Last week I included The Female of the Species in my #5Books recommendation post and haven’t been able to get the blurb out of my head — and Alex:
Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.
While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.
But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.
So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.
Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.
You can see it’s a dark story, in fact all of the reviews on Goodreads agree it’s a dark book, with tough themes. Mindy has worked as a librarian for 13 years, and wrote A Madness So Discreet, which so many book bloggers loved. My question for Mindy was about the darkness in Alex that jumped out at me from the blurb and I wondered, as a YA book, where was the line for this darkness in Alex when Mindy wrote her? Or, was there a line at all? As a YA author writing about tough themes as in Species, what does she keep in mind above all else when she’s writing with themes like this?
Here is Mindy’s answer:
I’m not sure that there is a line, or even that there should be one. Yes, the topic is tough, which means the content and narrative have to be equally so in order to be honest to the subject matter. I don’t think teens need this topic – or any other – sugar coated for them. I work in a high school library, and I know for a fact that teens will self-censor. If they don’t think they’re ready for the material, or if they find something offensive in it, they will put it down. And that’s fine. This book is not for everyone.
What do you think? Do you agree with Mindy?
I know I would have appreciated fiction that treated me honestly growing up, and something to remember is these days teens deal with so much more than they did at one time.
And in case anyone was wondering about the animals on the cover, because I was so curious, Mindy says:
I have input into my cover, but I don’t choose or do any of the designing myself. I have a very talented cover designer a HarperCollins who has done all of my covers so far. Her name is Erin Fitzsimmons, and I’m very lucky to have her. A sketch artist did the different animals, so I don’t know how she chose which to use. But I do like the ones she went with!
What do you think those animals are on the cover?