Welcome to my stop on the TBR and Beyond Tours Book Tour for Follow Your Arrow by Jessica Verdi. I was so excited and honoured when I was picked to do an interview with Jessica Verdi! Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to see the tour schedule for other content creators.
Thank you to Jessica Verdi and Scholastic Press for providing me with an ARC for this review
Jessica Verdi is an author of books for kids and teens about identity, family, acceptance, and love.
Though she’s always been a bookworm (her childhood was basically defined by the philosophy that working your way through giant stacks of library books is far superior to playing outside), she remained convinced throughout high school and college that theatre and music were meant to be her creative outlets. After nearly ten years in the NYC theatre world, she got an idea for a novel. While that first attempt at a “book” will never see the light of day—nope, don’t ask—it was the book that started her love affair with writing. Now she can’t imagine doing anything else.
Jess received her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School and is a freelance editor of romance and women’s fiction. She lives in New York with her family.
About The Book
Title: Follow Your Arrow
Author: Jessica Verdi
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publishing Date: March 2, 2021
Page Length: 320
Age Range: YA
For fans of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, this is a riveting and irresistible take on love, life, and identity — both online and off.
CeCe Ross is kind of a big deal. She and her girlfriend, Silvie, are social media influencers with zillions of fans and followers, known for their cute outfits and being #relationshipgoals.
So when Silvie breaks up with her, CeCe is devastated. She’s lost her first love, and now she can’t help but wonder if she’ll lose her followers as well.
Things get even messier when CeCe meets Josh, a new boy in town who is very much Not Online. CeCe isn’t surprised to be falling for a guy; she’s always known she’s bi. And Josh is sweet and smart and has excellent taste in donuts… but he has no idea that CeCe is internet-famous. And CeCe sort of wants to keep it that way.
But when CeCe’s secrets catch up to her, she finds herself in the middle of an online storm, where she’ll have to confront the blurriness of public vs. private life, and figure out what it really means to speak her truth.
Rep: Bi, Pan, Lesbian (along with side characters that do not get identified on page)
This is my first book I’ve read where there is such a huge social media element, and let me just say it speaks the truth lol. The amount of anxiety talked about that is directly linked to social media and feeling the need to be constantly on, and constantly posting – yeah let’s just say those feelings…
But I think that’s the beauty of Verdi’s writing, it’s extremely believable and realistic. I can picture these girls like they are real people. I loved Cece, and very much related to her anxiety with social media, but at the same time she felt self-centered (for a lack of a better term at the moment) at the beginning of the story. I loved that she matured and had a clear growth by the end of the story. She grew independent and realized that she can’t isolate part of herself because of how she worried social media would react. I also feel like that is very realistic to how many teenagers (and adults for that matter) feel when it comes to social media – present what you think people want to see and not your whole self.
I loved seeing the different types of friendships CeCe had and how she copes with each one differently. I loved who Silvie became by the end of the book – the discoveries we had of her as CeCe discovered them. I loved Josh! OMG that boy is beyond sweet and understanding.
Follow Your Arrow was a fun, cute read that managed to tackle harder topics – social media anxiety and internet addiction. I really enjoyed it and I plan to read anything that Verdi writes in the future. I think this would be a perfect read for the spring/summer time (for those mood readers out there).
Songs Mentioned in Follow Your Arrow
There were a lot of songs mentioned in Follow Your Arrow by Jessica Verdi, but I wanted to share the two I fell in love with!
Follow Your Arrow by Kacey Musgraves is beyond adorable and is super fun! I can see why Jessica included it in her book!
Why did I only learn about this song now?!?!?!?!? I absolutely love it! I have a feeling CeCe and I would have similar tastes if she listens to a lot of this style of music!
Interview with Jessica Verdi
Thank you Jessica for taking the time to answer my questions!
What 3 words would you use to describe Follow Your Arrow?
Love. Internet. Identity.
What inspired you to write a book involving social media?
There were many reasons why the social media setting made sense for this story, but one of the main ones is that CeCe is a person who (like many people in the world today!) gets personal validation from the approval of her fans and followers. At the same time, she’s experiencing internal biases about her bisexuality, and confronting the question of whether dating a guy makes her any less queer. So when that same judgment is amplified and reflected back at her from her fanbase, things get really challenging for her, both in her own head and out in the world.
I love the names CeCe and Silvie – what made you pick those names?
Thank you! The names weren’t inspired by anyone in particular, but I tend to go through a lot of names for my characters before landing on ones that “feel” right—that fit their personality in some way. When I tried out CeCe (short for Cecilia) and Silvie (short for Silvia), the characters felt suddenly more real.
Without spoiling anything, what was the hardest scene to write?
Probably the breakup scene in the beginning of the book. It took several drafts to get it right, with lots of crying on my part because CeCe just loves Silvie so much!
Were there any interesting facts that you found while researching for this book that didn’t end up being used?
I learned a LOT about Instagram influencers while researching. Did you know that some popular influencers make around $250,000 for ONE sponsored post?!
I see you’ve written a children’s picture book, I’m Not a Girl. Did you find the writing experience different from writing in YA? If so, how?
Writing I’m Not a Girl with my co-author Maddox Lyons was such a wonderful experience, but yes, a picture book is a much different beast than a novel. One of the main differences is the economy of language required for a picture book—it’s almost like poetry. Also, the words and pictures work in tandem, so you have to be sure not to repeat things with the words that are already being depicted with the illustrations.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? Any specific advice for aspiring authors in the LGBTQIA+ community?
Write the story that is important to you, and don’t worry about what you think the “market” will want. There’s no way to predict any of that, anyway, as publishing is so subjective, and trends change so quickly. Instead, write about what you care about, in a way that only you can, and that passion will shine through to readers.
If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I would have written more stories! I was an avid reader as a kid, but I didn’t start writing fiction of my own until I was in my twenties. I’ve learned so much about writing and storytelling since then, and ideally I would have started earlier. But it’s also okay, because my experiences in my pre-writing life led me to this point, in a winding sort of way. ☺
Kait Plus Books – Interview, Review, Favourite Quotes, Mood Board, Top 5 Reasons to Read Follow Your Arrow, & 15 Reactions While Reading Follow Your Arrow
Whispering Pages – Review
Dusts of Magic – Mood Board & Book Look