Pub Date 05 May 2018
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A contemporary story about family and friendship for fans of Eleanor Porter and L.M. Montgomery.
Harper Southwood is a teenage girl who can sense when people will get sick—but so what? She can’t predict her best friend’s depression or her mother’s impending health crisis. Being helpful is all Harper ever wanted, but she feels helpless in the face of real adversity. Now, she’s got a chance to summon her courage and use her wits to fight for justice. Laugh and cry along with this irrepressible, high-spirited teen in her journey of self-discovery, as she learns that compassion and internal strength are her real gifts, her true superpower.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kelley Bowles Gusich writes young adult novels under the pen name Kelley Kay Bowles. Kelley taught high school English and drama for twenty years in Colorado and California, but a 1994 diagnosis of multiple sclerosis has (circuitously and finally) brought her to the life of writer and mother, both occupations she adores and dreamed about way back when she was making up stories revolving around her Barbie and Ken dolls. Her debut novel, cozy mystery Death by Diploma (pen name Kelley Kaye), was released by Red Adept Publishing on February 2016, and is first in her Chalkboard Outlines® series.
Kelley has two wonderful and funny sons and an amazing husband who cooks for her. She lives in Southern California.
A Note From the Publisher
SUBGENRES: YA social/family issues, YA coming of age. FORMATS: Hard cover, paperback, e-book, audio book.
"A teenager learns to cope with her loved ones’ problems in this YA novel.
Harper Southwood is in her sophomore year in high school. She has only one friend, Cora Perkins; is in love with a boy she’s never spoken to; and feels so different from those around her that she’s become convinced she must be a changeling: a troll switched at birth with a human baby. That would account for her twitches and allergic reactions whenever someone nearby is getting sick. It would also explain her curiosity—she’s always looking things up—her insecurities, and her inability to connect with her classmates. Harper may not feel normal, but she does have the love and support of her family: her mum and dad and her gay live-in uncle. Teenage life is what it is; Harper knows she’ll get through it. But then Cora starts cutting herself and Harper handles it poorly. Before she knows it, Cora lands in the hospital. Then Harper’s mum takes ill, and the teen, already out of her depth, is partnered in science class with the boy she loves. The people she relies on most now need her support, but can she cope with the serious adult issues suddenly piled on top of her teen problems? Bowles (In Vision’s Shadow, 2006), who also writes books under the name of Kelley Kaye, clearly understands the world of young adults. Her depiction of Harper—her anxieties and excitability; her inner and outer personas; her heightened sense of the importance of “now”—cannot fail to pull readers into a teen mindset. The story is increasingly dark, yet in the telling it neither wallows nor depresses. Harper is allowed strength in her vulnerability. For all her isolation, it is her empathy that makes her special. There is a message here but not one that is pushed beyond the pale. Bowles writes to engage and to confront yet always seemingly with the intent to uplift. The resulting novel, far from being a leaden treatise on teen suffering, spurns literary pretensions and strives instead to include Harper’s generation of young adults and give this group its due. Girls especially will relate, but there is room here for everyone.
A sage, vivacious tale of people set apart and brought together."—Kirkus Reviews
“Bowles' writing is lively and fun, yet still grounded and full of depth. The characters pop off of the page, all vividly realized. No one in this book is perfect, but they are all trying their best. They're real and three dimensional. They hide things from each other not to be mean, but because they don't want their loved ones to worry. This is a wonderful book that cleverly explores some powerful and painful emotions.”
—Victor Catano, best-selling author of Tail & Trouble and technical director at the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College
“Tackles sensitive social issues with heartfelt emotion and tender wit. Readers will be instantly drawn into the world of Harper Ella Southwood.... Well-drawn characters and themes exploring the mysterious power of the unseen infuse this inventive, revelatory novel.”
—Kathleen Gerard, author of the novels The Thing Is, In Transit, and Cold Comfort
“The plot—revolving around the kinds of tragic occurrences that, unfortunately, we read about on an all-too-regular basis these days—feels real and relatable…. You quickly find yourself rooting for [Harper Southwood]…. I found myself smiling as she sneezed…. All in all, an enjoyable and captivating read.”
—Brian S. Leon, author of Havoc Rising
“A novel that tugs on all the strings, bravely tackling a host of real issues affecting the average American teenager... While the people around her are falling apart, Harper tries to be the glue that holds them together, confronting life's tragedies with the maturity of an adult, the awkwardness of a teen, and the courage of a child. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes hopeful, always true, Down in the Belly of the Whale reminds us that life can hit hard no matter where we are in it, and our strength and charity will have more to say about how we handle those hits than the number of years we have behind us. Bowles' writing is superb, her characters dimensional and identifiable. Down in the Belly of the Whale is Ordinary People for a new generation.”
—Jason Parent, author of What Hides Within and Seeing Evil
“Kelley Kay’s very personal story of ‘growing
up peculiar’ is at all times humorous and harrowing, romantic and revealing,
and an honest true-to-life lesson about being a teenager in this most
interesting of times. Though not written for trolls, it’s definitely a must
read for anyone who’s ever felt not quite human.”
—Shawn Clingman, English/drama teacher and director, Grand Junction High School.
“A consummate supernatural coming-of-age story. Harper Southwood is the girl I wouldn’t have given a second look at when I was in high school, but look back on as an adult with regret at passing up the chance to get to know her.”
—Ira Creasman, a high school librarian who reads a lot of young adult fiction and ruminates over what might have been
“A fast-paced, yet heartfelt account of an
average teenager girl whose life takes a series of sudden and unexpected turns….
Possibly the most important
aspect of Down in the Belly of the Whale, are the messages that it conveys. Some
of these messages are to be brave, even when you do not think you cannot be,
that you belong even when you think you do not, that the person you thought you
loved is not the right person for you, and that high school anatomy is as awful
as I has I remember it.”
—Timmie Quitugua, librarian
“I was immediately transported back to my high school hallways, my high school dramas… my high school self. Harper Southwood is winsome and charming. I laughed out loud when Harper talked and cried with her when she was afraid. The fact that acupuncture had a cameo role in the story was just icing on the cake.”
—Sara Beckner, MACoM (Masters of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), Lac (Licensed Acupunturist)