Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Blog Tour: To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer

When Marlow Devlin and Sam Bloom fell in love, they have two problems - it's a bi-coastal relationship and they both have daughters who believe they are number one in the lives of their dads. So while the first blush of romance is still strong, they decide to send their daughters to the same sleepaway camp while they travel through China by motorcycle. Their hope is that the girls will get to know and like each other, maybe even consider themselves sisters someday. Camp was supposed to be a surprise for the girls but Bett Devlin, 12 and living on the West Coast, knows her dad's email password and discovers the plot. Naturally, she emails her counterpart Avery Bloom, also 12, to inform her of the plan.

As the girls begin to exchange emails, it becomes clear that they couldn't be more different. Bett is confident, outgoing, willing to try anything. She loves animals and surfing in the Pacific Ocean. Avery is a New York City girl, quiet, shy, and cautious, really cautious and a little hypochondriacal.  She loves to read and is deathly afraid of water.

At first, Bett and Avery clearly do not like each other, but as they exchange emails, dislike turns to curiosity. Determined not to become friends, they decide not to actually speak to each other once they arrive at camp but they do continue to exchange emails. Gradually, the ice melts and the two girls not only end up as friends, but even begin to bond and think of themselves as sisters.

And just as that happens, the relationship between their dads going downhill. Now what? Can Bett and Avery maintain the closeness they have finally found, and can they teach their dads a thing or two about friendships?

To Night Owl From Dogfish is a lively novel written almost completely in emails exchanged between Avery and Bett, with occasional emails and text messages from other characters relevant to the story. It's an interesting format and in the hands of its two talented authors, one that really works. As Bett and Avery begin their correspondence, readers get an insider's look at how they go from complete strangers determined to split their dad's relationship apart and who each feel their number 1 spot in their dads life is being threatened to close friends looking forward to becoming sisters and determined to bring the dads back together again. Along the way, they both discover that despite their differences, and there are many, they also have enough things in common - they both love their dads and value family.

Using the epistolary format really lets readers see each character's actions and reactions to the different situations they find themselves in and witness their growth as young women. Interestingly, Avery and Bett seem less inhibited about revealing themselves to one another in writing than they might be if they were speaking directly to each other. And it's a great way for readers to learn everything they need to know to appreciate each character.

This is a laugh out loud novel with a cast of great characters. I loved Bett's spirited grandmother called Gaga, and Avery's mother Kristina a famous playwright whom she really doesn't know. I also really liked the fact that although Bett is African American, Avery is Jewish and their dads are gay these things are treated as just part of who they are, rather than points of conflict.

Being a former camper, I love a good camp story and this one really hit the spot. If you like the Parent Trap movies, chances are you will love To Night Owl From Dogfish.

Meet the Authors:

Holly Goldberg Sloan was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and spent her childhood living in Holland; Istanbul, Turkey; Washington, D.C.; Berkeley, California; and Eugene, Oregon. After graduating from Wellesley College and spending some time as an advertising copywriter, she began writing family feature films, including Angels in the Outfield and Made in America. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Counting by 7s and Short, among other novels.  

Meg Wolitzer was born in Brooklyn, New York, grew up in the town of Syosset, on Long Island, and sold her first novel, Sleepwalking, while a senior in college. She is the New York Times-bestselling author of numerous novels for adults, including The InterestingsThe Ten-Year NapThe Wife, and The Female Persuasion; the young adult novel Belzhar; and the middle-grade novel The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman.

Since I live in NYC like Avery, for this blog tour, I was paired with a pen pal in California, Sam at Sam May Be Reading. I sent her some questions to get to know her better, and she sent me some questions for the same reason:
1- I never became friends with anyone I didn't think I could get along with, but at camp I did become friends with people who had very different lives than mine. One example was the daughter of a UN ambassador from a South American country who led a much more exciting and glamorous life than I did. Part of the reason we became friends was because she was facing NYCs Regents Exams and needed help preparing for them. 

2- I did have a pen pal for years starting at age 10. It was really my cousin in Wales, but I didn't know her and it was years later that we finally met. We exchanged actual letters about 3 times a month. I think having a pen pal with modern technology would be very different. My Kiddo had a pen pal in Ohio beginning at age 11 and they still keep in touch by email and text, but still haven't met. I think sure a pen pal today would be so different, just the means of communicating. Kids today have email, texting, and video chat and probably more supervised than when I was young. I certainly supervised my Kiddo. 

3- I did go to camp for year once I outgrew Vacation Bible School. It was a sleepaway camp in Harriman State Park in New York State. Each year the same core group of girls returned with a few new girls. I don't remember not getting along with the other girls, in fact, more often than not we were all partners in crime - raiding the kitchen, taking out canoes when we were supposed to, things like that. There were usually 6 girls in each cabin and out of that, I am still friendly with four of them. Ironically, I sent my Kiddo to the same camp and she hated it.  
This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was sent to me by the publisher, Dial Books

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