Thursday, March 17, 2011
The Attitude Girl, Mila Bernadkin, Review and Interview
Everyone thinks Vicky has an attitude problem, but in her eyes, she's simply being realistic and honest about what she thinks and feels. If people can't handle it, well... it's their problem.
The novel recounts a young woman's coming of age, with a little bit of sassiness and a lot of heart. Jam-packed with emotional conflict, trials and tribulations, romance and humor, this winner of 8 literary awards follows outspoken, materialistic 17-year-old Victoria Benson on her rocky road to adulthood as she struggles with financial setbacks, bullying, first love, idealism, loss and forgiveness along the way.
Raising children has never been easy... And guiding them through adolescence in our tumultuous modern world? Maddening! Today's teens want entertainment! What they need, however, is a little bit of guidance, especially given the challenges of the current US economy. Written for young adults, ages 15 and up, and their parents, The Attitude Girl is an inspirational, award-winning timely book that gives them both...
Selected as the Best Young Adult Novel of the Year by the 2010 Premier Book Awards, The Attitude Girl also placed as a Finalist of the 2010 National Indie Excellence Awards, was named a First-place Winner in the Young Adult/Teenage category at the 2009 London Book Festival and in the Arizona Authors Association Annual Literary Awards contest (Novels), and additionally received four Honorable Mentions in 2009/2010 literary competitions.
Well I could relate to Vicky. As a person who speaks their mind, sometimes to my own detriment, I can surely empathize with a teen who adults think have an attitude problem.
This book is touchingly real and up-front about the issues that confront teen girls today, and it will resonate with all of us who remembers our high school years.
Mila, let’s start with your inspiration for The Attitude Girl, how long were the characters rumbling around in your head before you put them on paper?
I started the book when I was a student at the Institute of Children’s Literature. My assignment was to write three chapters, the beginning of the book, if I were to write one. I was inspired by my experience as an ex-teacher and the mother of an ex-teenager. I got an idea for a coming-of-age story about five teen girls, close friends. The characters were just popping up in my head. I created their personalities, imagined what they looked like, and named them. And then, I started to hear them speak. I knew what they were thinking and feeling. I lived and breathed along with them. It was like a movie playing in my head. Naturally, after the course was over, I just kept on writing. I couldn’t stop.
I think part of the reason that I loved this book so much was because of all of the real life trials and tribulations that Vicky and her friends had to go through. Was that your plan from the beginning?
I was writing a realistic contemporary story. So I tried to be as close to real life as possible. There are so many problems in the world today! My plan was to illustrate how teenagers deal with issues they have to face on the road to becoming adults such as bullying, first love, teen pregnancy, and relationships with parents. My goal was to deliver a message: life is not all black and white; it’s mostly grey, so deal with it! I wanted to make young adults and their parents understand that although it’s extremely hard to raise a child, being a teenager is not that easy, either.
Being that you are originally from Ukraine, you seemed to really have a grasp on American teens and their struggles, how did you get into their frame of mind so well?
I’ve been in the United States for many years. I watch TV and read. There are always news reports. I’ve heard stories from other parents about their kids being bullied. As I mentioned before, I infused many of my own traits into my protagonist. Some of her thoughts and questions are actually mine, and her authentic voice is often my own voice. And I’ll tell you a little secret: I’m awfully young at heart!
This book has won so many awards, which can only be attributed to your great writing, were you surprised that your first book did so well?
I’m very proud that my book won the total of 8 literary awards. Thanks! When my manuscript for The Attitude Girl won first place in the Arizona Authors Association Annual Literary Awards contest and a publishing contract with Five Star Publications as a prize, I was extremely surprised, even shocked – I couldn’t believe it! And when the novel was named a first-place winner in the Young Adult/Teenage category at the 2009 London Book Festival, I thought to myself, It must be good. They can’t be wrong twice, can they? Later, I received four Honorable Mentions in 2009/2010 literary competitions, and the book became a finalist of the 2010 National Indie Excellence Awards. And, finally, last September, The Attitude Girl was selected (I was told, unanimously) the Best Young Adult Novel of the Year at the 2010 Premier Book Awards. It’s overwhelming! But it’s a great feeling…
I didn’t feel like Vicky had such a terrible attitude problem, I could really relate to her honesty and outspokenness. Have you gotten a lot of feedback from girls who see themselves in these characters?
You are absolutely right! The problem with Vicky’s attitude is just that she doesn’t want to be or to think positive when she doesn’t feel like it. Considering Vicky’s honesty and outspokenness, it’s understandable where she’s coming from. Those are my own traits, infused into my main character. I, just like Vicky, always stand by my principals and fight for what I believe in.
Actually, I’m getting a lot of feedback from teen girls and moms. They say things like, “Finally, there’s someone who gets me!” or “It’s a book about me and many of my friends – same issues, same problems. Who doesn’t have attitude at this age? It’s like seeing myself in a mirror.” Moms identify with Vicky’s mother and start to understand young adults better. Many mothers and daughters read the novel together when they reviewed it, and they told me it was a great bonding experience. That means so much!
Is there a follow up to The Attitude Girl in the works?
I’m not planning a follow-up to The Attitude Girl. To be honest, I don’t believe in sequels – they usually are not as good as originals. But… you know… Never say never.
What new things do you have coming on the horizon?
I’ve been writing articles on parenthood and young adults. A couple of them were published in Power Women Magazine, MORE magazine, BOLD magazine, and the National Gallery of Writing. I’m a contributor to AuthorsDen.com, DivaToolBox.com and Weenc.com (Women Embracing Every New Challenge) – they publish my articles as well. I have several short stories for middle graders and young adults that need “polishing.” I started two books for kids ages 5 – 10, and I have a few ideas for books for adults that I have to develop.
Well I can't wait to see what comes next, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me!
You are very welcome, Mimi. It’s my pleasure!
For The Attitude Girl website, click here, and to click directly over to Amazon to buy it click here!