Monday, August 30, 2010

FRIEND IS NOT A VERB by Dan Ehrenhaft

Okay, so we first fell in love with Dan when we were cyber-stalking him while out on submission. This is what did us over. His list of non-blurbs is genius. Genius! So it's no surprise that we absolutely loved his newest novel FRIEND IS NOT A VERB.

A bit about the book:
When your older sister disappears inexplicably, and your girlfriend dumps you, the logical answer to the craziness in your life is to become a rock star. This is the solution that Henry (Hen) comes up with. With the help of his best friend, Emma, Hen sets out to solve the mystery behind why his sister ran away—and why she has just as suddenly returned. In addition, Hen decides to take bass lessons so that he can win a spot in his ex-girlfriend’s band, and her heart. Along the way, Hen learns more than just how to play the bass, and discovers that maybe the right girl for him has been there all along. This quirky, well-crafted novel offers an appealing cast of characters and several interwoven story lines. The mystery surrounding Hen’s sister moves the story along, as does Hen’s tendency to narrate his life like a “Behind the Music” episode.

Lila's Take:
FRIEND IS NOT A VERB is one of those books where you read the last line, sigh, close the book and smile. Actually smile. I can't exactly explain why, but this book reminded me of the movie Juno. No there were no sixteen-year-old girls getting knocked up, but it had a cool retro-vibe on account of the musical references/themes and highlighted solid friendships and unexpected love. Plus, the wit and dialogue were spot on. It was really refreshing to read an actual feel-good book for YAs--it came at the perfect time and was a really nice pick-me-up. So...PICK IT UP!

Dan was generous enough to stop by and answer a few of our random questions...enjoy!

1. Tell us about your book in 140 characters or less.

Writers, turn off your laptops. This is the greatest novel of all time and as such marks the much-hyped Death of the Novel. You’re welcome.

2. Where did you get the idea for FRIEND IS NOT A VERB (as the official idea whores, we have a vested interest here.)

Okay, silliness aside... Part of the idea was born in 1995, when I was on vacation with my wife (then girlfriend) in the Dominican Republic. Half-hidden in the hills above the beach were all these strange, gorgeous, modern mansions, and we wondered who lived in them. For some reason, I thought they had to be crooks or fugitives. So the sister-and-her-friends part of the story came first. As I wrote bits and pieces of that, the story of the life the sister abandoned ended up becoming more compelling to me, because I identified with her little brother. That's when I really began to write the novel in earnest--about 3 years ago.

3. Someone has a pair of scissors to your head (oooh, SCARY!) and you have to choose: Awesome title or gorgeous book cover?

Hmm...that IS a tough one. I'd have to say an awesome title, because a cover can always be redesigned in the next printing. And a title grabs your ears, not just your eyes. In spite of all the digital revolution, books are still about words. (At least, I hope...)

4. When did you know you had to be a writer?

After I read THE WESTING GAME by Ellen Raskin. I was 10, and it blows my mind today as much as it did then. [Editorial Note: Lisa gave me this book in 6th grade and I swear it transformed me into an actual reader (I think I qualified as more of a skimmer before this life-changing event.) LOVE.]

5. Twizzlers or M&Ms?

Neither, which I realize is a major character flaw. I can't stand sweets. I have no idea why. Can I choose mini-burgers instead?
 
If you'd like the chance to win this book (and four others), don't forget to leave a comment!

40 comments:

kiri said...

How could I resist a last name meaning "honorable"? ;)
Sounds like a fun read, and I think the title would probably overrule the cover at least in bookstore browsing going just by spines!

Fi-chan (Bookish-Escape) said...

Glad I took the time to read this post, cause I super loveee his answer to the first question! Hahahahaha ;x

Sarah B. said...

Oh, sounds like a book I should read! Cute Q&A!

Michele Shaw said...

Even though his answer to number 5 looks like a foreign language, I want to read this book. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Sounds like a cute book. I used to play the bass (and dreamed of being a rock star), so that part certainly grabbed my attention. :)

Summer said...

Mmm...mini-burgers. Not so easy to eat while typing, though...

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Sounds really good!

Mia said...

I have to read any book that's written by an author who loves the Westing Game. I loved that book as a kid.

Aik said...

I'll certainly add this book to my wish list. I want it to make me smile too!

Laura Marcella said...

OMG, he can't stand sweets??? Well, that;s okay. More for me!!! Haha.

