A triumphant story of friendship from two girls who seem worlds apart.
When Abigail’s dreams of becoming a pom pom girl are dashed, she finds herself in the unlikely situation of having to choose between her two best friends and the school’s biggest outcast.
Abigail and her two best friends, Alli and Cami, (aka AlliCam) are poised for a long life of pom poms and popularity. But for Abigail, her own insecurities and lack of confidence coupled with her bad luck at being assigned to a different homeroom than AlliCam make for a rough start to sixth grade. Abigail uses her list writing to calm herself down and keep her anxiety at bay. Even worse, her language arts teacher assigns Abigail to be friendly letter partners with Gabby Marco—the biggest outcast at Crestdale Heights. Being partners with Gabby is something that could ruin a person’s life.
When she doesn’t make the team, Abigail’s dreams are crushed in an instant, and, in the days that follow, she loses touch with AlliCam as they begin spending their time practicing and hanging out with the other girls on the squad. But through her letters and interactions with Gabby, Abigail discovers that she has more in common with the least popular girl in school than she thought. Bullied by other students at school, Abigail is the only one who knows how badly Gabby needs a friend, but will she find the courage to do what she knows is right?
Amie: Welcome Nancy! It’s great to have you back at MUF! The last time you were here we talked about your first book, This Journal Belongs to Ratchet (which my daughter loved, btw). How was writing/publishing your second book different than your first?
Nancy: Actually ALWAYS, ABIGAIL was written before THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHET. My agent Holly Root and I submitted it to several publishers. We were getting lots of great feedback about the book (then called SIXTH GRADE LISTS AND LETTERS AND LOTS LOTS MORE), but we weren’t able to find its perfect home. We then began sending out RATCHET and were able to sign it with Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky and soon after, Sourcebooks also acquired ABIGAIL.
Amie: I love stories like that! Somehow it gives me hope for all the unpublished manuscripts I’ve written. Both of your books are MG. Do you think you’ll venture out to YA or even PB? Or is your heart and solidarity to MG?
Nancy: My heart is very close to MG. I love reading MG. I love writing MG. It’s definitely my comfort zone. That said, in my early endeavors at writing children’s books, I wrote several picture books. Though none have been published, I believe that writing experience taught me a lot. Picture book writing has to be VERY tight – every word has to pack a punch because you have to tell your story in so few words. Writing those books helped me practice making my writing precise and powerful. I hope that at some point I’m able to go back and resurrect one or two of those manuscripts and someday have a picture book published as well. As for YA, not to sound too much like a middle schooler with low self-esteem, but I’m not sure I’m cool enough to write for that audience. YA is so edgy and gritty and honest in such a raw way. For me that sounds like jumping into shark infested waters. Not sure I could muster that kind of courage. That said, I do have an idea in my works-in-progress file for a YA book, but we’ll have to see if I am ever brave enough to jump off that cliff.
Amie: *laughs* I totally get where you’re coming from! Tell us a little about your inspiration for Always, Abigail.
Nancy: The character of Abigail and her long-time desire to be a pom pom girl was where the book began for me. And then, the idea for the format came. I asked myself, “Could I tell an entire story through lists and letters?” A lot of middle schoolers, especially girls, like to jot their thoughts down in different ways. Telling Abigail’s story this way really gets readers inside her life (her thoughts and her experiences), and writing the book this way made it very creative and fun for me as the author. I enjoyed the process of figuring out how to tell a story in such a unique format.
The story of Abigail is close to my heart because I was a lot like Abigail. I almost always knew the right thing to do, but I often had a difficult time choosing to do it, especially when something big was at stake. I think lots of young people struggle with this. We talk to students all the time about bullying, and I think that’s good, but sometimes we forget that “knowing” what to do is not the same as having the courage to do it. We also forget how much courage that takes and how much is at stake for young people faced with these kinds of situations.
Amie: One last question. NYC or Virginia horse country?
Nancy: Definitely NYC – I love the Broadway musicals and the fantastic Italian restaurants. A dinner of crunchy Italian bread and pasta with sauce so good I want to lick the bowl followed by a musical to which I know all the lyrics by heart is just about as good as it gets.
Amie: Thanks for joining us again Nancy! Best of luck to you with Always, Abigail!
Nancy J. Cavanaugh is the award-winning author of This Journal Belongs to Ratchet, the Gold Medal Winner for the Florida State Book Awards. She has a B.S. in education and an MA in curriculum and instruction with multiple published works. She was a teacher for more than fifteen years and currently works as a Library Media Specialist at an elementary school near Tarpon Springs, FL. Website Twitter Facebook Goodreads Buy Links:Amazon | B&N | BAM | iBooks | IndieBound | !ndigo
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Amie Borst is the co-author of Cinderskella. Her second book, Little Dead Riding Hood, releases October 14th, 2014! Find her at her blog, facebook, and twitter.