After receiving a full-ride scholarship to Mills College for Girls, it appears Sarah’s future is all laid out before her that is until she walks into a poetry class led by Mr. Haddings, a student teacher from the nearby University of Washington. Suddenly, life on the UW campus seems very appealing, and Sarah finds herself using her poetry journal to subtly declare her feelings for Haddings. Convinced Mr. Haddings is flirting back, she sets off for school in the rain with a poem in her back pocket one that will declare her feelings once and for all.
Mr. Haddings has noticed Sarah’s attention; the fallout from any perceived relationship with a student is too great a risk, and he has decided to end all speculation that morning.
But everything changes when Mr. Haddings feels a thud on his front bumper when he glances away from the road, and finds Sarah in the street with blood pooling beneath her.
About Lorie Ann Grover
Lorie Ann Grover is a young adult novelist and board book author. She has received starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist and was a 2003 Washington State Book Award Finalist. Her works have been further honored by VOYA, Bank Street College, the New York Public Library, Parents Magazine, and Girls Life magazine.
Lorie Ann is also the co-founder of the literacy social media project, readergirlz, the recipient of the National Book Foundation’s Innovations in Reading, as well as readertotz, a blog in celebration of board books.
Hit is inspired by a true story. Would you be able to give us some background on the real Sarah and your inspiration?
Absolutely! Sarah is my daughter’s best friend. Her mother is one of my besties. In 2004, Sarah was walking to school in the Seattle-area’s drizzling rain. A driver looked away from the road and ended up striking Sarah. Urgent brain surgery was needed while we all waited to see if she would recover, and if so, in what capacity. It was a nightmare!
Poetry is an integral part of Hit’s narrative. Have you always read and written prose?
I love to read poetry! I’ve always written, especially haikus, even from childhood, just as a way to download life. My first three novels: Loose Threads, On Pointe, and Hold Me Tight are verse novels, which is a form between poetry and prose. I wrote Hit in prose following my effort in my last novel, Firstborn, which was nominated for the Kirkus Prize. It was fun to include poetry within the prose of Hit.
Instead of chapters, you have the story divided by time of day over a short period of time. How is this important to the pacing of the story?
To me, the short bits race the pace forward. My aim was to match the speed of this event. I wanted to mimic the feel of time speeding through the trial, page by page. It’s a fast-paced read, as if you, too, are being struck and flying through the air.
Was it difficult to write the traumatic series of events from two points of view?
It was only difficult to relive Sarah’s trauma. To remember the fright and pain. It was more of a puzzle to imagine and plot Haddings’ response and reactions. It was a journey in understanding and sympathy to write of him. As Mark realizes in the story, I hope we all recognize we could be the driver one day. And we remain compassionate.
Without giving away any spoilers, the ending leaves off on a bit of a cliffhanger. Did you intentionally shy away from the typical “happily ever after” that is prevalent in this genre?
I am realizing I often write with an open-end. I enjoy leaving room for the reader to finish the story according to his/her experience and worldview. So yes, I suppose I did it intentionally. Just a note: Firstborn ends on an even steeper cliff…
What do you want readers to take away from this story?
Oooo. Great question. I hope they come to view their trials as an opportunity to find sweet red seeds of goodness. Always there is good in the midst of the pain. You just have to look for it. When it’s most hard to endure and search, the seeds are often the sweetest.
And I hope everyone checks out #redthumbreminder! Steve Babcock’s simple, yet innovative solution to text safety is awesome. Embraced across the country, men and women are painting one thumbnail red to remind themselves not to text while driving. It worked for Steve, and he was able to break the habit. It can certainly work for us. I hope we stop texting while driving, stop reading texts while driving, and stop handling our phones behind the wheel.
What are you working on next?
Several projects! I’m waiting to hear whether a story set in South Korea in the 80’s places. My memoir is about to be shopped, and I’ve begun Secondborn to follow Firstborn. It’s a wonderfully busy time!
Thank you to Lorie Ann for stopping by and sharing about your new young adult novel, Hit.