their new teen line this week with the release of Jacquelyn Mitchard's latest, What We Saw At Night.
Allie, Rob, and Juliet are best friends. They grew up together in their small town of Iron Harbor, home to the renowned Tabor Clinic, and a facility dedicated to the study of Xeroderma Pigmentosum, a rare genetic disorder that results in a deadly sun allergy. All three teens suffer from the disorder leaving their activity confined to the dark. With XP also comes a relatively short life expectancy, but the three of them have embraced their situations and their lives, vowing to live to the fullest. And so it seems natural that they take up parkour, a potentially dangerous sport that involves skill, dedication, and concentration using the environment around them as a means to get around. But their new sport turns dangerous in ways they couldn't imagine when they witness something they never should have seen. Allie knows that they're all in danger but no one believes her. Now it's up to her to prove what they saw and hopefully keep all three of them safe.
Mitchard is no stranger to the YA world. In fact, she's the author of a number of titles for all ages. For the tour, I asked her about the difference between writing for adults and writing for teens. Here's what she had to say:
The only distinction for me between writing a book for adults and a book "for" teens is that the main characters are teenagers. But that's true in so many great books -- old ones like NATIONAL VELVET and new ones like EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE . I write about different events, because a teen's personal geography is so different from an adults (like, you usually don't see "This takes place in three countries and over a period of twenty years …") In that sense, it's smaller. In the emotional sense, it's steeper. For a kid, every day is a month; every month is a year; every year is an era. Their lives are emotionally epic, and stories have to reflect that. As for standards, vocabulary, writing … oh! I would never write down to a teen audience. They are discriminating and fierce in their judgments.
With What We Saw At Night, I can say that Mitchard definitely succeeds in creating a suspenseful and serious teen mystery. Each of the characters is believable as teens -- never once coming across as teens from an adult perspective. Their issues are mostly typical of teens but the addition of XP makes the story even more interesting. What's more, the mystery is well plotted and leads directly into a follow up title readers will no doubt be clamoring for. I know I'm looking forward to continuing Allie's story in What We Lost in the Dark.
What We Saw At Night is an exciting way to start the new SOHO Teen imprint and is just the first of many titles to come. Feb sees the release of Who Done It? a collection of shorts edited by Jon Scieszka. In March comes Margaux Froley's Escape Theory, April is Michelle Gagnong's Strangelets, May is Joy Preble's The Sweet Dead Life, and June sees the release of Helen FitzGerald's Deviant. For excerpts on each title and more, visit the SOHO Teen page (linked at the top).