Everyone should have something to rebel against.
Crank Wilson left his South Boston home at sixteen to start a punk band and burn out his rage at the world. Six years later, he’s still at odds with his father, a Boston cop, and doesn’t ever speak to his mother. The only relationship that really matters is with his younger brother, but watching out for Sean can be a full-time job. The one thing Crank wants in life is to be left the hell alone to write his music and drive his band to success.
Julia Thompson left a secret behind in Beijing that exploded into scandal in Washington, DC, threatening her father’s career and dominating her family’s life. Now, in her senior year at Harvard, she’s haunted by a voice from her past and refuses to ever lose control of her emotions again, especially when it comes to a guy.
When Julia and Crank meet at an anti-war protest in Washington in the fall of 2002, the connection between them is so powerful it threatens to tear everything apart.
“How much research did you have to do on the punk scene?
Quite a bit actually. During the years in question, I was already a parent, living a very different life than either Crank or Julia, so I spent a lot of time reading up on how the music scene in Boston developed, watching documentaries on the Punk scene, learning about new music.
Probably the most difficult part was something which ended up making it into the book, even if only as a reference… for many many years homeless teenagers, punks, hung out in what is known as the Pit in Harvard Square. In a lot of ways it was one of the safest possible places for a homeless teenager: the cops sort of had an understanding and watched out for them. But in 2001 a would-be gang moved in and tried to force the teenagers to become pickpockets. When one of the girls resisted, they raped and murdered her. It was impossible for me to write this story, with these characters where they were located, without addressing that. Absolutely heartbreaking story.
Have you ever protested a war?
I was a tank crewman during the 1991 Gulf War, which I’ve written about pretty extensively (this blog post kind of covers some of my thoughts on that: http://www.sheehanmiles.com/2012/04/25/revisiting-an-old-topic-what-does-it-feel-like-to-kill/).
It had a huge impact on who I am, my thoughts, my beliefs. In 2002 I co-founded Veterans for Common Sense, which was a group focused on a careful, reasoned response to the September 11 attacks, and which opposed an invasion of Iraq.
The setting for Julia and Crank’s first meeting isn’t really an accident: I was a speaker at that first huge protest against invading Iraq, and I chose that as the location for them. The antiwar movement isn’t in any way central to this book, but it’s part of the backdrop and timing.
How difficult has it been for you to break into the new genre of Older Young Adult?”
That’s a tough question to answer. Honestly, I never expected the kind of success Just Remember to Breathe had, and virtually all of that was a result of word of mouth. It’s really been wonderful.
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