We love Luanne Rice’s beautifully written prose wows us no matter if she’s writing mainstream fiction or YA. This week, she’s got a new YA out, The Beautiful Lost, about a girl struggling to deal with her mother leaving, as well as her depression. We talked with Luanne about her new book and more — and we’re giving away five copies of The Beautiful Lost, below!
Tell us about The Beautiful Lost. Why did you decide to write this book?
Maia came to me with her story, and from the very beginning I knew I was listening to a real girl, and I had to pay attention. She visited my dreams. I learned how desperately she missed her mother, how there was a hole in her life so big she either had to hit the road to find her mother or die. She had a mad crush on the boy in a group home on the top of the hill, and when he jumped into the car and said he was going with her, I knew she was in for the ride of her life.
Maia struggles with depression throughout the story. Why do you think mental health is an important topic for teens to read about?
Teens are sensitive and vulnerable, at a turning point in their lives. I had serious depression in high school, and I had no idea what it was. All I knew was I had an anchor in my heart and didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. It took an insightful teacher to guide me toward help. I would love if a teen, or a teacher or librarian, read The Beautiful Lost and had a spark of recognition—like, oh that’s me. Or I know a child with symptoms like Maia. And from there, finds help.
What are you hoping to get across to your readers when talking so specifically about Mia and Billy’s experiences with taking medications, group home living etc.?
Maia sees a psychiatrist and gets well through a combination of talk therapy and carefully prescribed medication. She doesn’t like taking meds and constantly wants to stop. That’s a real thing. Trying to manage your own medication can cause dangerous mood swings. I wanted to show a realistic experience. Billy lives in a group home because of a horrible crime between his parents. He misses his life the way it used to be, and he’s confused about the tragedy in his family. He’s torn between two sides.
Maia and Billy head out on a road trip together — what’s your dream road trip?
I’ve taken one similar to Maia and Billy’s, wound north through New England to Nova Scotia, then up to Eastern Quebec. But right now I am dreaming of a drive from Paris, through the Loire Valley and Bordeaux to the Atlantic Coast. I’d stay in Archachon and go sailing in the bay. Or…maybe I’d angle southeast from Paris to the south of France, visit the ancient, fortified village of Èze, see the magical Cocteau murals in Villefranche-sur-Mer, then drive along the Mediterranean and cross the border into Italy.
As we head into summer, what is your favorite summertime memory?
Staying at my grandmother’s cottage at Hubbard’s Point (the fictional name for my real beach area, where Billy and other characters in my books live). My two sisters and I would kick off our shoes the first day of summer and pretty much not put them back on till we returned to school. Summers were about sisters and best friends—about swimming to the big rock; crabbing in the marsh; movies on the beach where we’d dig a pit in the sand, arrange our blankets, and eat Good Humors and half-watch the movie while whispering about the boys we liked on their adjoining blankets. August made me sad because it would soon be time to leave the beach, but I also loved it because of the annual Perseid meteor shower, when shooting stars would light up the night sky. I still love it.
What are you working on now?
A novel about a girl who leaves school one day and never arrives at home.
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