Until this summer, the biggest problems 16-year-old Samantha Davis faced were her embarrassingly large breasts, (nicknamed "the Grand Tetons after those mountains in Wyoming,") and the fact that her gorgeous best friend, Kitty, always made her feel like a Plain Jane: "It sounds awful, but if you saw a Jaguar and a Ford Taurus parked next to each other, which one would you want to drive?" But now Sammie's parents are splitting, and suddenly she is being assaulted by changes from every direction. She is forced to move from upstate New York to Manhattan, play nursemaid to her depressed mother, and suffer the utter boredom of not knowing anyone in a city of 8 million. But then she meets Eli, the cute "crunchy granola" son of her mom's friend, and Phoebe, the quirky girl in Central Park who categorizes people by the dog breed they resemble. Exposure to the urban scene, new friendships, and a developing sense of self cause Sammie to realize "that along with love comes other four-letter words. Like hate, obviously.... And gain. And most important, grow."
Like other recently published first novelists Lori Aurelia Williams (When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune) and Cat Bauer, (Harley: Like a Person), Carolyn Mackler convincingly captures all the drama, longing, and humor of 21st-century female adolescence. Fresh, funny, and completely irreverent, Love and Other Four-Letter Words is destined to find a place in the hearts of teenaged girls. (Ages 12 and older) --Jennifer Hubert
More about the book
By Liz Cross
LOVE AND OTHER FOUR LETTER WORDS is Carolyn Mackler's first novel.
When I picked up her novel, I couldn't put it down. I loved the characters. The story. Everything. I didn't want the novel to end and actually put off reading the end because I didn't want to finish it. It was that good. I wanted to stay with the characters as long as I could.
Her style is a little Judy Blume, yet she has her own way of drawing the reader in and keeping you there until the very end.
Lets say I was ecstatic when she said she'd answer a few questions for my zine. I am looking forward to more of her novels in the future.
Carolyn Mackler has written feature articles for Ms., Jump, and The Los Angeles Times.
Thank you so much for this interview. Carolyn Mackler is one author I hope will be writing books for a long time.
LIZ: When did you catch the writing bug?
CAROLYN: I've loved telling stories since I was very young, four or five. I used to
record them on an old tape recorder. I still have the tapes! And then I
started keeping a journal when I was 13...and I've been writing pretty
solidly ever since. But the professional writing started when I was 22,
just after I graduated from college. That's when I published my first
article in a magazine. Even then I knew I wanted to write realistic novels
LIZ:Which do you like best to write, fiction or nonfiction?
CAROLYN: I love both. Fiction is probably more of my passion. It satisfies that
thing deep in my soul that drives me to be creative. But nonfiction is a
blast! I especially like writing personal essays. I can get really fired
up about something I believe in, write an essay about it, and get it off my
LIZ: How do you decide what to write about when you start a novel?
CAROLYN: First, I have an idea for a character, a cast of characters. Then I think,
for a long time (maybe two or three years, even!), about what the story
would be. How the characters would grow and change. And once I've figured
a lot of this out, then I start writing.
LIZ: How do you feel about Characters?
CAROLYN: I have to be really intrigued with a character in order to write about them.
And I like to "learn" a lot about them. That is, have a thorough back
story. I spend a lot of time writing about each character, figuring out who
they are, before I ever begin writing the novel. There's so much I know
about the characters that never even enters the book, but it informs them
and thus makes them more believable.
LIZ: Tell me about Sammie from Love and Other Four Letter Words?
CAROLYN: Sammie is a sixteen-year-old girl whose entire life is changing (parents
split up, move to NYC, best friend slipping away). And while she's
desperately resisting the changes, she ultimately learns that they may, in
fact, be for the best.
LIZ: I was really impressed with the mother and daughter relationship in this
novel. It wasn't over the top like "The Gilmore Girls" or "Anywhere but
Here." How did you find the right balance in creating this relationship?
CAROLYN: This was actually a hard relationship to get right! In the first draft, I
had them getting along too well and in the second draft I had them fighting
too much. It was really my brilliant editor at Random House who helped me
find the right balance between love and disgust. This was after MANY
LIZ: I felt the father's influence in the novel was important too. What do
think teens will take from your book about friendships and family?
CAROLYN: To learn to accept change. To say what's on your mind, especially if you're
being hurt. To view your parents as humans, with flaws, but also as people
who are trying to do the right thing. To be compassionate to others, while
also taking care of yourself.
LIZ: What do you feel is important issues that should be addressed in young
CAROLYN: ANYTHING that is real! I think the most important thing in YA literature is
telling the truth. Telling it how it is, whether that's an honest
discussion of sexuality, drugs, relationships, body image woes, etc. ALL
issues that are going on in teen's lives are important.
LIZ: Tell me about your next novel.
CAROLYN: My next novel is the story of a high school senior, Ali, who has always done
the right thing. But when she uncovers a secret from her family's past, her
life veers in a drastically different, more liberated direction.
LIZ: What do you like to do when you aren't writing?
CAROLYN: I love wandering around NYC. Biking. Blading. Hanging out with my cute
boyfriend. Going to flea markets. Getting coffee with my friends. Seeing
movies. Traveling. Cooking new and exciting veggie recipes.