And I'd choose the amazing title, too. I'm someone who reads the title first and basis my picks on that, so I'd want my own work to have super awesome titles. And Friend is Not a Verb is definitely a title I'd pick up! Good work!

Daniel's novel sounds great! I love these interviews and finding new authors. Thanks for sharing!

Aleeza said...

I read the beginning on Amazon and even that made me smile! Can't wait to read it. Awesome interview!

salarsenッ said...

You've totally made me want this, and jealous that I didn't come up with a groovy title like that!! Yup, I used groovy, damn it.

Carolyn V. said...

I love books that make me sigh. I'll have to grab this one! =)

Yat-Yee said...

When I first visited Vail and Beaver Creek and saw these immense houses, I wondered who lived in them. And then went home. Sigh. I am glad someone came up with a story with that bit of curiosity, and a good one too, from the sounds of it.

Lisa Potts said...

Love your random questions. I'll definitely add the book to my must read list. Big thumbs up for mini-burgers!

Lola Sharp said...

Fun Q & A. :)

Great review, ladies. Very compelling.

And, I'm all for mini-burgers...and M&Ms!

E. Kristin Anderson said...

I <3 Daniel Ehrenhaft! What a great interview! If you haven't read DIRTY LAUNDRY yet, you should!


And I would love to win this book!

Elana Johnson said...

Mini burgers for the win! I'm getting this book, stat. Sounds like a great read!

JESSJORDAN said...

Love the title. At the 2009 SCBWI conference, when all the presenters were giving one word to describe themselves, Richard Peck said, "Friend ... is not a verb." So I saw this and laughed a little.

Laura Pauling said...

I love hearing about underbuzzed books! Sounds like a good one!

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds like a fabulous book! Can't wait.

I'd take the M&Ms over mini-burgers any day!

Kelly said...

This book has an intriguing premise and an awesome title!

Marsha Sigman said...

I can totally get on board with a plot about a sister disappearing.

But no sweets? That is too freaky.

However, it will not stop me from reading his book. It was a close call though!!!

Tamika: said...

After this stunning review/interview I must read this book:)

Thanks ladies and Dan!

Becky said...

Sounds like a great book:). Nice answers and I agree with the 3rd questions answer because if a book has a beautiful cover but a horrible name you're not going to want to read it, you're just going to want to hang the cover on your wall.

Linda Henderson said...

Sounds like a cute book, I'd love to read it.

Shawntelle Madison said...

I love the title of this book. If you gals keeping posting such awesome books I will never have a chance to get through my TBR pile!

Angela M. said...

It sounds refreshing for sure, but I'd like to know what kind of person can't stand chocolate???

Jessica Love said...

I loved this book! Even though he totally disses Journey (who doesn't like Journey!?!), I loved it anyway.

Llehn said...

I am totally intrigued by the premise now!

Claire Dawn said...

Following writer blogs is hazardous for my social life. TBR list ridiculously large. AAAARRRRGHHH!!!

Btw, I have giveaways on at mine this week. Mon-Wed followers only. Thursday and Friday are a free for all. Stop by. http://aclairedawn.blogspot.com

Myrna Foster said...

Thanks for the interview and recommendation!

Lori W. said...

I'd pick this off the shelves for the title alone, but add in the blog post of his that you linked to, and I'm sold. Thanks for the interview.

paulgreci said...

Your comparasion to Juno sold me. I want to read it!

Alexander Bennett (Tales of a Teenage Book Lover) said...

This one looks so sweet! I need to get my hands on it!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Awesome! I haven't seen this one yet - another to add to the list! :-)

Aik said...

The cover really intrigues me...so does the synopsis.

Lisa_Gibson said...

Okay, seriously - you can't stand sweets?! Really? *sigh* I guess it leaves more M&M's and Twizzlers for the rest of us. :) This sounds like an interesting premise. :) I'll be sure and add to my tbr pile.
Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

Lisa B. said...

Wow. I love the way the book is described. I've just added it to my Goodreads to-read shelf. *Happy sigh*

adelegriffin said...

FINAV was one of my favorite reads of 2010. the book has this offbeat, very cool plot but Henry's narrative is also like sitting next to that guy in school who has all the best jokes and asides so you spend the whole time laughing at those off-road moments. also his male and female characters are equally balanced in dimension and texture-- i am always in awe of that. DE brings a level of fun plus polish to the YA game. i might have to send him chocolates. and by chocolates, of course i mean mini-burgers.