Monday, May 17, 2021

Alyson Gerber Interview - Taking Up Space

Photo Content from Alyson Gerber 

Alyson Gerber is the author of the critically-acclaimed, own-voices novels Braced and Focused published by Scholastic. Her third novel Taking Up Space will be in stores on May 18, 2021. She has an MFA from The New School in Writing for Children and lives in New York City with her family. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AlysonGerber.

Braced, Focused, and Taking Up Space are all Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selections. Braced received three starred reviews and has been nominated for state book awards in Oklahoma, Indiana, New Hampshire, Virginia, South Dakota, and Georgia. Focused was picked as a best book of year by The Today Show, Kirkus Reviews, and A Mighty Girl and has been nominated for state book awards in Rhode Island, Oklahoma, and Michigan. Alyson’s latest novel, Taking Up Space, based on her experience with disordered eating, will be published on May 18, 2021. Taking Up Space will help readers recognize how much they matter and see that if something negative is taking up space in their minds, even if there isn’t a name for it, they should ask for help.


Publisher : Scholastic Inc. (May 18, 2021)
Language : English
Hardcover : 272 pages
ISBN-10 : 1338186000
ISBN-13 : 978-1338186000


"This affirming novel offers a normalizing message about discussing body image and mental health." —Publishers Weekly

"[Gerber] supplies a positive representation of constructive approaches to an often misunderstood condition...Pragmatic and valuable." —Kirkus Reviews

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
Scholastic Summer 2021 Dewey Diva Picks — Shortlist

Why is storytelling so important for all of us? 
Kids live tough topics. They need to read them. So they feel seen and heard. So they can know they deserve help and love. And so their friends and the adults in their lives can be supportive. It helps adults to read tough topics from a kid's perspective so they can have compassion and empathy for kids. It’s also a way to show kids that they matter.

Greatest thing you learned at school? 
To ask for help!

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. 
When my debut novel BRACED was published, I was part of a photoshoot with Martha Hunt and Curvy Girls Scoliosis Foundation for Teen Vogue. I spent the day with girls who were being treated for scoliosis. Most scoliosis patients are young women going through puberty. It's a vulnerable and emotional time to be managing a serious medical condition. I wanted to give a voice to this experience in my book, because I had felt so ashamed and alone when I wore my back brace for all of middle school. This photoshoot was the first time I felt the impact of my work. I hadn't just given a voice to my story, but I'd spoken up for an entire community. It was the first time I felt like I could really make a difference.

Tell us your latest news. 
My first news segment for TAKING UP SPACE aired last week! I'm honored and very excited by the incredible response to TAKING UP SPACE from media outlets as well as the book community!

Can you tell us when you started TAKING UP SPACE, how that came about? 
TAKING UP SPACE is the story of a basketball player who is struggling to feel good about her body and herself. It's based on my experience overcoming struggles with body image, food, and self-worth. I'm so proud of how far I've come on this journey, and I can't wait for TAKING UP SPACE to be published. I know this book will help a lot of people.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel? 
I hope readers are engaged and excited by this story about basketball, cooking, friendship, and learning to value yourself. I hope this book is read widely by people who have struggled with body image and food and by those who haven't.

What part of Sarah did you enjoy writing the most? 
I loved writing the basketball scenes and the cooking scenes. It was fun to develop Sarah's passion for both of these interests in very different and exciting ways.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why? 
I'd love for Rachel from BRACED to meet Sarah from TAKING UP SPACE.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book? 
TAKING UP SPACE is about a character with disordered eating, which is when someone thinks about food and their body all the time, diets compulsively, and restricts and binges. Unlike an eating disorder, disordered eating is not a medical diagnosis. And it has become so common and so closely associated with health that it can be hard to understand why and how it's a problem. It's also an uncomfortable topic, because many people have been made to feel ashamed about their bodies and what they eat. I spent a lot of time talking myself out of writing this book. I even did research to show why it would be too hard to write. Ultimately that research helped me see just how big this problem disordered eating really is. Fifty percent of kids want to be thinner. Disordered eating is hurting a lot of people. And many of those people don't feel like their pain counts. I know how that feels. TAKING UP SPACE will help all readers see that they matter.

