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-four 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 Corey Ann Haydu
Corey Ann Haydu is the author of OCD Love Story, Life By Committee, Making Pretty and her upcoming middle grade debut, Rules For Stealing Stars. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and The New School’s Writing for Children MFA program, Corey has been working in children’s publishing since 2009.
In 2013, Corey was chosen as one of Publisher Weekly’s Flying Starts. Her books have been Junior Library Guild Selections, Indie Next Selections, and BCCB Blue Ribbon Selections.
Corey also teaches YA Novel Writing with Mediabistro and is adapting her debut novel, OCD Love Story into a high school play, which will have its first run in Fall 2015.
Corey lives in Brooklyn with her dog, her boyfriend, and a wide selection of cheese.
I have started and re-started his blog post a dozen times. Writing it now, I’m on my couch with the TV tuned to Shark Tank in an effort to keep some of my feelings at bay. I look down at the keyboard to type, I look up at the TV to disengage from the feelings I’m having, and I look back down to try another sentence that sounds too cheesy or too personal or too academic or too sloppy. I am tearing up trying to find the words to make clear why Evie is my hero, why I think she’s one of the most important characters in YA literature today, and how deeply difficult it is for me to live with the reality that so many readers will dismiss her as unlikable and call it a day.
In the course of Invincible, Evie struggles with two diseases: cancer and addiction. She does not thrive under the weight of either illness. Her cancer makes her depressed and angry and lonely. Her addiction makes her anxious and selfish and scared. Evie’s life is full of people who love her but don’t understand her. Evie maybe doesn’t understand herself. She certainly doesn’t know how to ask for what she wants. She doesn’t know what she wants. Maybe she doesn’t want anything.
I’m struggling again, to write something meaningful. I can’t overstate how much this book means to me, how desperately I want everyone to read it, how much it matters.
I am a person whose life has been centered around the disease of addiction — a cruel, unfair, confounding, infuriating, terrifying, alienating, ruthless disease that infects a family. That is the reality I’ve lived in. it’s not my disease, except in so many other ways it is, because addiction is so destructive and powerful that even if you are not an addict, you are under its thumb my simply being in its vicinity. It is out to destroy. It is not messy. It is something so far beyond messy that we don’t have a word for it.
I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to understand addiction. It’s not an easy thing to understand even if you are living under the same roof as it, even if you are attending family week at rehab centers, or witnessing or participating in someone’s twelve steps or reading memoirs and novels and scientific research. It is slippery. It is strange. It is hard to grasp without falling back into anger. You reach for compassion, and you find yourself right back in rage.
It would be easy for me to read Invincible with that same rage I’ve felt so many times. Rage I will feel again, because I don’t think once you find compassion you can always locate it again. But Evie made it impossible, for the hours I spent reading this book, for me to locate my rage. When I was reading Invincible, I let go of my anger. I stopped feeling sorry for myself as a person who has lived with someone else’s addiction, and I experienced an opening of space where I related to Evie, instead of her friends and family. It would be natural for me to feel connected to her parents, her sister, her love interests, her best friend. It would be natural for me to sit in judgment and wish Evie would just get herself together and stop making life so hard on everyone else.
I was shocked — shocked — to find myself relating to Evie. Instead of demanding that she understand how much her family loved her, I wanted to demand that they accept her pain. Instead of wanting to throw the book across the room because of Evie’s failings — which were great — I wanted to throw the book across the room because of her loved ones’ failings — which were also great.
I loved Evie. I accepted her. And because she showed me where to find that love and acceptance, some part of my life has changed.
Evie is a heroic character because she has to endure things that most people in her life won’t ever understand. I relate to that. I know how challenging that is. Evie is a heroic character because she will be judged for her pain when so many other victims of illness get lauded for their survival. Evie is a heroic character because she doesn’t get an easy road out. She’s heroic because she’s real.
I wish I could write the perfect post on Evie, and the perfect post on my own life. I wish this were an incredible personal essay that wove together her pain with mine and left readers feeling moved or inspired or connected.
I don’t think I can write that post. The things Evie gave me are so deep down inside me, they’re hard to write about, they’re hard to talk about.
Pain doesn’t always have an opposite. Dark and light don’t always fit together, in perfect balance. Disease and cures don’t exist in balance either. Addiction and recovery don’t exist in equal but opposite capacities.
I wish they did.
Evie doesn’t get to live in a world that so many characters get to live in. Evie has to live in our world. She has to live in the world where her pain makes people angry, where her inability to save herself seems like a failure, where her unimaginable circumstances are dismissed as something she should be able to overcome. Evie has to live in our world.
Evie is a character who is telling the truth. And reading her story made me realize just how thirsty for that I really am. And just how very, very powerful the truth can be.
I believe in hope. But sometimes the hope is hidden, and in this case, Evie is a hero because she gave me hope that I can access more compassion, that I can understand some part of something I’ve always struggled to understand. Darkness and light don’t always exist in perfect balance, but hope is there anyway. Tiny, dim, hidden, but there.
I’ve always had hope. But Evie helped me locate a part of myself I didn’t think I had. Forgiveness.
Title Making Pretty
Author Corey Ann Haydu
Pages 368 Pages
Genre Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publisher Katherine Tegen Books
To Be Published May 12th, 2015
Find It On Goodreads ● Amazon.com ● Chapters ● The Book Depository
Montana and her sister, Arizona, are named after the mountainous states their mother left them for. But Montana is a New York City girl through and through, and as the city heats up, she’s stepping into the most intense summer of her life. Her father is distracted by yet another divorce, and she’s growing apart from her sister. Then she meets wild, bold Karissa, who encourages Montana to live in technicolor and chase new experiences. But the more of her own secrets Karissa reveals, the more Montana has to wonder if Karissa’s someone she can really trust.
In the midst of her uncertainty, Montana finds a beautiful distraction in Bernardo. He’s serious and spontaneous, and he looks at Montana in the way she wants to be seen. For the first time, Montana understands how you can become both lost and found in somebody else. But when that love becomes everything, where does it leave the rest of her imperfect life?