groups could be leading the way to more inclusiveness. If neurodiversity in YA fiction would shine a light on the issue, groups might recognize why they ought to seek and model change.
The teen fiction market is making progress with diversity, yet we can do more. Thirteen percent of public school students are identified with disabilities. One in 68 children have an autism spectrum diagnosis. They deserve to find characters like themselves in books. All teens need to read about people who are different from them. Let’s push toward greater inclusiveness in teen fiction. Let’s expect YA literature to reflect who we want to be.
Fade To Us
By: Julia Day
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Five winners will receive a copy of Fade To Us (US only).