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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Guest Post with Phoebe Kitanidis, Author of Whisper

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray; 1 edition (April 27, 2010)

ABOUT THE BOOK: I'd love a cup of coffee. . . . I wish she didn't hide how pretty she is. . . . I hope she didn't find out what Ben said about her. . . . I wish I knew how many calories were in a bite of muffin. . . .

Joy is used to Hearing Whispers. She's used to walking down the street and instantly knowing people's deepest, darkest desires. She uses this talent for good—to make people happy and give them what they want. But for her older sister, Jessica, the family gift is a curse, and she uses it to make people's lives—especially Joy's—miserable. Still, when Joy Hears Jessica Whisper I want to kill my Hearing dead, and kill me too if that's what it takes, she knows she has to save her sister, even if it means deserting her friends, stealing a car, and running away with a boy she barely knows—a boy who may have a dark secret of his own.

My parents, scientific types, always used to say my brother Dean and I were living proof that astrology was bunk. Born seven years and seven days apart in July, we have drastically different personalities (neither of which fits the Cancerian mold, btw). You’d think that what with us sharing genes and the same upbringing and all, we’d practically be the same person… but it’s uncanny how many sets of siblings are total opposites. Jessica and Joy Stefani, the psychic sisters in Whisper, are no exception.

One reason siblings take different paths is not to step on each other’s toes. After all, if I love theatre and theatre guys, and my sister does too, we’re competing for the same roles… and the same dudes. (See My Invented Life by Lauren Bjorkman.) But occasionally one sib serves as a cautionary tale for the other. Joy knows if she follows her big sister Jessica, she could end up just like her: alone and bitter. That motivates her to branch out. (Same reasoning applies in Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler.) Sadly, sometimes siblings can drift so far apart that they end up in different worlds, speaking different languages—unable to relate to each other all. But I believe that even then, there’s a strong connection between them… it’s just that they can’t see it.

I love to write about hidden connections. The way we all affect each other, bounce off each other, without realizing or acknowledging it. That’s what Whisper is really about. Joy’s built her life around Not Being Her Sister; she feels so separate from her she can’t even see how much Jessica’s choices have influenced her own. When I wrote their dialogue together, it flowed more easily for me than any other part of the draft—because to me they are parts of a whole, two voices that go together. They’re each lonely and isolated because they’ve shut each other out. It’s like they’re each playing a part in a play, but got so invested the roles themselves that they forgot they were in the same play.

I think in real life too, it can be hard to see the connections between family members that lead to patterns of thoughts and behavior—like: B never talks back to Mom because she sees how upset Mom gets when her brother A does it… and that affects B down the line when she avoids arguing with her best friend because she’s “not that kind of person.” We’re more likely to just assume that B happens to be the quiet, super-achiever type, while A’s a natural-born rebel. Maybe it’s because we’re all supposed to see ourselves and each other as purely individuals. It weirds us out to think our personalities might only be pieces of some larger puzzle. That other people’s wishes might shape our own. Or that a brother or sister, in addition to hogging the bathroom or pinching us in the backseat of the family station wagon, might have shaped who we are.

If you have a brother or sister, do you feel like you’re mostly similar or different? How do you feel you’ve influenced each other?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Phoebe Kitanidis is a Greek-American writer, author of the YA novel Whisper. She is currently at work on a second teen novel titled Summer Falls. Phoebe grew up in a variety of places, including Athens, Greece; the American Midwest; and the San Francisco Bay Area. She attended five elementary schools and has moved more than twenty times. After her graduation from U.C. Berkeley, she taught Language Arts, then worked in a few high-tech corporate offices. In 2004, she earned her M.A. in Communication from San Jose State University. That year, she also traded the Bay Area’s sunshine for cloudy Seattle, where she began her writing career.

A six-year contributor to Discovery Girls magazine, Phoebe Kitanidis wrote Fab Girls Guide to Friendship Hardship as well as dozens of articles for tween girls. Now a full-time novelist and settled Seattle transplant, she lives with her partner, Robert, and their grey cat, Myst.

Purchase Whisper on Amazon.com
To learn more, visit the Official Blog of Phoebe Kitanidis.

Tantalizing Tuesday is a weekly feature showcasing exciting novels and the inspiring authors behind them.


Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Me and my sis are like night and day. We love each other to pieces though.

RaĆ­la said...

Aw, it's a pretty interesting subject. I have 4 siblings - two older brothers, an older sister and a baby brother. Well, the oldest do not live with me and never did. Only my baby brother is son of both my parents. The others are all only my dad's children. Except my sister, though, they always come to my house to stay with me and my dad for a few days. And it was only last year when I really started to talk more to my sister and then I realized how similiar we are. We kinda like the same things and all... All of us are very united. And, I think, because of our ages, we never really fight or something like that. :)

Great post, Phoebeeeeee! You rock!

Phoebe Kitanidis said...

@Juju, I think it's great you and your night-and-day sister are on the same team!
@Raila, that makes sense. My sister and I have a lot of similarities and never fight--and we also have a huge age difference. I guess we were never in competition because she was born just 4 years before I left for college.

Anonymous said...

My sister and I are 5 years apart. We both have dark hair and dark eyes. I have curly hair, her's is as straight as a line. Her nose is normal, and mine has a slope that could only be defined as GREEK. AS the older sister I deffinetly had the privlige and sometime obligation to teach and infleunce my sister. My sister is 12 now and is blossoming into a beautiful young woman. I am proud of her, and I'm proud to say I see myself in her too. My sister has shown me a patience that can only be taught by a younger sibling, a patience that most will not aquire. She's my daily laughter and also the annoying thorn in my side. I guess what I'm saying is that no matter how different she will grow up to be, or how similar we will end up being, She's my sister. And I will love her no matter how she turns out :]

Bee said...

My brother and I have a 7 year age diff and while we fight like cats and dogs, we love each other to bits!

Bee said...

Also, I have to say I LOVE books which have a sibling bond central to its plot. I think sibling bonds can be stronger than any other bond (irrespective of who it's formed with).

Kudos for Whisper!

Emma said...

Wonderful post. I am an only child but it certainly makes me ponder on my friends' siblings!