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I love hearing the real life inspirations for stories, and, today, author Kate McGovern is revealing 5 True Things Behind Rules for 50/50 Chances.
Welcome to Love is not a triangle, Kate!
Rules for 50/50 Chances
by Kate McGovern
Date published: November 24th 2015 by
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
About the book: A heartrending but ultimately uplifting debut novel about learning to accept life's uncertainties; a perfect fit for the current trend in contemporary realistic novels that confront issues about life, death, and love.
Seventeen-year-old Rose Levenson has a decision to make: Does she want to know how she’s going to die? Because when Rose turns eighteen, she can take the test that will tell her if she carries the genetic mutation for Huntington’s disease, the degenerative condition that is slowly killing her mother. With a fifty-fifty shot at inheriting her family’s genetic curse, Rose is skeptical about pursuing anything that presumes she’ll live to be a healthy adult—including going to ballet school and the possibility of falling in love. But when she meets a boy from a similarly flawed genetic pool, and gets an audition for a dance scholarship in California, Rose begins to question her carefully-laid rules.
5 True Things Behind Rules for 50/50 Chances
by Kate McGovern
Rules for 50/50 Chances is fiction, of course, but many people have asked me how much of the book is taken from “real life.” The truth is, everything in the book is fiction, since even the things I pulled from my own life have been reimagined in Rose’s world. But there are lots of little things in the book—and some big ones—that are inspired by reality. Here are my top five:
Rose’s relationship with her parents and grandmother. Rose’s family isn’t my family. We haven’t had to live with a medical crisis anywhere near the level of Huntington’s disease, and I’m very grateful for that (knock on wood). That said, some of the details of Rose’s family are
borrowed from my own. I’m not actually an only child—I have three older
brothers (technically half brothers, but who’s counting?), but they were
already into their teens when I was born, so for a lot of my childhood, it was
just me and the ‘rents. I’m very close to my parents in the same way Rose is.
Even in the throes of teenagerdom, I always enjoyed their company. And while my
own Gram never lived with us (and wasn’t British!), I was also very attached to
her, just like Rose is.
Lena. Ever since high school, close female friendships have been really important to me. In college, I lived with six other girls. It’s been more than 15 years since we met, we’re scattered all across the country (plus one in London), and we still group-text almost daily. When we get together, usually for someone’s wedding, it’s like no time has passed at all (except we’re smarter, healthier and better dressed than we used to be!). As a character, Lena has pieces of several of my girlfriends from both high school and college. She’s fiction, but her role in Rose’s life—as a lifelong, through-thick-and-thin, truly sustaining partner-in-crime—is taken right from my own. I consider myself really, really lucky to have all these amazing women in my life.
The trains. Everyone who knows me knows I love trains. Like Rose, I got my love for trains from my mother. She took me across the country via the Southwest Chief and the Lake Shore Limited when I was seven, and I always wanted to do it again. A few years ago, I took the California Zephyr from Chicago to San Francisco by myself, just like Rose does. It was absolutely incredible. Since then, I’ve traveled from Chicago to Los Angeles, Boston to Chicago, New York to Montreal, and Boston to New York and D.C. by train. I love a couple things in particular about train travel: First of all, there is no better way to see a landscape. It’s just a different experience, much closer to the heart of things than driving. And you are forced to meet people. I’m an introvert. I don’t talk on planes. I’ll stick my headphones in and bury my nose in a book. But there’s something about a long-distance train that opens people up. You share your meals with strangers. It’s like time is suspended. It’s magical.
The setting. I grew up in Cambridge, just like Rose. Her high school is my high school (although I gave it a fictional name). Her pizza joint is my old pizza joint. The bookstore where she meets Caleb for their first date is my favorite local bookstore. (In fact, the café in the bookstore is where I wrote most of the RULES manuscript.) I’m a Cambridge girl. I love this city, and there was never any question in my mind that Rose would be a Cambridge girl too.
The interracial romance. I chose to make Rose and Caleb a mixed-race couple for a few reasons. A big one is that it’s been my own experience. I wanted Rose and Caleb to talk about race in sometimes uncomfortable ways, but also for race to not be the defining feature of their relationship. That feels realistic to me, and it’s something I think we don’t see often enough. Very often, when we see an interracial couple in YA, race is the central issue of the book. Alternately, on the other end of the spectrum, the characters might be different races but it never comes up—instead, it’s like no one notices at all. I wanted to write something in-between, because that’s what feels true to my experience. (And by the way, almost everything else about Rose and Caleb’s romance is plucked from thin air. I never had a relationship in high school—you can read more about that here. As a result, everything Rose wrestles with in that regard—falling in love at 17, hooking up in her parents’ house, having to balance her best friend with her boyfriend—is totally made up.)
About the Author
Kate McGovern has taught theatre and language arts to middle schoolers in Boston, New York, and London. A graduate of Yale and Oxford, she currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was born and raised. RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES is her first novel.
Find Kate: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Blog Tour Schedule
11/16: Dear Teen Me
11/17: Stories & Sweeties
11/18: Love is Not a Triangle
11/19: Book Addict’s Guide
11/20: Once Upon a Twilight
11/23: Fiction Fare
11/24: Teen Librarian Toolbox
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