Her Story: Ladies In Literature 2018 with Blair Thornburgh

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as twenty-six authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!


About Blair Thornburgh

Blair Thornburgh writes books for and about smart teenagers. Her first book, Stuff Every College Student Should Know, was published by Quirk Books in 2014 and makes a great gift. Her second book and debut novel, Who’s That Girl, was published by HarperCollins in July 2017. She lives in Philadelphia.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterTumblrGoodreads




As a kid, I knew that some books were special. Some books got it. Some books I picked up and was astonished that the author — a grown-up — knew what it was like to be six, eight, ten, twelve. Reading the Ramona Quimby books, I have a distinct memory of thinking “but how does Beverly Cleary remember how frustrating it is to have that other girl copy your owl?” But for me, no heroine hit closer to my weird, wonky little heart than Anastasia Krupnik.

I first encountered Anastasia in one of those beautiful moments of classroom library happenstance — the book was on the shelf, the spine was an intriguing color, and the cover piqued my interest. Soon, I had tracked down the whole series, and devoured all the adventures of Anastasia, her younger brother Sam, her poetry professor and children’s book illustrator parents, and their ersatz Victorian house in the Boston suburbs.

Except her stories weren’t really “adventures” in the action-packed, mega-wacky, brightly-colored sense of lots of middle grade. They were about mishaps, misunderstandings, mishearings, and forgetting to leave out the chicken to thaw for dinner. They were about communing with a bust of Sigmund Freud or accidentally putting out a bomb with a bag of dog poop. They were hilarious, and entertaining, but they never felt forced.

Anastasia was smart. She was weird. Her parents argued over Wordsworth poems and yet could never keep their house clean. Her stories hinged on an incorrect definition of the word “debacle” or an erroneous assumption that Gertrude Stein was not only alive, but living as a witch next door. She kept a notebook, but never in a consistent form — sometimes it was lists, sometimes novel excerpts, sometimes passages from schoolwork. She had big hair and glasses and wore hiking boots. She wasn’t particularly feisty or spunky, but she wasn’t shy or withdrawn, either; she was just herself, and that worked. For a congenital oddball like me, who once got teased to the point of tears at church Youth Group for using the word “frankly,” and whose mother was a children’s book illustrator, and who lived in an ersatz Victorian house, Anastasia was just real.

So when I started writing YA, it wasn’t exactly a surprise when I found I couldn’t write fantasy assassins or steamy romances or unreliable narrators or, honestly, anything involving worldbuilding more complex than an imagining up an ersatz Victorian house. But I could write offbeat girls with friendly, imperfect parents and lives filled with embarrassing incidents, inside jokes, and lots and lots of reading. I hoped that my books would show a young adulthood full of all the embarrassing hilarity (and hilarious embarrassment) of the kind of life that Anastasia and I shared.

Title Who’s That Girl
Author Blair Thornburgh
Pages 400 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Publication Date July 11th 2017 by HarperTeen
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Junior Nattie McCullough has always been that under-the-radar straight girl who hangs out in the cafeteria with her gay-straight alliance friends. She’s never been the girl that gets the guy, let alone the girl that gets a hit song named after her.

But when last summer’s crush, smoking-hot musician Sebastian Delacroix — who has recently hit the mainstream big-time — returns home to play a local show, that’s just what she gets. He and his band, the Young Lungs, have written a chart-topping single — “Natalie” — which instantly makes Nattie second guess everything she thought about their awkward non-kiss at that June pool party. That it was horrific. That it meant nothing. That Sebastian never gave her another thought.

To help keep her mind off of Sebastian and his maybe-about-her, maybe-not-about-her song, Nattie throws herself into planning the school’s LGBTQIA dance. That proves problematic, too, when Nattie begins to develop feelings for her good friend Zach. With the song getting major airplay and her once-normal life starting to resemble the cover of a gossip magazine, Nattie is determined to figure out once and for all if her brief moment with Sebastian was the stuff love songs are made of — or just a one-hit wonder.

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