Liliana Faltin’s mother has a new man coming to see her. He brings a lot of need with him, a lot of need for booze, a lot of need to expose secrets about Lili’s family that she might not want exposed. And it’s not like Lili doesn’t have enough to deal with. Her truck driving father has started to wear blue nylons and has put a rainbow sticker on his little Ford Escort. Her best friend has started worrying more about being popular than being real. And her sister’s husband seems to be getting a little too handy with his fists. All this and it’s her first year of high school. So, Lili writes letters. Yeah, they’re to John Wayne, a dead movie star, but whatever. At least she knows what to expect from him.
how girl, hero came about
I think John Wayne is kind of sexy. Yeah, he’s old. Yeah, he’s dead. . . but opposites can attract, right? Plus, obviously, I have father issues and John Wayne is sort of this old-time vision of what a father is supposed to be… strong, silent, rugged, always there.
This book allowed me to watch a lot of John Wayne movies. There are a MILLION TRILLION John Wayne movies. This can affect your brain. It made me think a lot about what it is to be a hero, what it is to have true grit.
People look grittier in black and white.
So, I wanted to write a book about a girl who has had a lot of crud happen to her but still found her way to be a hero, not a super big movie hero, not an over-the-top black lycra-wearing, kick-Vampire-butt hero, but a hero to herself. I wanted to write a book about a girl who was tired of being a victim.
Lili’s life is not easy. Her mom has an alcoholic boyfriend who is just a freak. Her sister has a husband who hits her occasionally. Her dad is slowly becoming a cross-dresser. That’s a lot to deal with. But she deals with it. She takes control. I really like Lili. I like that she wants to be a hero.
“carrie jones uses the cold hard truth, raw teenage emotions, loyal friendships, and a lot of terrific humor to make this a must-read. teens will love the colorful and easy-to-relate-to characters. this is fiction that is fun and also rings true in today’s teen world.” — reading junky, teen reads too
“from the first sentence of carrie jones’s novel i could tell that here was a bright new writer who was going to set the world of young adult letters aflame.” – kathi appelt