The summer of 2014 was an extremely… important and defining summer for me.
It was the summer I interned at Random House in their children’s division, for one thing. It was the summer I fully realized that book publishing and being a children’s book editor was what I really wanted to do (not that I didn’t already know, but I hadn’t worked at a real publishing company before). It was the summer that I became more independent, in more ways than one. I’m not sure if I’ll ever stop relishing that summer, and reflecting on it (result: this post).
At Random House, one of the editors that I worked with was in the process of publishing a book by a new Young Adult author, Nicola Yoon, called Everything, Everything. The editor was so excited about this book, because it was expected to rise to the popularity of The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor & Park, and because it was fresh, original, touching, and really well-written. The editor who had taken on this book entrusted me in reading it about 8 months before it was published, so that I could offer my opinion on it, and so they could see what a REAL TRENDY TEEN (aka me) thought about it. So I got to read Everything, Everything as an unpublished manuscript, binder clipped together, with side notes, highlighted sentences, dog-eared pages and all. It was almost finished, the editor had told me. She just had some final things to tie up.
The fact that the editor had given me this manuscript before it was finished was so cool. It was like a secret– I knew something the rest of the world didn’t, and I would get to see how great it was and know how great it was before everyone else would be able to. That, in itself, was very special to me.
I devoured Everything, Everything. I read that book on my own time, in less than a day.
Because of my internship, I was also able to read All the Bright Places a few months before it was published. Reviews had also compared it to The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor & Park, and the author, Jennifer Niven, also new to the YA genre, is a social media superstar as well as a ridiculously talented writer. I got to keep and take home my own bound galley copy. I read it on the train to and from work, and I fell in love with Finch and Violet as characters and as people. I found my own bright place within All the Bright Places. That book gave me hope within myself, inspired me as a writer, a sister, and a friend, and gave me a new perspective on mental illness and how to deal with it.
And again, when I was reading this bound galley copy, I felt like I held a secret in my hands. I had in my possession books that would touch people, make them feel like someone out there understood them, that would help them when they were feeling just as isolated as Maddy, as depressed as Finn, and as hopeless as Violet. I had in my possession two things that were going to be great.
I’m a little late on this bandwagon, but I just received the hardcover, bound, Barnes & Noble versions of these two books in the mail. They’re not my secret anymore– they’re for the rest of the world to read and enjoy.
Finally owning Everything, Everything and All the Bright Places makes me so proud of these books, these authors and my experience interning at Random House. Taking something so raw and turning it into something real for other people to read is really cool. And getting to be a part of helping to make that happen, even if my contribution was minimal, is still an amazing feeling.