ABOUT THE BOOK:
Of Jenny and the Aliens
When boy meets girl meets alien, the angst of first love gets an extraterrestrial intervention in a tale both outrageously funny and full of heart.
Ten years after Earth sent messages out into deep space, there has been an answer. Music from a distant planet has reached the world’s radios. Are aliens about to invade? No one knows, and almost-eighteen-year-old Derek doesn’t really care, because at a wild end-of-the-world party, Jennifer Novak invited him to play beer pong, and things, well, progressed from there. Derek is in love. Deeply, hopelessly in love. He wants it all — marriage, kids, growing old on a beach in Costa Rica. For him, Jenny is the One. But Jenny has other plans, which may or may not include Derek. So Derek will try anything to win her — even soliciting advice from an alien who shows up in his hometown. This alien may just be the answer to Derek’s problem, but is Derek prepared to risk starting an interstellar war to get his girl? Just how far is he willing to travel to discover the mysteries of the universe — and the enigma of love?
AUTHOR GUEST POST!!
My name is Ryan Gebhart and I'm the author of the upper YA novel Of Jenny and the Aliens. It's about first love and first contact. About world peace and/or an interstellar war. It's full of crass humor, UFOs, and as Booklist says in a starred review: “The narrative probes the boundless nature of love and the boundaries people impose on it, and draws attention to the process of hiding from and then finding oneself.” I'm thrilled that the Fantastic Flying Book Club is hosting its book tour. Thank you so much to all involved!
Three main things and a million little other things inspired Of Jenny and the Aliens, but I'll stick with sharing just the top three:
1) Well, I saw a UFO. I was at a party in Texas and everyone was lying on blankets looking up at the night sky as this ring of spinning lights moved across the sky effortlessly, sometimes vanishing, only to reappear somewhere else in the sky five seconds later. Everyone was debating what it could be, and we settled on the possibility that this UFO was alien in nature. Then the topic transitioned into what these theoretical aliens' intentions were: do they come in peace or with hostile intentions? To me, the potential aliens on board had to be friendly. Because if they were hostile and capable of traveling to Earth, then why haven't they already killed us in an attempt to recolonize our planet for their own purposes, or to enslave humanity and/or harvest us for food? Then a thought occurred to me: maybe they're afraid of us. I knew I had expand upon that idea.
2) Uhh, (cough) I haven't had the best of luck with relationships. Although my main character Derek's story in no way directly reflects my own, I have shared many of the emotions he experiences. I guess Derek and I both grew up having some unrealistic expectations of what love is supposed to be, and how love in real life isn't always like how it's portrayed on film. Love is complicated, it can be amazing, it can suck miserably, but as Derek's dad says at one point: “...whether we like it or not, it's what keeps the human race going.” I wanted to write a love story, but I wanted to make is as messy and shocking and nauseating and as an episode of Jerry Springer. Sure, there are perfect Cinderella romances in the real world. I chose to represent the romances that turn into absolute train wrecks that, as a spectator, you just can't look away from.
3) The Iraq War. When I was first drafting the idea for Of Jenny and the Aliens, it was 2007 and I had already spent years trying to concept how we could be in another war after we had already been involved in so many other wars. When would the violence stop? I remember when I studied abroad, I had so much fun learning someone else's language, trying brand new foods, dancing brand new dances. Every culture across the globe has so much depth, so much history, so much humanity. Iraqis are no exception, so why were we fighting them when instead we could be communicating with them, learning about them, and just simply hanging out? I delved deeper into those thoughts until I asked myself: what would it take for humanity to collectively stop fighting each other? What would it take for actual world peace? These questions ate away at me so much until I thought of a plausible answer. I won't give it away, but it's cynical as hell and, yeah, it involves aliens...
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Gebhart is the author of the middle-grade novel There Will Be Bears, about which Publishers Weekly said in a starred review, “Fully developed characters, complex and realistic relationships . . . and a spot-on narrative voice . . . make this story stand out. About Of Jenny and the Aliens, the author says, “This book is about first love and discovering that we're not alone in the universe, and how maybe those two things aren't that different from each other.” Ryan Gebhart lives in Ohio.
His debut young adult Of Jenny and the Aliens, about first love and discovering that we're not alone in the universe, will be released Spring 2017 with Candlewick Press.
ABOUT THE GIVEAWAY:
• 3 copies of OF JENNY AND THE ALIENS will go to 3 winners
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