We are so excited to be bringing you our next Middle Grade blog tour for Life in the Balance by Jen Petro-Roy! We got the opportunity to interview the author, and we hope y’all love what she has to say as much as we do. If you haven’t already, make sure you’re following our hosts and don’t forget to enter the awesome giveaway we have below!
Life in the Balance
by Jen Petro-Roy
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Releasing on February 16th, 2021
MIDDLE GRADE FICTION–Realistic
Veronica struggles to balance softball, friends, and family turmoil in this new honest and heartfelt middle grade novel by Jen Petro-Roy, Life in the Balance.
Veronica Conway has been looking forward to trying out for the All-Star softball team for years. She’s practically been playing the game since she was a baby. She should have this tryout on lock.
Except right before tryouts, Veronica’s mom announces that she’s entering rehab for alcoholism, and her dad tells her that they may not be able to afford the fees needed to be on the team.
Veronica decides to enter the town talent show in an effort to make her own money, but along the way discovers a new hobby that leads her to doubt her feelings for the game she thought she loved so much.
Is her mom the only one learning balance, or can Veronica find a way to discover what she really wants to do with her life?
Jen Petro-Roy writes “honest books with heart,” about kids who are strong, determined, unsure, struggling to fit in, bubbly, shy, and everything in between. She is the author of P.S. I MISS YOU, GOOD ENOUGH, YOU ARE ENOUGH, and LIFE IN THE BALANCE (out February 2021), all from Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends.
When she isn’t writing, Jen can be found reading, playing board games, belting out songs in the car to embarrass her two daughters, and working as an eating disorder awareness advocate.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and Life in the Balance?
I’m a writer, reader, runner, swimmer, wife, mom of two girls, lover of board games and trivia, and a current homeschooler. It’s been a busy, rough, and interesting year, and I’m so glad to start to talk to people about my new book!
Life in the Balance tells the story of Veronica Conway, who has been looking forward to trying out for the All-Star softball team for years. She’s practically been playing the game since she was a baby and her mom has always been her couch. OBVIOUSLY she’ll make the team. OBVIOUSLY it will be awesome.
Except right before tryouts, Veronica’s mom announces that she’s entering rehab for alcoholism, and her dad tells her that they may not be able to afford the fees needed to be on the team. Veronica decides to enter the town talent show in an effort to make her own money, but along the way discovers a new hobby that leads her to doubt her feelings for the game she thought she loved so much. Soon, Veronica has to learn balance right alongside her mom as she tries to discover what she really wants to do with her life.
Did the idea for this book come to you all at once or did it come in bits and pieces?
Like most of my books, the idea for this book came in bits and pieces. I usually start off with a general idea, a character who I’d like to get to know better, or a few components I’m interested in writing about that eventually somehow merge into a whole. Here, I was first interested in writing about the culture of competitive sports, how modern kids seem to be urged and pressured to focus on one sport or interest at an early age, and how as a result, so many seem to be getting burned out or injured. That concept eventually made its way into my main character Veronica, who I’d already had swimming around in my mind as a girl who was struggling with a parent in rehab. My best friend (and one of my role models as a person) is a recovering alcoholic and I really wanted to explore how the pressures that adults feel also trickle down to their kids, and how balance is so necessary in life, no matter what age you are.
Was there a certain song (or songs) that really helped drive you while writing?
Listening to music actually makes writing harder for me! For some reason, listening to the lyrics that other people created almost feels like another story to me, and having that in the background can interfere with my thought process when I’m creating my own worlds. I am used to some noise in the background, though, as with two elementary-aged kids, there’s no escaping that!
Is there a specific mantra or routine you’ve been repeating to yourself as of late?
I think it’s a mixture of “one day at a time” and “find the joy.” Writing, especially with two young kids at home whom I’m attempting to homeschool, has been more difficult than normal, and finding my creativity can sometimes be a struggle. I’m trying to be patient with myself that if I have a rough day, that’s okay, and I can open my laptop again tomorrow. And that even though it feels like these stay-at-home days all run together, it’s important to find the little moments that create joy in our lives. (Like good books, of course!)
For the characters in Life in the Balance, are there any that you pulled influences from real-life people for?
I didn’t necessarily model any characters after other real-life people exactly, but I did give some of my characters hobbies and personality traits that I “stole” from people around me. Most notably, as I mentioned, Veronica’s mother’s struggle with addiction came from my best friend, who was a high-functioning alcoholic. I also love to give characters first and last names based on people I know and love, so they can get a bit of excitement from seeing their names in my books!
Is there anything you’re currently working on, and if so, can you give us a few details about it?
There is! Yay! I’m currently editing another middle-grade contemporary about Maddie, a competitive rock climber whose workaholic, always-traveling mother returns home to be a surrogate for Maddie’s aunt. It deals with friendship drama, the complications of the mother-daughter relationship, and finding out what “being brave” actually means.
What are your biggest concerns and excitements about releasing a book during 2021?
This is such an interesting time, especially since in-person events are out of the question and people aren’t as likely to be in physical bookstores to find my book on the shelf. However, I’m taking heart and hope from all the support I’ve been receiving on social media, and how enthusiastically people are looking forward to Life in the Balance. Other authors have released books during this pandemic, and I’m confident that every book will eventually find the readers who need it. Indie bookstores have been so, so enthusiastic about reaching out to their patrons and setting up virtual events, so in a way, it’s easier to reach people across the country who I can’t “meet” in person otherwise. In the end, I have hope, as with so many other things.
Compared to your previous titles, how was writing this book different from those?
I think the main difference is that the struggles of Veronica, my main character, weren’t something that I myself had specifically struggled with. In my debut, P.S. I Miss You, Evie was dealing with questions about the religion she was raised with, something I went through myself. In Good Enough, Riley was struggling with an eating disorder, the same one I myself recovered from, as well. In Life in the Balance, while I have absolutely felt many of Veronica’s emotions about life and finding balance, her journey was a bit different than my own. I hope I brought it to life well!
Lastly, is there something specific you hope readers will pick up on while reading Life in the Balance?
My hope is that readers realize that it’s okay to follow their hearts. That no matter what they think people “expect” of them, they still need to follow their own hearts and their own passions. That speaking up and being honest is important. And that being yourself is the best thing of all.
Turn the Page Tours – Welcome Post
Up for grabs we have ONE (1) finished copy of Life in the Balance by Jen Petro-Roy! This giveaway is open to US residents only and will run from February 15th to February 22nd at 11:59 PM CST. To enter, click the button below!