Today we're celebrating Jennifer Wolf Kam, one of the Unreliable Narrators, class of July 2007 and her new novel Devin Rhodes is Dead, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) Book of the Year!
Devin Rhodes is dead. It's my fault.
High school freshman Cass is conflicted about her love/hate relationship with her best friend, Devin, and about her death. How did Devin’s body end up at the bottom of Woodacre Ravine? Was Cass really responsible? Is concealing the truth haunting Cass or is it the ghost-like spirit of her dead friend?
Devin is looking forward to Sophomore year and being in “real high school.” Cass liked ninth grade and being separate from the upper classmen and all the things that come with “real high school.” Cass wonders if she and Devin have much in common any more and whether they are still best friends. Feelings of jealousy, wanting to be independent, and the urge to push boundaries drive a wedge between the two friends. After Devin’s death, Cass feels responsible. She knows the truth—or she thinks she does—and holding it back from Devin’s mother, from the police, from herself, is creating terrible anxiety for her. And it doesn’t help that she thinks Devin is haunting her.
Told in alternating before-and-after chapters, Cass details life leading up to the mysterious events that led to Devin’s “wrongful death.” The turbulent adolescent changes that challenge Cass and Devin’s friendship will seem familiar and real to middle-grade and young-adult readers. The mystery about what happened to Devin and if she is really reaching out from beyond the grave will have readers on the edge of their seats.
Hi, Jennifer! Who were your advisors at VCFA?
Margaret Bechard, Marion Dane Bauer, Tim Wynne-Jones and Ellen Howard. How lucky am I?
What do you wish you had known before you first set foot on the VCFA campus?
I wish I had known how cold it gets in Vermont in January! I might've packed some flannel jammies. But seriously, I wish I'd known that I'd make life-long friends and find my way into a community of wonderful and like-minded souls. I would've signed up sooner.
What nugget of craft advice has been most helpful to you?
To write from inside my character, which seems obvious, but actually, to me, wasn't. When you write from inside your character, using all of your senses, your reader experiences your story's world through that character. It creates an intense bond between your reader and character that entices the reader to go along on your character's journey.
What was your favorite character to write and why?
I really enjoyed creating Marcus. Actually, I had a literary crush on him.
Do you write in silence?
Ummm...silence? What's that?
If not, what's your soundtrack?
"Mom, I'm hungry!" "Mom, I can't find my cleats!" "Mom, I spilled!" But in my head it's The Foo Fighters and Stevie Nicks.
What was it like when you sold this book?
I was in shock. I didn't tell anyone for a week. Really. I was afraid if I said it out loud fate might change her mind. But then I danced. =)
Thanks for dropping by, Jennifer! Devin Rhodes Is Dead was published by Mackinac Island Press/Charlesbridge and is available at bookstores NOW!
You can find out more at Jennifer's website- http://www.Jenniferwolfkam.com
Check out a review at https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/jennifer-wolf-kam/devin-rhodes-is-dead
And pick up a Readers Discussion Guide at: http://jenniferwolfkam.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Kam-CCSS_Guide_for_Devin_Rhodes_v3-1.pdf