How (Not) to Find a Boyfriend is my first published work of fiction. Here is what people are saying about it:
Publishers Weekly: As Nora finds a way to balance cheerleading and chess, Valentine offers a book about honoring the truth, following one’s bliss, and being oneself that avoids being saccharine or overly prescriptive.
Kirkus: This sharp-witted debut pours on the wry comedy as a brainiac girl tries to hide her intelligence so she can be popular. . . Valentine has a bright sense of humor, pitching it at those readers who can identify with Nora.
Christian Science Monitor selected How (Not) to Find a Boyfriend as one of “3 thoughtful summer reads for teens: novels aimed at teens that have substance AND can be enjoyed poolside.” The reviewer writes, “Although I'm no longer a teen, I know that my teen self would have totally sat poolside reading How (Not) To Find a Boyfriend. Allyson Valentine has a terrific ear – and eye – for readers 12 and up.”
Prior to publishing How (Not) to Find a Boyfriend, I wrote many picture books, middle grade novels and young adult novels that still bang around on my computer wondering if they will ever be allowed to leave home. I've also published nearly 30 nonfiction books for younger kids.
I'm glad I can write both fiction and nonfiction because I find them satisfying in different ways. Fiction allows for more creative license with the story and the characters and I love all that freedom. But sometimes that freedom gets a little unwieldy, and I can write for hours, days, weeks creating scenes that will never make it into the book. Nonfiction feels a little bit more controlled. There is a far greater sense of where the story is going.
The thing these two forms of writing have in common is that they both require a ton of research and I love doing research. In How (Not) to Find a Boyfriend I wrote about a bunch of things I knew little to nothing about prior to starting the book. Aside from a brief season cheering for the St. Lawrence Giants when I was in 6th grade I had no cheer experience. And I had not played chess. And I could not recall much about biology class. And I did not have a mother who was a feminist. And I did not know the taxonomic details about all of Joshie’s bugs. I spent hours and hours conducting interviews, observing cheerleaders (and football players) in action, I studied chess, I learned about bugs, I spoke to a Woman’s Studies student and read lots of feminist literature. I did a ton of research and I loved every minute of it!
I’m busily working another novel—details as soon as I’m done!
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