  • 1. The basketball scenes rock! Whether you love sports or not. You will be all in on the action and drama that happens on and off the court.
  • 2. This book includes a high-stakes YouTube cooking competition that Sarah enters with her crush. You don't want to miss it!
  • 3. Sarah's BFFs are so fun and real and complicated in the best way.
  • 4. Taking Up Space will help you feel less alone in your struggles with body image and food or it will help you understand what it feels like to have disordered eating.
  • 5. Taking Up Space is based on my real life experience.
  • 6. You won't be able to put this book down. You'll be so excited to find out what happens!
  • 7. This is a story about how adults aren't always right and what to do about it when they're wrong.
  • 8. Taking Up Space is going to change the way you see yourself and your problems.
  • 9. We all deserve to have a Coach Lemon and a Ms. Varna in our lives.
  • 10. Taking Up Space will make you sure that you matter, because you do. And you should know that.
What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives? 
Dream really big. Set your expectations too high. Reach for the stars. And try to believe you can meet your goal. Leave self-doubt behind.

Best date you've ever had? 
On my birthday, I try to always plan a date for myself that includes everything I like to do and also all the foods I love the most.

What is the first job you have had? 
My first job was as a camp counselor. The kids in my bunk were the same age as my readers!

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home? 
A water bed. I'm intrigued by them. And I also don't think I could fall asleep on one. But to be fair, I've never tried. Maybe I'd love it.

What was a time in your life when you were really scared? 
Just after I graduated from college, I was really lost. My undiagnosed ADHD was wreaking havoc on my life. I felt worthless. I was unhappy in my body and in my brain and in my life. I was scared that I was always going to feel that way, and I couldn't see a way out. That's when I started therapy, and I'm so glad I did. It changed everything for me.

Name one thing you miss about being a kid. 
The first day of summer vacation.

First Heartbreak? 
Growing up, I had a lot of heartbreaks. I always had big feelings! The first time it happened I was very young. Second grade. I was standing right in front of the jungle gym on the playground at recess, and my best friend at the time, who I'd confided in, told all our other friends that I didn't know how to read. I can still feel my insides shatter.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today? 
At 21, I was diagnosed with ADHD. Having information about my brain and about how I process the world changed my life, the way I see myself, and the way I see everyone else.

Sarah loves basketball more than anything. Crushing it on the court makes her feel like she matters. And it’s the only thing that helps her ignore how much it hurts when her mom forgets to feed her.

But lately Sarah can’t even play basketball right. She’s slower now and missing shots she should be able to make. Her body doesn’t feel like it’s her own anymore. She’s worried that changing herself back to how she used to be is the only way she can take control over what’s happening.

When Sarah’s crush asks her to be partners in a cooking competition, she feels pulled in a million directions. She’ll have to dig deep to stand up for what she needs at home, be honest with her best friends, and accept that she doesn’t need to change to feel good about herself.

You can purchase Taking Up Space at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ALYSON GERBER for making this giveaway possible.
3 Winners will receive a Copy of TAKING UP SPACE by Alyson Gerber.
MAY 18th TUESDAY Movies, Shows, & Books GUEST POST
MAY 19th WEDNESDAY Living in a Bookworld EXCERPT
MAY 20th THURSDAY My Fictional Oasis REVIEW
MAY 21st FRIDAY Kait Plus Books EXCERPT

MAY 24th MONDAY A Bella Fairy Tale REVIEW
MAY 26th WEDNESDAY Twirling Book Princess EXCERPT
MAY 27th THURSDAY Insane About Books REVIEW
MAY 28th FRIDAY Book Queen Reviews REVIEW & EXCERPT


Post a Comment