Book Blogger Fair Guest Tara Clark YA A Butterfly in Winter

Victoria here again… To win a paper back copy of Mything You and $5 Amazon Gift card, a Rafflecopter giveaway

Makeup May Change Your Love Life (Zoastra Origins Series) by Greta Buckle is FREE on Amazon during the Fair.

Mything You (Heroes of Greece) by Greta Buckle is $.99 cents

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My next guest is a YA author, so she struggled ALOT on how to write about hot men. Plus she seems super shy. Her book has NOTHING to do with romance. It sounds awesome and as a teacher, I’d like to read this to see if I’d recommend it to one of my students. (I love writing and one day do it full time. In the meantime, working full time as a teacher is rewarding even if I don’t get paid nearly enough… meaning the bar to cross over isn’t terribly high.)

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Allison Stafford is fourteen. As if that is not enough to deal with in itself, her parents suddenly move her from her small town in Vermont to suburban Michigan, all in the middle of her freshman year of high school. For Allison, there is more to learn at her new school than just finding her way around. Soon she is attempting to make sense of her newly discovered sexuality, and wondering what it takes to fit in with the “cool” people at her school. Despite tragedy and several mistakes, Allison manages to survive. This novel leads the reader through the murky depths of high school, and reminds us all of the importance of true friendship.

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Guest Blog

The effects of peer pressure

We all know the image that comes to mind when we think of peer pressure. On an Afterschool Special, a group of kids is standing around and one of them breaks out a pack of cigarettes. The majority of the kids start to smoke, but one resists. His or her peers begin mocking him/her, until the person gives in to the pressure. It’s this idea that peer pressure is obvious and it is the desire to fit in that forces people to do what is bad for them.

Peer pressure in reality is a little more insidious, I think. It usually is not explicit, but instead exists in freeze outs, sudden changes of the group dynamic, and side comments and remarks. Teens dress a certain way because of this implicit peer pressure. At no point do the peers pressure the teen to buy clothes from a certain store; however, there is an unspoken rule that if one wants to fit in, he or she will dress the same as his/her peers.

These are just a couple of examples. With the current focus on bullying in schools, it is important to remember that the two are linked. Bullying is often just as sinister as peer pressure, especially for girls. Young girls are not necessarily beat up on the playground for lunch money. Instead, they are suddenly left out of the group for breaking some social norm, one established through overarching peer pressure.

A Butterfly in Winter is about peer pressure as it applies to girls and sex. Allison is fourteen and she has just moved from New England to the Midwest. At first, she is happy with her small group of friends and her boyfriend, but over time, she feels alone and becomes desperate to belong. Her desperation leads her to make bad choices, not only about relationships – including her friendships, but also about herself. What results is depressing and scary but all too common for teenagers. There are serious consequences for following the crowd, although they are often carried by the individual alone.

When relationships are affected by peer pressure, it can be seriously concerning. There is again an unwritten idea in high school about who should date whom. If someone tries to go against the rules, it can backfire. This results in many relationships being shaped less by actual attraction or compatibility and more by the crowd’s desire to keep people in their places. When we grow up, we look back at high school and remember all those times we were embarrassed by a crush or talked into going on a date. As adults, it seems stupid, but as teens, the respect and admiration of the group are more important than self-respect  most of the time. It is a sad fact, but it is unfortunately true. We look at teens and wish we could help them understand what we know now, but we only know it because we lived it, too.

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There is something sadly pathetic about being a fourteen-year-old girl. My own memories of early adolescence sometimes seem like they belong to someone else. Yet there are times when the heavy pain that I thought surrounded me only when I was younger manages to sneak back up. Generally, it happens when I couldn’t feel any lower. The lucid and tangible existence of adolescence still lingers in my daily life and, sometimes, the slightest remark can trigger an emotional outburst I didn’t even know still thrived inside of me.
Until I was fourteen, my life was simple. I managed to split the entire world up into either good or bad. It’s amazing how straightforward life seems until the first twinges of sexuality set in. It was always easy to tell who was a friend and who was not. Friends had the same taste in teen heartthrobs, trendy television, and pop music, slept over on Friday nights, and stood in the same corner during junior high dances. Enemies stole boyfriends. They created degrading nicknames and made sure to use them every chance they got. Enemies shot spitballs from the back of the classroom. Trust was never an issue, either because people hadn’t yet learned the art of lying, or because the secrets we shared just weren’t worth it.

When I look at pictures from my childhood, I sometimes wonder if my parents really took them or just cut them from the pages of The Saturday Evening Post. Everything looked so pleasant. I went out for ice cream with my parents on Saturday nights and, not only was I not ashamed to be seen with them, but I actually enjoyed the time we spent together. I still rode my bike around the neighborhood and went swimming in the neighbor’s pool. On hot days in July, everyone swam in that pool and the friend/enemy distinction was forgotten for a short period. Temperatures above ninety degrees brought us together.
The summer before high school started was exhilarating. We were discovering our newfound adolescent freedom at the town band concerts. Our parents encouraged us to go because they knew it was safe and it was better to let us spend time together in public than to worry about the alternative. My town was the quintessential New England town. The band concerts took place on the grassy town common in the center of Brookdale. Deliberately placed in the exact middle of the common was a white gazebo with green trim, where the band performed. I am not sure who the townsfolk thought they were kidding when they advertised “band concerts.” Brookdale’s band consisted mainly of old men, most of them World War II veterans, who rarely varied their set list, playing the most lackluster rendition of “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Perhaps this had something to do with the brass section that contained only two trombones.

Every Thursday, my friends and I gathered on the common, and relished our imagined lack of boundaries. We would kiss our boyfriends underneath the weeping willow tree, and flirt with the high school boys when our boyfriends got bored with kissing and decided to go play at the dunking booth. We sat together against the wrought iron fence, drinking juice spritzers and smoking candy cigarettes, because we thought they made us look older and more mature. We talked to each other, but never shared anything of consequence, bonding only through a mutual need to fit in somehow.

Summer delayed for us the upcoming anxiety of Freshman Year. We went to summer camp and, as we rode in canoes around the lake, we talked about boys, clothes, anything but high school. At campfires, we sang silly songs about the Zulu King, and enjoyed our last days of youth. Sleeping in platform tents, surrounded by mosquito netting, we forgot that we had to grow up, and stopped pretending, for a few days, that growing up was what we wanted. However, summer still ended, and we changed.

After a one-day orientation, we were thrown into the midst of high school. Northern Webster County High School was more than just a building. It loomed over our collective imagination with its promises of the future. Inside the brick walls, people were dating, thinking about sex, and planning parties. These things were as foreign to us as algebra. Gone were the trustworthy fractions and multiplication tables of our childhood, replaced by formulas and logarithms. Yet, still, I was looking forward to reading Shakespeare, eating in a cafeteria without teacher supervision, and attending football games, where people hid under the bleachers, smoked real cigarettes, and drank more than juice spritzers.

 

About the Author:

Tara Entwistle-Clark is a former high school English teacher who lives and breathes books. Whether reading, writing, editing, or blogging about them, she seems to always have books on her mind. She is currently working as a freelance editor, blogger, and cover designer while writing an untitled fantasy novel as well as another contemporary realistic teen novel called How Quick Bright Things. She lives in Connecticut and loves to travel.

Visit Tara online at:

http://tarasbookblog.com

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