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Stalker Girl Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 5, 2010

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Editorial Reviews Review

Author Q&A with Rosemary Graham

Q: What was your inspiration for writing Stalker Girl? Did it start with the concept of stalking, with the character of Carly, or with something else?

A: It started with a half-realized scene of an unhappy teenage girl sitting in a café watching and marveling at another teen girl who, from the outside, seems perfect. Like many writers, I’m a big people watcher and I often find imagine my way into other people’s lives. Some time ago I realized that when I’m happy, I tend to invent sad stories for strangers. I focus in on things that seem to indicate trouble. The girl who keeps checking her phone is desperately hoping to hear back from the boy who’s drifting away. But when I’m sad, I imagine that everyone else is happy. The girl obsessively checking her phone is excited because she and her fabulous boyfriend have backstage passes for a Vampire Weekend show that night and she needs to know when he’s picking her up. Looking back, I think it’s interesting that both Carly and Taylor were present in my initial half-realized scene. Brian, the boy they both love, was nowhere to be seen.

Q: You structured this book in a unique way, opening with Carly stalking Taylor, then “rewinding” six months to Carly’s relationship with Brian. Why did you choose to set up the narrative in this manner?

A: When people use the phrase “Stalker Girl,” they often also use an adjective like “crazy” or “creepy” or “pathetic.” As if to say only the saddest specimens of humanity would stoop so low. I wanted to show how—under the right circumstances—anyone can make bad, stupid choices. The section of the book that goes back and shows how Carly became a Stalker Girl starts out by declaring “She wasn’t always like this.” Once upon a time, Carly was just like any other seventeen year-old. She had friends, a good family. Then, little by little, she started to lose the things that made her feel secure. She doesn’t realize it, but all the little losses take a toll.

Q: In the digital age, it’s relatively easy to use the internet to find out information about old friends, former boyfriends, or—as in Carly’s case—ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriends. At what point do you think the line is crossed from harmless snooping to dangerous talking? What advice would you give teens who worry they have crossed that line?

A: I do think technology makes it more tempting—and possible—to stalk others. Teens today say that a little Facebook stalking after a breakup is “normal.” I think the point to watch out for is when your behavior interferes with your life. If you’re losing sleep or study time or neglecting your friends because you’re so busy tracking your ex (or maybe it’s someone you believe is in your future) then you’re in trouble. I say tell someone the truth about what you’re doing. True, trust-worthy friends help us avoid self-destruction. “Friends don’t let friends . . .” is brilliant because it’s true. Of course, you have to know that you can trust the person you’re going to share your secret with. If you’re not entirely sure you can trust a friend to keep your secret, tell a counselor or teacher or some other adult you trust.

Q: You create two twists in the traditional stalking scenario: (1) your stalker is a girl, and (2) she isn’t stalking her own ex-boyfriend, she’s stalking his new girlfriend. Why did you make these choices?

A: One of my favorite reviews of Stalker Girl, from the online music magazine Caught in the Carousel, says it’s a story about “how we always seem to be chasing the parts of ourselves that we think are missing.” That’s what Taylor represents to Carly—the girl she wishes she could be.

Q: What is your writing process like? Do you write early in the morning, late at night, every day or just certain days? Do you have a critique group or friends or colleagues who give you feedback?

A: Ideally, I write for two or three hours in the morning before I do the work associated with my day job as an English professor. On days when I am able to write, I must first do two things: drink one big strong coffee and swim. And I must not, under any circumstances, check email or go online or try to prepare my classes. If I do any of that, if I concern myself with the world outside my head, it’s very hard to get back to the one that only exists inside my head. I often “run away from home” to write. I get an inexpensive hotel room (in a hotel that has a pool) and write for three three-hour shifts a day with breaks for meals and swimming. These retreats are wonderfully productive for me. And my husband and daughter enjoy some father-daughter time.

I do have a writing group, and I credit the women in it for helping me finish Stalker Girl. I had given up on the manuscript after two failed attempts.—I was not in a group when I wrote those. When I was invited to join this small group of novelists, I asked the members to read the most recent failed version and tell me the honest truth. Was it worth finishing? I was fully prepared to put it aside. Lots of writers have a novel (or two) “in the drawer,” the one that didn’t work out. But my writing group gave me an emphatic “yes!” and cheered me to completion.

