DOG-EARED: Jenny Han

By Mishal Cazmi

Jenny Han is kind of awesome. She works part-time as a librarian on the Upper West Side in New York City, likes My So-Called Life and therefore worships at the altar of Jordan Catalano (“Jordan Catalano was my one true heart’s desire. I, too, loved the way he leaned”), and has her own Tumblr. She also just published the final book in her highly addictive Summer trilogy, We’ll Always Have Summer. In it, 18-year-old Isabel (Belly) Conklin faces the ultimate teenage dilemma—Jeremy or Conrad? When you think about it, having two brothers fawn over you might not be such terrible situation, at any age. But for Belly who has loved both brothers with equal fervour, it’s the worst.

Writing YA novels means Jenny misses some temporal (and pretty sweet) joys about being a teenager too, namely her metabolism. “Why didn’t I wear a bikini every day? I looked great!” she says. So her advice is this: “Girls, you look great. Wear a bikini every chance you get, because seriously, you look awesome. You are not too fat or too thin or too anything. I promise you.” What she doesn’t miss? How everything was so amplified. “When I was failing Algebra 2, I seriously felt like my world was ending, but it wasn’t nor will it be the worst thing that ever happened to me. It just felt like it at the time. But I survived!”

The girls at Hardly devoured the final book in a day and spoke to Jenny Han about Cassandra Mortmain, Claudia Kishi, Tina Fey and more.

Favourite book as a teenager: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.
Favourite literary hero or heroine: This is a tie between Cassandra from I Capture the Castle and Pippi Longstocking from, well, Pippi Longstocking.
A book that made you laugh: Bossypants by Tina Fey.
A book that made you cry: Any children’s book involving a dog dying—including but not limited to Where the Red Fern Grows, Stone Fox, Sounder, etcetc!
The book you’d take with you on a deserted island: Could I please bring all seven Harry Potters? I really need to reread them before the final movie comes out in July…
A book that changed your outlook on life (and why):The Baby-sitters Club because it proved that Asian girls could be cool. Every girl I knew wanted to be Claudia Kishi! Of course, I got to claim her because I was the only Asian in my crew.
A book you wish you’d writtenTo Kill a Mockingbird because it is the perfect book.

How did you feel finishing the last book in the Summer trilogy? It felt cathartic. It felt sad, it felt like good bye. But it also felt like the beginning of something else. I always imagine my characters living on in the little world I’ve created. Kind of like dolls in your dollhouse coming to life when you’re fast asleep.
We hear there’s a script in the works for a film adaptation of the Summer books. Which actress can you see playing Belly on the big screen? Chloe Moretz, because she is a doll!

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