Welcome to my interview with author Marie Arnold and THE YEAR I FLEW AWAY – a brightly imaginative middle grade novel that will leave you in wonder and awe of a brave girl named Gabrielle.
In this magical middle-grade novel, ten-year-old Gabrielle finds out that America isn’t the perfect place she imagined when she moves from Haiti to Brooklyn. With the help of a clever witch, Gabrielle becomes the perfect American — but will she lose herself in the process? Perfect for fans of HURRICANE CHILD and FRONT DESK.
It’s 1985 and ten-year-old Gabrielle is excited to be moving from Haiti to America. Unfortunately, her parents won’t be able to join her yet and she’ll be living in a place called Brooklyn, New York, with relatives she has never met. She promises her parents that she will behave, but life proves to be difficult in the United States, from learning the language to always feeling like she doesn’t fit in to being bullied. So when a witch offers her a chance to speak English perfectly and be “American,” she makes the deal. But soon she realizes how much she has given up by trying to fit in and, along with her two new friends (one of them a talking rat), takes on the witch in an epic battle to try to reverse the spell.
Gabrielle is a funny and engaging heroine you won’t soon forget in this sweet and lyrical novel that’s perfect for fans of Hurricane Child and Front Desk.
It’s wonderful to have you here with us, Marie! So excited to share Gabrielle’s story with our readers. In five words, give us an inside view into The Year I Flew Away.
Magic. Wonder. Friendship. Home. Family.
These give me the feeling of warmth and safety, but I also something very beautiful.✨
Gabrielle is a brave girl, immigrating to America and knowing her parents won’t be able to join her for a while. Explain how this must have felt to her and give us an example of how she handled such a challenge.
Coming to America Gabby, was both excited and scared. It was hard to leave the only home she had ever known. One of the ways she handled this new challenge was by seeking out amazing adventures. She decided to make the best of it and try to find her place in this unfamiliar land.
Brave, brave girl.💗💗💗
If Gabrielle had a life quote, what would it be?
We are stronger, together!
Such an important message!
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Not letting Rocky (her bff and sidekick) take over was the hardest!
Haha! 😄 Now that’s funny. Can’t wait for readers to meet Rocky, too.
You’ve utilized the character of a magical witch in Gabrielle’s story, which I love! What other sort of magic can readers expect to find within the pages?
Thank you! There are all sorts of wonders inside this book: a talking Rat, enchanted snails, and magical water rescue!
I must read this now! So many fun magical things. I highly suspects middle grade readers will love the world you’ve created.
How do you hope Gabrielle’s experience in the book can help educate non-immigrant American middle grade readers about the challenges immigrant students face?
I am hoping that non-immigrant readers will start to see that not being from the same place doesn’t mean not having things in common: we all want and deserve kindness and friendship. Also, our differences shouldn’t be made fun of, but something to celebrate.
Do you see yourself in Gabrielle?
Yes! I was always curious how everyone else lived and what made them American.
What makes Gabrielle different?
She’s more courageous than I am. I am more pragmatic, most times.
Share one thing about the story that you’d like readers to know.
I think every reader has what it takes to be the hero of his or her own story, just like Gabby!
Right?!! This is super wise insight.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for writers today? Any advice on how to handle this?
I think the hardest thing is to find a way to drown out all the noise and just focus. There’s always something that needs doing and writing can fall to the bottom of the list. I say make time for it, no matter what. You don’t have to sit for hours, first try writing for just twenty minutes and then add to it every day.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marie Arnold was born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti and came to America at the age of seven. She grew up in Brooklyn, New York alongside her extended family. Marie enjoys creating stories full of adventure, and wonder, which center on girls of color. When she’s not writing, she’s adding to her insanely long Netflix queue and trying not to order pizza. THE YEAR I FLEW AWAY is her debut middle grade novel. She lives in Los Angeles, CA. Stay in touch with Marie on INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | FACEBOOK
Thank you for sharing your latest release with us, Marie. Middle grade readers are in for a treat once the meet Gabrielle!
THE GIVEAWAYa Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway begins today and ends on June 3rd. Winners announced via Twitter! Good luck!