Q: Music plays a role in this book since Carly’s ex-boyfriend is a musician. Did you listen to any particular songs or albums for inspiration as you were writing this book?

A: Somewhere in the notes for Stalker Girl I scribbled “more like VW.” I meant “Vampire Weekend” whose music I love for its sound and its stories. Brian’s band—Ernestine is Everywhere—is my attempt to create a band that’s as smart and funny as those guys from Columbia. But I don’t listen to music as I write. If anything, I listen to “white noise,” recordings of waves crashing or birds tweeting.

Q: While this book clearly isn’t autobiographical, are there any elements you borrowed from your own experiences?

A: Ummm. I do very much relate to Carly. I grew up outside New York City in the Connecticut suburbs. My parents were divorced, and my father lived in Manhattan. I based the way Carly sees and feels about Taylor on how I saw and felt about the New York girls I’d see when I went into The City to see my father. They all seemed perfect to me. They had great clothes, great hair and a way of carrying themselves that seemed so—for lack of a better word—cool. Even the way Manhattan girls walked and talked seemed different and better from how I did.

Q: Do you have a sense of what happens to Carly, Brian, and Taylor after the book ends? Or when the book ends, do you mentally leave the characters where they are on the last page?

A: I haven’t thought too specifically about Brian and Taylor but I do imagine that they go on being the (mostly) happy people that they are. Taylor isn’t perfect and as Carly eventually sees, there’s some pain in her life. Maybe more on the way. I think Ernestine is Everywhere (Brian’s band) might continue to enjoy moderate success. Though I don’t think they’ll become stars.

Carly will be okay and to borrow from another great story-telling musician, Bruce Springsteen, “someday [she’ll] look back on this and it will all seem funny.” But that’ll take a while.

From School Library Journal

Grade 8–10—When Carly's mother ends her relationship with her boyfriend, Carly is given two options for the summer: either go live temporarily with her father and stepmother in Ohio, or take a job at Stony Hollow, an exclusive sleepaway camp at which her mother is the Interim Director. Opting to take the camp position, Carly finds that she desperately misses city life and is unnerved by ordinary sounds in the woods, but soon falls in love with Brian, her fellow kitchen worker and a talented musician. Summer camp comes to an end all too quickly, and Carly finds herself back at her expensive Manhattan all-girls prep school, while Brian rents an apartment in Brooklyn. Greater exposure and praise of his band lead to an increase in female fans, heightening Carly's insecurity and resulting in an irrevocable split in the relationship. When Taylor, Brian's new girlfriend, arrives on the scene, Carly's obsession and stalker tendencies go beyond the pale, leading to unintended and fateful consequences. The action feels a bit flat and moves slowly, although the tempo increases in the last third of the story. Several scenes show promise, insight, and excitement; the tension between the rich Manhattan second-home owners ("Citiots") and year-round residents is believable, while Carly's interrogation by a defense attorney is fast-paced. However, readers never fully empathize with or understand her actions. Although the ending is somewhat tidy and perhaps not redemptive enough, there is hope that Carly has learned her lesson.—Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA
(c) Copyright 2011.  Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile; 1 edition (August 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670063037
  • ASIN: B005M4P33S
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,382,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sara VINE VOICE on August 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I almost passed on Rosemary Graham's STALKER GIRL. I couldn't help but think it might be just a bit too creepy.. a bit too weird... for my tastes. When I browse contemporary YA titles, I generally look for topics and characters I can identify with, and, when I think of words to describe myself, stalker typically doesn't come to mind. Then I stumbled upon the book trailer and it somehow lodged itself in my mind; I decided to give STALKER GIRL a try. It took only a handful of pages to completely draw me in and I was shocked at what I found.

