The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi Blog Tour (Character Spotlight)

17586458The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Genre: Contemporary and Young Adult

Release Date: April 1, 2014

Pages: 352 (Paperback)

good good

Lexi has a secret…

Ever since her mom found out she was in love with a girl, seventeen-year-old Lexi’s afraid that what’s left of her family is going to fall apart for good.

You are on the road to truth. Help is on the way.

The road signs leading to New Horizons summer camp promise a new life for Lexi—she swears she can change. She can learn to like boys. But denying her feelings is harder than she thinks. And when she falls heads over heels for one of her fellow campers, Lexi will have to risk her mother’s approval for the one person who might love her no matter what.

Hello, everyone! A few months ago, I did a review on this novel and I really enjoyed it. Today, the author, Jessica Verdi is here to do a character spotlight on her character, Matthew! 

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Abbe, and for asking me to spotlight one of the secondary characters in The Summer I Wasn’t Me. I’d like to tell you a little bit more about the character who seems to be everyone’s favorite: Matthew. 🙂

In the book, the main character Lexi is assigned to a group of four—two boys, two girls—who will be her core group for the entire summer. And so we are introduced to Carolyn, the girl Lexi has a crush on; Daniel, the shy boy who so desperately want to change because of his religious beliefs; and Matthew, the outgoing boy who thinks the conversion camp is pure B.S. and is only there because he was forced to be by his parents.

Matthew Hilson is seventeen years old, he lives in San Diego, California, and he has a boyfriend named Justin whom he’s head over heels in love with. He does community theater and works part-time at a dog groomer. He’s been out since he was fourteen. He has a ton of friends back home, and for good reason—he’s awesome. He’s fun and brave and honest. He believes in seeing the good in people, and he’s a romantic at heart.

There are a lot of very difficult things that happen at New Horizons summer camp (all based on the harsh realities of reparative therapy), yet as an author I had to be careful to not put my personal feelings on the story. That wouldn’t be interesting for anyone—and it would be a very short book. If I were Lexi, I never would have gone to New Horizons in the first place. And if I did somehow end up there, I would have called B.S. on them on the very first day and gone home. Haha. But Lexi is not me, and if I put my personal feelings on the story too much, I’d be doing her and the book a disservice. Because not every kid who is sent to a camp like this sees things so black and white. For many of them, there are many shades of gray, many factors for wanting to become straight, stemming from their religion or fear or family obligation or any number of things. I wanted to tell a real, honest story about what the experience might be like for those kids, and what they might go along with or subject themselves to, all for the sake of an impossible goal. I wanted the story to be nuanced and emotional, and I wanted all readers, regardless of their religious beliefs or sexuality, to feel like they understand the motivations of the various characters.

So writing the character of Matthew was incredibly cathartic because he was the one character who was able to say all the things I was thinking as I was writing and researching. He was able to be the voice of reason in so many instances. Whenever there was a moment where my heart was breaking as I put my characters in a difficult situation, I had Matthew to say what I was thinking, to lighten the moment, to show a difference perspective. I needed him, and I love him.

He’s also just really cool and funny, and the consensus between readers and reviewers has been that everyone just really wants to friends with him. And so do I! 🙂

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