Skylar Evans and her BFF Chris have a pact: no dating in high school. Love only ties you down, and the last thing Skylar wants is to get stuck in Creek View, a town that’s full of hard drinkers and minimum wage jobs. If she can just get through a summer of working at the kitschy Paradise Motel, she’ll be on her way to art school in San Francisco. But when her mom loses her job, Skylar’s dream starts to feel more and more unattainable.
And then Josh Mitchell shows up. He got out of Creek View by joining the Marines, but he’s back after losing a leg in Afghanistan. As Skylar and Josh work together at the Paradise, she realizes that he’s not the same guy he used to be. Is she falling for him, and will her feelings keep her from her dream? By mixing Skylar’s voice with short chapters from Josh’s point of view, Heather Demetrios paints a vivid portrait of what it’s like to grow up in a small, poor town. She also delves into a military man’s return to civilian life, a topic that isn’t discussed much in YA. Through Josh, she explores what it’s really like to be a young soldier and deal with PTSD. I’ll Meet You There is a beautiful book that is full of a lot of hope, but it also isn’t afraid to show the raw, ugly details of a young Marine grappling with physical and psychological injuries.
I was thrilled when Heather agreed to answer a few questions for HelloGiggles. We talked about high school, writing, and the research she did to make sure she got all the details of Josh’s life just right. Check out her interview below and be sure to buy I’ll Meet You There on February 3rd!
Q: Can you tell us what you were like back in high school? Were you anything like any of your characters?
A: I was a drama geek, so I was always doing something with the school plays—theatre was my life. We’d all hang out in the drama room at lunch, so my friends and I lived in this protected bubble filled with show tunes, everyone hamming it up. We were probably obnoxious, I don’t know.
I was also really serious about school because I desperately wanted to escape the small town we’d moved to from LA and college seemed to be my ticket out of Dodge. I loved AP Comp and did student council and stuff like that. I listened to lots of Radiohead and wrote in my journal and worked at a cookie place in the mall. I was part of my youth group, which gave me the chance to live in the Ukraine for a summer and travel to other countries, and I had a boyfriend in college.
I was most like Skylar in I’ll Meet You There in that I was an artist who longed to live in a cultured, cosmopolitan city. I was sad a lot like her, too, because I came from a broken home and family stuff was so, so messy and complicated. But I had amazing friends who had my back all the time and they kept my spirits up.