Here At Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books, we are forever looking forward to seeing what new books are on the publishing horizon. Today, author Kate Mallinder is talking about her debut YA book Summer of No Regrets. The book will be published in May 2019 by FireFly Press. This post is a little teaser of what you can expect as well as explaining the genre of UP LIT. Why not have a read and if this book sounds like your cup of fantasy tea then pop it on your list of books to buy or pre-order. Thanks for reading and enjoy your day.
Summer of No Regrets was first called Up Lit by my publishers. I’d heard the term before but it still came as a surprise to me. I’d been calling it feel-good fiction, which it is. So what’s the difference?
What is Up Lit anyway?
Up Lit has been in the headlines for titles such as Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine; stories with kindness at their centre. Up Lit doesn’t pull any punches however, it isn’t sickly sweet. It still deals with big issues: mental illness, loss, grief, things which have a life-altering impact on the characters. But Up Lit differs from other stories with these same themes by building in a strong sense of community. The main character (or in my case, characters) still has to be the master of their own destiny but that journey is made easier by the people around them. Up Lit doesn’t short change the issues but they are resolved in an optimistic way.
Why read Up Lit now?
There is some research that shows that when times are bad, readers look to literature for an escape. The consensus surely must be that the world isn’t in a great place; the polarised nature of national and international politics, almost institutional unkindness in the way we treat others, people being quick to get angry online, a perceived lack of community and a lack of common ground is the backdrop for these contemporary stories. Readers aren’t just looking for an escape but to be reminded that humans are capable of kindness, of including the outsider and haven’t forgotten how to empathise with others.
Why is Up Lit for teens a thing?
Despite the term not being widely used in children’s literature, there are signs that this type of fiction is rising in popularity. The reasons behind why it has taken off in adult fiction are similar for teenagers – the world is uncertain and this is compounded for teens as they are trying to find their place in it. Teens are increasingly having mental health issues, can find themselves excluded from social groups, struggle to know how to help in a world seemingly full of problems and so it wouldn’t be unexpected for teens to search out this type of fiction.
Arguably YA fiction has been tackling issues for years and often with hopeful endings, so in this respect is ahead of the term, but the difference with Up Lit is there’s a focus on the community, with friendship groups helping the character with their issue rather than the character sorting it out alone. This is where the kindness, empathy and the strength of human bonds comes in. Examples of this would be in John Green’s books, in Wonder by R J Palacio and more recently in books like Holly Bourne’s Are we all Lemmings and Snowflakes?
Up Lit: kindness at its core
When I wrote Summer of No Regrets, I didn’t set out to write ‘Up Lit’. I wanted to write characters who were strong alone but stronger together. Even though my characters deal with some pretty big life events, they get through them with the support and kindness of their
friends. I wrote it because this would be the sort of book I would want to read if I was a teenager in today’s world – not only as an escape, but as a reminder that kindness isn’t a weakness and having empathy for others isn’t something to be mocked or ridiculed.
So, Summer of No Regrets then…
Summer of No Regrets is about four 16-year-old girls – Hetal, Cam, Sasha and Nell. They are best mates and in the summer after their GCSE’s they decide to have a regret-free summer, taking risks however much it scares them. Sasha agrees to spend the holiday in Geneva, with the father she hasn’t seen for six years, but is not expecting his new girlfriend, or the boy in the cafe. Shy homebody Hetal decides to go to science camp, and discovers a new competitive spirit. After Nell lost her arm in an accident, her mother is scared to let her out of the house - so to do what she wants she will have to lie to her parents. Fostered Cam goes to look for her birth father. What will she find? As all these choices become difficult, even dangerous, they look to each other for the strength to face the future.
Why you should read my book
Most importantly, because it’s a good read! Hopefully. But also it’ll perhaps inspire you to keep using kindness to alter the world around you.
Kate lives with her husband, four children and two crazy kittens near Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire. She grew up in Solihull and went to college in Leeds. She wrote this book as part of her own ‘no regrets’ pledge along with trying to surf, which didn't go so well. If left to her own devices, she'd live on a window seat with a good book and a never-ending cup of tea.
Find Kate on twitter: @KateMallinder
On Instagram: kate.mallinder