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"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself."— John Green


This is the Story of You by Beth Kephart [Review + Interview + Giveaway]

Title: This is the Story of You
Author(s): Beth Kephart
Edition: HC, 264 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Source: Chronicle Books - Part of Blog Tour
Buy: Amazon Barnes & Noble - Book Depository

Tour Schedule

5/31/2016 - Actin' Up with Books
6/1/2016 - Cracking the Cover
6/2/2016 - Stuck In YA Books
6/3/2016 - Eli to the nth (ME!!!!)
6/6/2016 - The Reading Date
6/7/2016 - Emilie's Book World

The Summary

On Haven, a six-mile long, half-mile-wide stretch of barrier island, Mira Banul and her Year-Rounder friends have proudly risen to every challenge. But when a superstorm defies all predictions and devastates the island, when it strands Mira’s mother and brother on the mainland and upends all logic, nothing will ever be as it was. A stranger appears in the wreck of Mira’s home. A friend obsessed with vanishing is gone. As the mysteries deepen, Mira must find the strength to carry on—to somehow hold her memories in place while learning to trust a radically reinvented future.

Gripping and poetic, This Is the Story of You is about the beauty of nature and the power of family, about finding hope in the wake of tragedy and recovery in the face of overwhelming loss.
My Opinion

This is the Story of You is one of those stories that stick with you after you finish the last page.  The story of Mira and her small island community going through a storm as horrible as Hurricane Sandy, in which this story pulls inspiration from, is pulse-racing.  And it is not the moments within the storm, weathering the wind and rain and floods, it is the aftermath that is truly devastating.

A story of strength, rebuilding, friendship, and family, Beth Kephart manages to express the experience that Mira goes through in precise and lyrical language.  A feast for the eyes, the prose contained in these pages make the story that much more impactful, and manage to add an entire layer to the events of the book.  Each aspect of this book, the plot, the characterization, the setting, are all elevated by Beth's prose.  It is striking, and paints a picture of exactly what Mira sees and does, but also what she feels.  The emotional tone of this book is what makes it so personal while reading.

Beautifully written, and veritable emotional punch, This is the Story of You by Beth Kephart needs to be on everyone's reading list this summer.

Final Rating

Interview with Beth Kephart

First of all, I want to thank you Beth for taking the time to answer my questions.  I really appreciate it.  

Eli, thank YOU so much. Thank you for agreeing to share your virtual home with me.

I’m going to start with book/writing specific questions, then I’ll have some fun ones!

First question, why is one reason readers should pick up This is the Story of You?

This is a mystery set at the Jersey Shore in the wake of a storm like Storm Sandy. It is urgent, an environmental thriller.

Which character do you think is the most important to this story?

I love all my characters, of course; we writers do. But Mira, a teenager who has been left alone in her house when the storm hits, tells this story. We see it all—the fear, the loneliness, the search for her friends, the worry about her brother—through her eyes.

Set in the North Atlantic, the similarities to Hurricane Sandy are there; was there specific inspiration behind the premise of the book?

Yes. I am deeply committed to our Earth, deeply concerned about rising seas, and when storms hit I cannot look away—all of this inspired THIS IS THE STORY OF YOU. Plus, I grew up going to the Jersey Shore and gosh, I love the sea. Finally, a key character in the book has Hunter syndrome, and I have met and been inspired by others with this condition.

When writing, do you always have a specific plan in place for the direction of the book or do you let it come out naturally?  

I begin with voice—with the sound on the page. In this case, I began with the color blue. I vaguely know where I am headed. But I don’t want to know too much. I write to find out what will happen.

Most books are broken into 3 parts, but the typical bell graph format of events doesn’t seem to be in play in this book; instead it seems to be formatted as a wave, with a high crest right at the beginning and then the book flowing out following the curl.  I may be reading to much into this, but was that a conscience decision to structure the events of the book in this way?

I love your thinking about the book this way. I never have one single plot or emotional line, in any of my books. Many things are at play. In this case, the big storm hits about one-third of the way through. But there is also a mystery in the works—a girl who shows up, a stranger. There’s a thief that has been at work. There are missing characters. So while the storm strikes early-ish on, many unknowns must be encountered and resolved. Many after waves, if you will. Ultimately, this book is about family and how we define family. Mira learns the biggest lessons right at the end.

Most of your books deal with big emotions and, often, traumatic events; what about these things attract you to write about them?

I’m interested in the real things that have and can happened. The Berlin Wall and the legacy of graffiti artists (GOING OVER). Teenage pregnancy and the Spanish Civil War (SMALL DAMAGES). A flood in Florence and neuroscience (ONE THING STOLEN). And, in the case of this book, rising seas and genetic conditions. I may write about these things as fictions. But because the situations are grounded in truth, I write these fictions with the urgency of truth. I teach and also write memoir. I write my novels with the same degree of memoiristic passion.

Thank you so much for those insightful answer!

Okay, now it’s rapid-fire time!

1      Fall, Spring, Summer, or Winter?
Fall! Leaf colors. Chimney smoke. A blanket under which I read.

Hardcover, paperback, or e-book?

Hardback for my shelves, paperback for my travel, e-book for night.

Bookmark or dog-ear?

I write all over the books I love best. I dog ear. I apologize.

Sunrise or sunset?


Long-hand or type-written?

Long-hand. You better believe it. I have a standing desk now. I’m not going to show up and type here until I’m good and ready.

Beginning, middle, or end?

Beginning at the beginning. Middle when I get there. End when I’m exhausted by all that happened in the beginning and the middle.

Thank you again, Beth!  I so enjoyed the book and I know my readers will too!

About the Author

Beth Kephart is the award-winning author of nineteen books, including Going Over, Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir, and Small Damages. A National Book Award finalist, Kephart is also a winner of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fiction grant, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Leeway grant, a Pew Fellowships in the Arts grant, and the Speakeasy Poetry Prize. Kephart teaches workshops at many institutions, to all ages and creative nonfiction workshops at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a popular keynote speaker and frequent contributor to the Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, and many national journals. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Terms and Conditions
Open only to US/CA residents!
No entries outside of US or CA! 
Must be 13 years old to enter. 
ONE winner will win a finished hardcover copy of This is the Story of You.
Winner must have a mailing address within the US/CA.
Prize will be mailed out by publisher (Chronicle Books)
Eli to the nth claims no responsibility for lost prizes.
Winner will be contacted by email. 
Winner has 48 hours to respond with mailing address.
Mailing address will be forwarded to publisher (Chronicle Books)

1 comment:

  1. Well, if we're just talking about things then...my phone.

    Original, I know. lol


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