While getting to know Debutante Joëlle Anthony through her Friday posts, visitors to this season’s Debutante Ball have been treated and enlightened by somewhat of a Renaissance woman. Truly it’s difficult to imagine a challenge this writer can’t resolve (in a practical or unique way) and one needs only to read her YA novel, Restoring Harmony, debuting tomorrow — May 13, 2010 — for proof positive.
Of course by introducing herself with “Deb Joëlle’s real talent is…,” expectations were set high:
“My name is Joëlle Anthony, and I’m pretty sure I was chosen to be a Deb because I know how to make butter. It’s true. You see, when I applied, there was a section on the application for ‘“other things we should know”’/ or something like that, and since I didn’t really think I should admit right then that I have trouble with commas, I decided to explain how to make butter. I am thinking that the 09 Debs read that and thought, ‘“Now there’s a well-rounded girl.”’ Or not.” More…
Her comma trouble (there’s an editor for that) became a non-issue for this superb storyteller who read an excerpt from James Kuntsler’s book, The Long Emergency, that predicted the end of oil and discussed a transition period. Joëlle’s interest wasn’t in the end of oil but of the time period where people dealt and bounced back from it.
The idea for Restoring Harmony was born from that, although Joëlle believes Mr. Kuntsler would say the world she created is much too tame.
Here’s the synopsis:
The year is 2041, and sixteen-year-old Molly McClure has lived a relatively quiet life on an isolated farming island in Canada, but when her family fears the worst may have happened to her grandparents in the US, Molly must brave the dangerous, chaotic world left after global economic collapse—one of massive oil shortages, rampant crime, and abandoned cities.
Molly is relieved to find her grandparents alive in their Portland suburb, but they’re financially ruined and practically starving. What should’ve been a quick trip turns into a full-fledged rescue mission. And when Molly witnesses something the local crime bosses wishes she hadn’t, Molly’s only way home may be to beat them at their own game. Luckily, there’s a handsome stranger who’s willing to help.
Restoring Harmony is a riveting, fast-paced dystopian tale complete with adventure and romance that readers will devour.
The critical literary reviews are glorious despite the fact that some have categorized this as a dystopian novel. For Joëlle tends to disagree by noting: I think of dystopian as some sort of natural disaster or something that happens way off in the future, in a different world. Restoring Harmony is set only thirty years from now, and is very much this world. The problems people are dealing with are mostly from economic collapse, not something wild or futuristic.”
Also one reviewer pointed out that in most dystopian novels it’s the collapse of technology that affects the characters’ daily lives, not new technology. And as this debut author says, “…that’s why I never thought of it as dystopian. It seems like things are sliding backward in RH, instead of moving forward.”
Indeed, backwards to core family values. In fact Joëlle Anthony describes her book in this one sentence: “It’s an adventure story about music, family, and food.”
The October 16, 2009 post, Leap by Deb Joëlle, tells:
“Writing Restoring Harmony was one of the biggest chances I’ve ever taken. It is a departure from everything I’d ever written before. I had been a safe writer. I’d taken “Write what you know” to heart and never strayed from the familiar path of my own self-knowledge and life experiences. But Molly’s story is different. It’s an adventure. It required research. It made me work.”
Those words piqued my interest and remembering them long after reading The Advanced Reader Copy, I asked the author what type of research she did for this amazingly authentic adventure tale and if she ever considered changing Molly into a Michael? Her response is amazing too:
“I did actual physical research, like traveling Molly’s route. And I listened to a lot of fiddle music. I chose tunes I knew for the book, not just random fiddle tunes. Although one serendipitous thing happened as far as the tunes go. There is one in the book called Peekaboo Waltz. When I lived in Tennessee, I heard it on a CD of my husband’s and I asked him to learn it on guitar because I liked it so much, and he did. When it came time to pick a waltz for the book, I knew exactly which one to choose. What I didn’t know is that, ‘“every Western Canadian fiddle player knows the Peekaboo Waltz.”’ I sat in on a fiddle workshop with the master fiddle teacher Gordon Stobbe, and that was what he told his students. And then he taught it to them. I knew it was a traditional tune and played all over, but I didn’t know it was considered something any Western Canadian fiddler should definitely know. That was pure luck.
Also, pretty much all the gardening in the book was research. I now know a lot about gardening as we’re growing a lot of our own food, but at the time I wrote RH, I didn’t know anything about gardening.
Molly was always Molly. I do think that it’s interesting that while most children’s writers are women, a strong female character is considered noteworthy. It seems to me that as a woman, it’s my responsibility to write strong female characters. It doesn’t mean I can’t tell a story from a boy’s POV, but I do consider gender roles very carefully when writing. Like the principal of a school is so often a man, but why? Habit. That’s something I like to challenge with my writing.”
Simply put, I adored this book and Joëlle’s writing of Molly. This realistic character — imbued with enough innocence to be a 16-year old “farm girl” — is also bright, resourceful, caring, hardworking, brave and ready for anything. The truth is that the more YA novels I read, there’s more feeling of hope restored. Molly restored harmony, changing the lives of so many, by her own confident optimism and action. No supernatural powers were necessary, no gimmicks, Molly was merely being the best she could be and what a message to convey to adolescents. Or, for that matter, to anyone.
The world had changed, yet Molly only knew the good times of family, truth, and thoughtfulness. Perhaps that’s what is so compelling about this YA adventure as it takes us back to similar childhood and adolescent years.
How good to be reminded of what we had and how good of Deb Joëlle Anthony to share what our children still might recapture. Restoring Harmony, the book, can be yours tomorrow…while restoring harmony, universally, remains a work in progress.
Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Joëlle Anthony’s Restoring Harmony in a random drawing to anyone who comments on this post today, before the deadline of 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to possibly claim your book.
Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Meredith Cole’s Dead in the Water in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Meredith Cole and Dead in the Water. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in tomorrow’s post. If you enter, please return tomorrow to possibly claim your book.