January 12, 2016

The Distance from A to Z | Review + Interview with Natalie Blitt

The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt
pub Jan 12, 2016 by HarperCollins
Young Adult - Contemporary
Received by publisher via Edelweiss
The Distance from A to Z had all the makings of a book I would love. Adorable romance? Check. Best friends? Double check. Countless mentions of Paris and all things French? Triple check. I had a feeling I would enjoy it but I had no idea just how much. And the answer to that is – A LOT. When seventeen-year-old Abby begins her immersive French summer program at a nearby university, all she wants to do was become fluent and take a long, much-needed break from her baseball-obsessed family. I immediately understood how you can love your close-knit family but still need time away from them to find something of your own. For Abby, that something is French and all the words and phrase sprinkled throughout the book made me want to learn the language myself. (I totally downloaded Duolingo after reading.) It's through this class that she gets partnered with a boy she meets on her first day, Zeke. A jock who clearly loves baseball judging from his parade of caps and jerseys. She's determined to not like him, being anti-sports and all, but he is as equally determined to get under her skin. Which he adorably accomplishes! The program requires them to have 80 hours of conversation practice so they end up spending a lot of time together. Slowly but surely, she discovers there's much more to him than meets the eye but also something he's not quite telling her.

What surprised me was that the book didn't just focus on romance. If you read between the lines, Abby grows a lot over the summer in ways that felt very real to me. She's not afraid to geek out over a language she loves. She makes mistakes and can turn right around to apologize. She becomes best friends with her roommate and the way she gushes over their friendship warmed my heart because it is exciting to meet someone you click with. And despite her judgement about baseball, she allows herself to see past that when she's with Zeke. Especially when they're speaking in French.

Do I recommend? I didn't even bother with the usual "reservations" section of my reviews because.. I don't have any! It's a great book and one I hope you'll check out.

*** 
Joining me on the blog today is Natalie Blitt! As someone who enjoyed her book immensely, I'm excited to ask her a few questions about The Distance from A to Z and our mutual love of all things Paris and French.

1. Hi Natalie! Thank you for joining me on the blog today. You already know how much I adored your book and I’ve been curious to know, what was the inspiration for it? 

It's actually a funny story. I have three sons -- all of whom are obsessed with sports but especially baseball. When people ask me how I get time to think up stories, I always say that it's because all their time playing, watching or quizzing each other on sports trivia. So my husband suggested I write a baseball book so I can talk to the kids about the books I write. That's how I came up with a baseball-hating main character who is stuck in a family of obsessive sports fans. My kids were sad that the book is YA though. They were hoping for a Matt Christopher type of sports story. But they did give me a lot of help in the trivia quiz scene!

2. All the characters felt so real and showcased a multitude of personalities without ever seeming like stereotypes. I definitely saw a bit of myself in Abby and in her roommate Alice (and I wish I knew a guy like Zeke!). Which of the character are you most like? Do you have a favorite? 

I love all the characters, without question. I have a lot in common with Abby obviously, because we both (sometimes) look down on sports, we're both obsessed with French and... I also attended a summer college program for high school students (though I studied Macro Economics and Introduction to International Relations).

But totally unexpectedly, Alice is the character who I love and feel protective over. She's both a lot like me, and someone I wish was real and my best friend. I love her fierceness and her vulnerability. There's a lot of me in there, and a lot of what I wish was me. I'm really hoping I get to write her book next!

3. As a self-proclaimed francophile, I loved all the French in the book and all the references to Paris. I even enjoyed the parts about baseball even though I’m not much of a sports person (sorry!). But I just appreciated all the details and how the characters felt about both French culture and the sport. Was that based on your own love for them?

Baseball has been an acquired taste for me. But truthfully, I have started to love it, mostly as a result of watching my kids love it so much. I actually enjoy watching Little League games -- especially when the kids are really young and they're mostly watching the sky and the grass.

But French... that's been a part of my life forever. I went to French private school growing up, but I rarely get to use it anymore. It's part of the reason it was so much fun to write this book. I listened to a ton of French music (thank you Pandora!) and it really helped me get into the zone.

4. This is your debut novel and it’s out today! What does it feel like to have your book out in the world and to be a published author?

You can't tell that I'm crying as I write this, can you? I know everyone says this, but I 100% never believed this would happen. For so long, I didn't write because I was afraid that what I write would be terrible. Learning to be brave about writing, about showing it to people, about querying and looking for an agent... it's been an incredible few years.

5. Last question! I wanted to make it a fun one. What is your favorite French movie, food and if you’ve been to Paris, do you have a favorite spot? 

French movie: Definitely Amelie. But I have a mad crush on Isabelle Huppert as well.
French food: Crepes. Definitely. And the hot chocolate at Angelina. Yum. Oh, and ice cream from this little place on Ile St. Louis called Berthillon.
Favorite spot: I have two! I love the cemeteries in Paris, especially Pere Lachaise, and the big flea market on the outskirts of town. I want to go back!


***

We want more A to Z!

The Distance from A to Z has hit the shelves today and those of us who were lucky to read it beforehand love this book. And.. we want more!

Natalie Blitt is going to give us all exactly what we want and all we have to do is post reviews on Amazon (as well as anywhere else but for the number to count towards this particular goal, it must be posted on Amazon). 

Here are the extras options:
  • If The Distance from A to Z gets 30 reviews on Amazon, Natalie will release a deleted scene on her website
  • If The Distance from A to Z gets 50 reviews on Amazon, Natalie will write a short scene that takes place within six months of the last scene of A to Z and post it on her website.
  • If The Distance from A to Z gets 100 reviews on Amazon, Natalie will write a real epilogue that... doesn't take place in the United States.
Help us spread the word and share this on social media with the hashtag #MoreAtoZ! And post those reviews!

Order your copy of The Distance from A to Z today!

3 comments:

  1. I'm so happy you loved The Distance from A to Z! My pre-order is on my Kindle today and I CANNOT WAIT. I'm very excited to read it, just based on what it's about and how much YOU loved it!

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  2. I didn't realize this book had so much to do with France. Insta-order! And ahh Amelie! I love that film so much<3

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  3. Now i'm thus content an individual adored The space from your to be able to Z .! My own pre-order will be about my own Kindle nowadays and also My partner and i CAN NOT HOLD OUT. Now i'm extremely thrilled to learn that, merely according to just what it really is concerning and also simply how much AN INDIVIDUAL adored that!

    ReplyDelete