“A searing portrayal of a teen navigating her dysfunctional family that leaves readers hopeful. Meyer astutely captures the horrors of self-harm and domestic violence.” —Kirkus Reviews
About the book:
When the darkness is too great,
When the pain is too real,
There is nothing but sharp edges,
To remind me that I am alive. —Rowan Slone
Seven years ago, an innocent act by Rowan Slone turned her life into a nightmare. Since the age of ten she’s lived with the burden of her baby brother’s death. Now she is seventeen and all she wants to do is graduate high school, go to college, and escape the loveless family she has endured all these years—the same family that holds her responsible for his death. But no one holds her responsible more than herself.
When long-time crush Mike Anderson invites her to the Prom, suddenly her future looks brighter. Rowan’s younger sister, Trina, however, is determined to ruin her new-found happiness, no matter the cost. And when Rowan discovers her mother’s long-held secret, she finds herself teetering on the edge of an abyss.
Can Rowan find the strength to move toward the future or is she doomed to dwell in the past?
How did the idea of the Rowan Slone series come to you? The idea of Rowan came to me as I listened to a friend’s concerns about a girl she knew who was struggling her way through high school. She had a troubled home life. Was failing out of school. Had dappled in sex and drugs at an early age. The seed was planted then. I took that seed, and let my imagination feed and nourish it to growth until Rowan Slone became a fully developed character. Once Rowan took form, the series unfolded very organically and naturally.
Describe Rowan in twenty-five words or less: Vulnerable. Damaged. Traumatized. Fragile. Strong. Determined. Hopeful. The sequence of these words, from powerfully painful to powerfully, well, powerful, is this way for a reason. They depict Rowan’s journey in a neat, devastating little bow.
“a deep, emotionally intense novel… Meyer is an author worth keeping an eye on, and a talent worth reading!!!” —InD’Tale Magazine
How has your background as a social worker helped you in writing Rowan’s story? It’s more than my work as a social worker, but what led me to becoming a social worker that has left the greatest impact on my writing. A need to understand myself, my sensitivities, my emotions, my empathic tendencies that make me who I am, and can make the world so very difficult for me to maneuver is what drew me into the field of mental health. It’s through my own journey of study, self-awareness, understanding, and acceptance that I was able to create Rowan’s story. I’m not sure I could have gotten so deeply into her mindset had I not gone through my own struggles, struggles that led me to this career in social work.
You also wrote the award-winning The Reformation of Marli Meade. That book, while more on a horror/suspense slant also features a strong-willed girl, trying to shed her family and their origins. Besides the genre, how does that novel differ from Rowan’s story? Marli’s family is like a cult, a rural, isolated, sinister cult—an aspect of family life that does not really follow the mainstream. Rowan’s family, on the other hand, is a more common, though no less devastating, type of family, where domestic violence is common, resentment and anger and alcoholism are the norm. Both families leave deep scars on the girls, but in different ways.
In many of the reviews of the book, readers tend to feel a closeness to Rowan, almost as if she is a real person. How does this make you feel? When I was writing Rowan’s story, I started to feel like she was a real person too, so I am thrilled readers feel that same connection. At one point, I even starting referring to her by name, like she was an acquaintance and not a fictionalized character. I have never felt such a connection to a character before.
“Meyer has a great writing style that will suck you in…” —The NerdHerd Reads
I think what makes her so relatable is that she is vulnerable. She is damaged. She teeters on the edge of hopelessness. Many of us can identify with her struggles, even if our stories are vastly different. Yet she also has a hidden strength that many of us also have, even if we don’t know it yet. In the end, I think we identify with her because she is so raw, so real.
If you could have a reader take just one thing away from the story, what would you want that to be? Hopefulness. We must remain hopeful even in the midst of the most encompassing darkness. We never know what is around the corner, or lying await for us in the future. Rowan did not know her life could or would change, but she hoped it would, and that kept her from giving in. If we give in to the darkness now, we cheat ourselves of all those possibilities. Hope for what that future life brings is vital.
What message would you give to teens who struggle with the issues explored in the series? You are not alone. You are never alone. Ever. Reach out. Teachers. Friends. Acquaintances—help can come in the most unlikely of places. Parents. Coaches. The sweet lady behind the counter at CVS who always greets you with a smile. There is too much pain in the world, and we can find great comfort in each other, if we only reach out, if we only realize we are not alone.
What’s next in the Rowan series? A Life, Forward picks up where A Life, Redefined ends, and then A Life, Freed wraps up Rowan’s story in a slightly wilted yet still beautiful bow.
What’s next for you after Rowan’s story is completed? I am working on a couple of YA thrillers in the tone of The Reformation of Marli Meade. A little dark. A little edgy. A little sinister and creepy. But as with Rowan, the books always end with a dose of triumph and hope.
Read an excerpt of A Life, Redefined
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About Tracy Hewitt Meyer:
Tracy Hewitt Meyer enjoys writing young adult fiction for girls. Much of her work centers around the challenges teenagers face, and she has tackled the topics of pregnancy, cutting, and transgender. She holds a B.A. in English and a Master of Social Work. Her other work includes The Reformation of Marli Meade, which earned a Gold Medal for Best Regional Fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. Her short story on transgender, “Tender is the Deception,” appears in the YA anthology On the Edge of Tomorrow. Tracy lives in Virginia with her husband and two children.
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