Last week’s winner of a signed copy of Maryrose Wood’s latest book is bunnyb! Please email me with your mailing address to claim your prize.

Daphne Grab is the author of Alive and Well in Prague, New York, and for those of you who haven’t read it yet, she’s giving away a signed copy to one random commenter this week! I’d love to hear about your favorite books and how you identify with them, and Daphne finds things she can relate to in these diverse titles. And now, on to Daphne Grab’s guest blog:

When I look at my favorite books, they don’t have a huge amount in common.  Like I love Beverly Cleary’s FIFTEEN, a classic and funny romance that is very different from the darkness of Lois Duncan’s THEY NEVER CAME HOME or the revelations of DJ in Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s DAIRY QUEEN, two other top favorites on my list.  But one thing that they all have in common, aside from being great, well written stories, is that they touch on themes that are universal, yet create situations that are unique to their characters.

Like in FIFTEEN: I wasn’t dating back in the fifties when you had to worry about wearing white gloves on a date or not (thankfully- I am a messy person and white gloves would be a disaster for me!).  That experience is all the main character, Jane’s.  But I most certainly had crushes on boys and agonized over whether they liked me or not, as Jane does.

And in THEY NEVER CAME HOME, yeah, my brother and boyfriend never disappeared on a camping trip, but I do know what it is to lose (or think you lose) someone you love and how hard it is to cope with that.

DJ and I do not have athleticism in common: my big physical activity is yoga which is not a sport and I’m not even very good at it.  But have I struggled in my family, worried about boys, had revelations about who I am like DJ?  Absolutely.

To me the best books take you fully into a character’s experience, yet give you a taste of something familiar, that you can identify with.  That way you are sharing in their story and reflecting on your own at the same time.

When I was writing ALIVE AND WELL, I tried so hard to create that balance.  I wanted Matisse to be fully and uniquely herself, yet be a character that girls around the country could relate to and see themselves in.  Did I succeed? Check out the book and let me know what you think!