Blog Tour: Small Town Hearts (Guest Post)

Hey all! Today we have a guest post from the author of Small Town Hearts! I hope you enjoy, and make sure to check the whole post for the rest of the blog tour and for a giveaway!

Rule #1 – Never fall for a summer boy.

Fresh out of high school, Babe Vogel should be thrilled to have the whole summer at her fingertips. She loves living in her lighthouse home in the sleepy Maine beach town of Oar’s Rest and being a barista at the Busy Bean, but she’s totally freaking out about how her life will change when her two best friends go to college in the fall. And when a reckless kiss causes all three of them to break up, she may lose them a lot sooner. On top of that, her ex-girlfriend is back in town, bringing with her a slew of memories, both good and bad.

And then there’s Levi Keller, the cute artist who’s spending all his free time at the coffee shop where she works. Levi’s from out of town, and even though Babe knows better than to fall for a tourist who will leave when summer ends, she can’t stop herself from wanting to know him. Can Babe keep her distance, or will she break the one rule she’s always had – to never fall for a summer boy?

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Lillie Vale, upon discovering she could not be one of Santa’s elves or attend Hogwarts, decided to become a writer to create a little magic of her own. Enjoying the romantic and eerie in equal measure, she’s probably always writing a book where the main characters kiss or kill. Born in Mumbai, she has lived in many U.S. states, and now resides in an Indiana college town where the corn whispers and no one has a clue that she is actually the long-lost caps lock queen. She can be reached on Twitter @LillieLabyrinth and Instagram @labyrinthspine. Small Town Hearts is her debut novel. 

Okay! Now to the fun part: a guest post from the author herself, Lillie Vale!

Hi! I’m Lillie Vale, the author of upper YA contemporary Small Town Hearts. It’s a messy BFF breakup + found family novel taking place in the summer after high school, the last summer 19yo bi baking barista Babe thinks she’ll have before her friends Penny and Chad start college in the fall. She has a somewhat co-dependent relationship with the people she loves, and change has never been a good thing, in her experience, so she’s trying to hold on tight during a time when she has to learn how to let go. Matters are further complicated when her ex-girlfriend Elodie returns to their sleepy Maine village of Oar’s Rest at the same time as Levi, a mysterious summer boy, shows up to rent Babe’s mom’s cottage on the beach.

Small Town Hearts is being marketed as YA, which makes sense because the characters are somewhere between 18 and 19, but it’s not set in high school, and the main character is well on her way to full independence (an anomaly in most YA, but home life (even a good, healthy home life!) varies from teen to teen, and that is a topic for another day, but let. me. repeat. Not all teens have the same familial experiences. In Small Town Hearts, I wanted to show a mother-daughter relationship that was more like roommates than parental. They love each other, but they also don’t have to live in each other’s pockets or see each other daily for that love to exist, to still be valid. Just like teens and their experiences can differ widely, so too can parenting styles! In this essay I will—). Many of the themes and challenges for Babe place this book as ideal for not only YA readers (especially those in their senior year of high school or recent grads), but also NA readers.

I love exploring setting, nature, and the change in seasons. Summer into fall, especially, is my favorite. But it’s not Babe’s favorite…because it means her friends will be starting college without her, and she’s freaking out about what that will mean for their friendship. If only summer could be endless, right? So when better to set the book than the last “perfect” summer before everything begins to change for her?

Many of Babe’s struggles could apply to teens and young people today. Leaving high school, friends, and family for the first time can be terrifying. Home can provide stability and comfort, and the people and places that make up what “home” means to us are major cornerstones. Many teens, whether they go to college or not, may find themselves losing their support system. How do we hold on to friendships when we’re miles apart? How do we know when to let go?

In Small Town Hearts, I wanted to zero in on a friendship that’s always had a status quo, where the characters only knew who they were as individuals insofar as who they were relative to their friends. What would happen when those characters were in a period of transition (high school to college) and that status quo was threatened? One friend is starting to pull away, so another holds on tighter. Complicated, messy friendships are my JAM. Exploring the conflict that arises when characters have differing hopes, dreams, insecurities, and fears that put them at odds with one another was a theme I found deeply compelling.

I also believe, as important as it is to show characters driven and striving toward their goals and academic success, it’s also important to spotlight characters who are content to stay where they are. To most people, traditional “success”, however they define it, usually involves a college degree. Babe, for whom remaining in the work force is not only a pragmatic choice, but the one that will allow her to work at the coffee shop she loves, The Busy Bean, is terrified of the new changes that will affect her friend group. She’s going to be the one left behind, and she has no idea how to deal. I hope readers can take away that change can also be an opportunity for growth, that friendship can be tested without breaking, and that sometimes, we may have to untangle ourselves from our comfort zone in order to become the person we’re meant to be.

And that’s a wrap! I hope you all enjoyed Lillie post as much as I did! Telling the stories of young adults who choose a less than traditional path is hugely important, and was something very formative in my life. How cool is it to hear about writing this kind of story from an author’s point of view! Thank you, Lillie! Make sure you all read the rest of this post for the rest of the tour information and a giveaway!

Tour Schedule:

March 25

That Artsy Reader Girl – Welcome Interview

March 26

Magical Reads – Book Review + Hand-lettered Favorite Quotes

The Bent Bookworm – Book Review

March 27

Wishful Endings – Author Guest Post

The Lovely Books – Book Review

The YA Obsessed – Book Review

The Inked In Book Blog – Book Review

March 28

We Live and Breathe Books – Book Review

Moonlight Rendezvous – Book Review + Favorite Quotes

The Book Thief Without Words – Book Review + Favorite Quotes

Book Rambler – Creative Bookstagram Post and Mini Review

March 29

Utopia State of Mind – Author Q&A

Metamorphoreader – Creative Post

Bookish_Kali – Book Review + Favorite Quotes

March 30

Blossoms and Bullet Journals – Creative Post

Novel Ink – Book Review + Favorite Quotes

Novelishly – Book Review

March 31

The Reading Faery – Author Q&A

The Bibliophile Confessions – Creative Post

Star Is All Booked Up – Book Review

The Phantom Paragrapher – Book Review

April 1

The Layaway Dragon – Book Review + Favorite Quotes

Maddie.TV – Author Guest Post

The Clever Reader – Book Review + Favorite Quotes


Prize: 1 Signed Finished copy of Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale (USA only)

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