Girls*Heart* Books: 'Embracing You, Embracing Me' by Michelle Bellon: Review, Author Interview & Giveaway

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

'Embracing You, Embracing Me' by Michelle Bellon: Review, Author Interview & Giveaway

Young Adult novel begins in a 90s Trailer Park, and hits hard. In a decade when image matters, when the so-called Generation X is swelling with 'future perfect' hopes and pride, 16-year-old Roshell McRady dances her way through High School, never quite admitting that she's ashamed of her trailer park family home. Meanwhile she listens to Madonna while conjuring creative Top Ramen recipes to feed her younger cousins; she empties enough hairspray until her bangs are feathered and vertical like a lethal weapon; and she agonises over how to convince Gabriel Harrison, the new Mystery Guy in town, to invite her to the prom - a night which threatens to turn into a disaster. But then life takes a dramatic turn for Roshell, and her life changes forever. A love story emerges from the anguish of Roshell's life, and when she leaves school and finds work at a casino, things don't get any less complicated for her - until one night a powerful dream marks out the exact path that she must take. Embracing You, Embracing Me has young adult humour and nineties-style cultural aspirations, but surprises with some hard-hitting moments that give the book a keen edge. (from Goodreads)

Embracing You, Embracing Me is Michelle Bellon's first novel. It features a strong and vivacious young woman named Roshell, following her journey into adulthood. It tackles some difficult subject matter and manages to still be funny and hopeful. I was hooked from the start. 

Roshell is the type of person who takes whatever life throws at her and tries to adapt the best she can. Even when she was stepping foolishly into situations fraught with danger, I found myself cheering her on in my head. Her determination to make her future brighter than her past is just one of many things I admired about her. But my favorite character in the book, hands down, was Gabriel. He was just good; in and out, in all the ways that count. He always acted with kindness and honesty and was intelligent in ways most teenage boys are not. He was the best part of this book for me. 

I love Roshell's friends; they are always there for her regardless of how much time passes or what happens in their lives.  Her two best friends, Sabrina and Amber,  are perfect bookends for Roshell's character. The three balance each other wonderfully and it was a lot of fun to watch their lives progress intertwined.  I really loved seeing Roshell through her friends eyes, too. It showed the impact her actions had on them and gave the story more depth as well. 

Embracing You, Embracing Me is a poignant tale about self discovery and acceptance. Emotionally taxing, I found myself laughing and crying at the same time in some places. Roshell faces down her demons and learns about love and loss all while learning who she really is. I really enjoyed this book. 
My Rating: 

And now, here is my interview with Michelle Bellon! 

*Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I live in Washington with my husband, Pablo, and our four children. I graduated from nursing school in 2005 but found myself in the home again when we welcomed our fourth child into the world. At that point, I sat down and started writing this book, so that my mind wouldn’t turn to mush. Since then, I’ve written five novels and I’m working on a sixth.

My day job is the constant work of being an engaged mother, and as all mothers know, there is never a dull moment when surrounded by kids all day. My kids and our home is my ultimate priority and we try to make everyday fun and interesting. I could go on and on about my duties there, but most already get it. Since I also home school one of my children it adds a whole other layer of responsibility. So honestly my writing happens whenever I can find the time, which is usually late at night while they are sleeping. I’m really grateful for my husband’s support while I try this adventure.

*Is Roshell based on a real person or is she completely made up?
Roshell and this story are works of fiction, but there is a lot in the plot that came from actual experiences of my own. I did know a wonderful young man in my teen years, named Gabriel, who touched my life in much the same way. Many of the other characters are based on friendships that I still have to this day.

*Is ‘Embracing You, Embracing Me’ autobiographical in any way?
This is the most asked question that I get. As I said before, Roshell and I are very similar. I used my own childhood and desires and fears to create the character. It was the first novel that I ever wrote, and I figured the best thing to do for my first attempt at writing a book was to write something that came from the heart. They say, to “write what you know”, so that’s what I did.

*Is there a message you’d like to give your readers?
With this story, I really wanted to convey the concept that those we love, who pass on, never really leave us, but continue to impact our lives forever. Also, I included passages from the perspectives of Roshell’s friends so that the reader could experience how Roshell’s actions were impacting those around her. That is after all, Roshell’s life lesson; learning to live consciously and understand how her behaviors and how she treats people, affect others as well as her own future.

*What has been the best book you’ve read so far this year?
I just finished reading The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson and was blown away by his writing. It’s one of those books that a writer can read and feel inspired by as the quality of prose is so fantastic and gripping, you can’t stop thinking about it after you put it down. Reading such an amazing novel like that, can really get the creative juices flowing and make you want to step up your game with your own work.

*Can you tell us what’s next for you?
I’m not exactly sure. I have two finished manuscripts; a romance/suspense and a literary, just sitting here collecting dust because I’ve been so busy just trying to promote my current novels. I’m nearly half-way done with a women’s fiction. I guess I’m hanging on to see what happens with the books I already have out. The one thing I’ve learned about this industry is that it’s one thing to write a book. It’s an entirely different thing to promote and market the book so that it finds its way into the reader’s hands. It’s very tough.

*Again, thank you SO much!
Thank you! I have enjoyed this very much and I always appreciate the opportunity to talk with readers and other writers. I’m so glad that you enjoyed the novel and I hope your followers do as well!

To find more info on my other books you can visit michellebellon.com

And now for the giveaway! Be sure to complete all mandatory tasks, also winners will have 24 hours to claim their prizes before they are forfeited! 

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  1. Okay this is digging deep and personal but I was most influenced by my mother but not in the way most people would have liked to be. She influenced me in a way that with whatever her choices were I knew I would grow up and choose the opposite. She taught me all the wrong so I grew up knowing I didn't have to have a life like that and I choose right every time!

  2. My mother and my oldest sister, Brandy. She is like a 2nd mother to me. (12 years older than me)

  3. Who was the most influential person in your teen years?

    My mother when I was growing up, once I was in high school my older sister took on that role more.

  4. I don't know why this question is so hard to answer. I honestly think my parents were very influential in my teen years, but especially my mother. Influential doesn't mean it was a GOOD influence. Don't get me wrong, my mom is not a bad person, but I think the way she raised me, she could've been a bit less over-protective and maybe I wouldn't be the way I am right now and it's too late to break from it.


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