This was a very interesting psychological thriller/YA book. We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean tells the story of twins Alice and Celia, who have been ripped from their home after their grandfather passes away. They spend many years in different foster care homes, and after meeting another kid in foster care, Jason, they end up on a path to destruction.
This is one of the book that I have received from Netgalley, and I was actually expecting it to be a really scary thriller, but it turned out it was more along the lines of Shutter Island, which I thought was pretty cool. After the twins and Jason get caught setting fire to a house, the girls end up in a mental institution. Well, that doesn’t last for long, as they find a way to sneak out. When they decide they want to try and set fire to something one last time, they get caught again, and this time Jason doesn’t make it out alive. While in the mental institution, Alice is on a search for Celia, she hates her sister because she’s always making bad choices, and Alice believes that it is Celia’s fault that Jason is dead.
Inside the institution, Alice meets a new guy named Chase, who becomes her friend, despite the fact that he’s very mysterious and it’s been rumored he murdered someone. With his help, she wants to track down her sister and avenge the death of her former boyfriend, Jason.
After Chase finds out a secret about Alice, her mission may come to a halt. This is a story about finding out who you can trust, who has your back, and ultimately who you are, and how you can overcome your own demons.
I give this book 5 out of 5, it was really interesting the way that the author used diary passages from Alice’s journal she was giving in the institution to tell the story of what happened with Jason the night that he died. I believe that this is the first published novel for Emiko Jean, and I think that she did a really great job. I’m definitely interested to see what else she has up her sleeve if she decides to write any more novels in the future.
I was lucky enough to be able to contact Emiko Jean on Twitter, and she let me ask her some questions 🙂 :
Kerrie: Your book is about characters who live in a mental hospital, what was your inspiration behind that, and we’re you ever nervous about the severity of that topic?
Emiko: First, thanks so much for having me on your blog today!
The characters in WE’LL NEVER BE APART developed in conjunction with my experience working with children in foster care while I was a teacher at a low income school. The mental hospital setting followed soon after. It made sense that somewhere in Alice’s life story she would need mental health support. I was never concerned about the severity of the topic, but I was concerned about creating authentically flawed characters who were still likable (which is what I hoped I accomplished!). I was also concerned about accurately portraying the foster care system. Of course, Alice and Jason’s stories are written to an extreme – an example of the worst case scenario – but I don’t feel they stretch the bounds of realism to the point of distortion. Rather, by heightening reality, I hope I’ve revealed the kind of searing truth fiction always aspires to.
K: Is this your first novel you’ve ever written? It was a fantastic read! If this was your first I can only imagine the other stories you have in your head.
WE’LL NEVER BE APART will be my first published novel. But it isn’t the first novel I’ve ever written. The first has been permanently shelved! It’s a YA paranormal and it taught me a lot about myself as a writer. I don’t think I would have been able to write WE’LL NEVER BE APART without cutting my teeth on that first manuscript.
And yes, I have lots of other stories rolling around in my noggin. I have a whole spreadsheet of ideas!
K: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you to start writing?
E: Man, this is a tough question. I’ve always been a prolific reader and it’s so hard to choose favorites. But, there are a couple of books I find myself going back to time and again:
* Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
(I read this when I started writing and it’s helped keep me afloat).
* The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (Beautiful language, beautiful imagery, haunting subject).
* 100 Selected Poems by e.e. cummings (I love his witticisms and lyrical prose).
* The Family Book of Best Loved Poems edited by David L. George (I kind of stole this from my mom when I was little. I’ve read it to pieces).
K: What was your favorite part to write for this novel? Did you find any parts difficult to write?
E: I really loved writing the scenes between Jason, Alice and Celia, which, coincidentally, were some of the toughest to get right. The three had such a complex, multi-faceted and intense dynamic that writing their scenes was literally draining, but also quite rewarding. I really love the early diary entry in which Alice, Celia and Jason are staying at Roman’s house, and Alice folds paper lions for Jason as a way to comfort and protect him.
K: There are diary entries in the book, which explain Alice and Celia’s past. Did you have this written already, or did you write it as the story went on?
E: Originally, I had written Alice’s memories as non-chronological flashbacks. My brilliant agent made the suggestion to create a past/present timeline. I revised in accordance with this suggestion, and the book became much, much stronger. During this revision, I retooled some of the flashbacks that appeared in the earlier draft, so that they mirrored or complemented what was happening in the present timeline.
K: Do you have any strange habits while writing? Like you can only write in bed or something like that.
E: I write in lots of different places – from my bed to my couch, to the coffee shop down the street. But primarily I write at my desk. I do however like to eat hot tamales and vanilla wafers when I’m early in the drafting process! I’m not sure why, I think the sugar helps to keep me going.
K: Do you plan on sticking to YA books or do you think you will branch out to other genres?
E: YA is totally my thing – I can’t imagine writing anything else. However in my ideas spreadsheet, I do have a random middle grade book concept…
K: The characters in this book are in some seriously crazy and sometimes scary situations through out this book. When was the last time you were in an intense situation like that?
E: I think everyone has some interesting adventure stories. Mine aren’t quite as tense or dramatic as Alice’s, but they sure felt that way at the time. Years and years ago, my two girlfriends and I got stuck in Mexico when we ran out of money; my dad had to wire us funds to get home. Thanks, Dad!
K: In four words, describe yourself.
K: If you could tell fans of your book one thing, what would it be. (And it can’t be thank you).
E: I truly hope they enjoy WE’LL NEVER BE APART and find it as thrilling to read as I did to write!
Thank you so much Emiko for letting me pick your brain!