It turns out, I identified with Carly more than I ever could have imagined. In an interview with the author, I read that STALKER GIRL was originally titled SHE WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS. While I love the straightforward final title and its ability to lure potential readers into browsing the description, I prefer this first incarnation. Like STALKER GIRL, it draws me in, but it also transforms Carly into a more relatable character right from the start. Yes, the main character is a stalker, but she wasn't always like this. Of course, the reader discovers this as the novel progresses, but, at least in my case, I think I would have been more apt to pick it up right from the start with this title... I would have wanted to know why she had changed.

Understandably, there's a stigma surrounding the word "stalker." For me, stalkers just are. There is no before or reason to their creepy, unacceptable behavior. In some cases, like Carly's, there is a before. And it's a before that I feel many can relate to. It begins as innocent curiosity. Your serious relationship has ended, perhaps abruptly, and that person you've shared so much with has moved on. What does she have that's so appealing? Why her and not you?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Davis on August 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Intelligently written, deeply insightful, compelling: I read Rosemary Graham's latest book in two sittings. Carly is an anguished and sympathetic protagonist, and her descent into obsession with her ex's new girlfriend is highly believable. This is a terrific new take on the subject of teen break-ups. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Juliet on August 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Different is interesting; we all take a second look at what we're not expecting to see. Crazy can be even more interesting; most of us don't own up to all the crazy we've done. Rosemary Graham's newest novel, Stalker Girl, is an honest and sympathetic portrayal of Carly, a girl who is not too different from you or me, and how it is that she winds up going a little, well, crazy. What is most successful about this book is how Graham is able to show just how normal and happy Carly's life once was. As things get taken away from Carly piece by piece--as her family disintegrates, her friendships dissolve, and finally, her boyfriend breaks up with her--readers begin to feel the desperate sense of loss Carly is feeling, and we can understand why she does what she does. And she does a lot.

This book is a must-read for anyone who has been dumped, who has waited outside their ex's class hoping for just a glimpse, or who wants to read something enthralling and a little different, a little crazy. Stalker Girl will be loved by adolescent girls and grown women alike. Great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lauren on August 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I've been wanting to read Stalker Girl for a while now. Since the premise sounded interesting and intense, I've read Rosemary Graham's previous and fabulous novel Thou Shalt Not Dump the Skater Dude a couple of years ago, and after seeing the book trailer for this, I was even more excited. So the minute this landed in my hands, I dived right in, eager to find out what my final verdict on this story would be.

Thankfully, Stalker Girl provided mostly everything I hoped it would be. What's that, per say? Well, a unique, interesting, and provocative look into what happens when one girl goes too far when it comes to her and her former boyfriend's girlfriend.

When Stalker Girl opens up, you get hurled into the day when Carly first makes the mistake of stalking Taylor, Carly's ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend, leaving Carly to come off as character I thought was a complete nut-job. And in some ways she was. She went way too far as you'll see if you read this book than most normal girl's would go if they were in the same situation. Though, you also got to see a different side of Carly in part two when Rosemary shows the ups and downs of Carly and Brian's relationship. The side that showed Carly in a new light where she were her actions became, to some extent, explainable. Since she was a girl who was facing a lot, and because of that she just wanted to be loved and wanted; leaving that to be were Brain fit in. He was meant to be her hero, I guess you would say, but it turned out he was far from being able to filling the part of Carly that was missing.

This all left me to somewhat understand Carly by the end, but I was still far from liking her.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Woodard on September 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Let me start by saying, that I was excited for Stalker Girl, since I heard about it. I knew that I would either love this book or I would hate it. Luckily I wasn't disappointed and could actually relate to Carly. I mean I have been curious about what an ex-boyfriend was up to and glanced at their facebook once or twice, but I have never went as far Carly did. Carly was vunerable, because she though that she loved Brian. Sadly he didn't feel the same way. I also love that Graham flashed back to Carly and Brian's relationships, and told you how it happened. The plot was exciting and kept on surprising me. Also, it is one of the most original books that I have read in a while. It is not often that you read about a book that is based on stalking. Also, Graham surprised me with this book. I have never read any other of her books, but I plan to. Stalker Girl is about first love and how quickly it can be twisted by jealousy and fear. I recommend this book to fans of contempary fiction.
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