I’m highlighting a new book for you today. The publicist was nice enough to offer up a giveaway for the book, too. There will be more on that below.
What I Want You To See by Catherine Linka
A recent survey by the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice revealed that almost one in seven college students are homeless and more than half struggle to keep a roof over their heads or get enough to eat. These students often hide their situation, attending classes, studying and working full or part-time jobs while sleeping in their cars or on a borrowed couch or floor night after night. In the face of overwhelming obstacles, many will abandon their dreams and drop out, their futures buried in debt. Catherine Linka, Los Angeles resident and award-winning author of A Girl Called Fearless and A Girl Undone, addresses this issue in her dazzling new novel, WHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE.
Sabine Reyes is a rising star at the prestigious art school in Pasadena she is attending on scholarship. There, she has the chance to get her life back on track after the devastating losses of her mother and her home. Determined to let nothing jeopardize her professional success and future financial security, she conceals her homelessness from her fellow students and the teachers. But she finds herself on shaky ground when renowned professor Collin Krell seems to take merciless delight in tearing down her best work-and warns that she’ll lose the merit-based award if she doesn’t improve.
Fortuitously, Sabine meets a charming and enigmatic grad student named Adam, who suggests she work on improving her skills by secretly copying Krell’s newest, million-dollar painting. She agrees, convinced she’ll unlock the secrets to earning her professor’s approval through a deeper understanding of his art. Sabine’s replication helps her connect with Krell, but to her shock and horror, it also makes her an unwitting party to a major art crime so cleverly plotted that not a single clue points to the real perpetrator.
The vibrant details of the contemporary art scene of Los Angeles spring off the pages, thanks to Catherine Linka’s lifelong passion for art and the year she spent in full immersion, visiting galleries, museums and exhibits to research this book. WHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE is a coming of age story meets art-forgery thriller that will arrest readers with a compelling plot, and leave them pondering larger life questions about love, loss and morality long after the last page is turned.
“Linka (A Girl Called Fearless, 2014) balances multiple plot threads with unusual grace, the crime story line, while it propels the narrative, never overwhelms Sabine’s artistic journey, the grief she’s still processing, or the difficulties she faced while homeless and the connection she feels to the homeless community now. Clear-sighted and heartbreakingly true, this is a genuine portrait of a girl in quiet crisis learning to see things as they are.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Through Sabine’s first-person narrative, interspersed with “sketches” of her previous life, Linka crafts a unique story, both a twisty thriller and an indictment of education’s high cost and the risks taken in pursuit of a dream.”
“Linka (A Girl Undone, 2015, etc.) expertly weaves a story that is both a slow-burning thriller about the world of art and a study on how a traumatized, vulnerable girl is led to commit a crime and make numerous mistakes. What it means to truly see is present as a recurring theme in terms of understanding not only art itself, but also self-expression and interaction with others and the world. Main characters are white; Sabine’s absent father is not described. An engrossing novel about art, self-expression, and making amends.”—Kirku
Additional Praise for WHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE
“A deeply satisfying novel with a high-wire ending that’s as unexpected as it is perfect. In addition to a twisting, turning plot, Sabine wrestles with thorny questions of conscience about what it means to be an artist and to make amends. With What I Want You to See, Catherine Linka delivers intrigue, betrayal, and a feast for art lovers.” —Mary McCoy, author of I, Claudia, Printz Honor Award
“Tense, smart, and engaging . . . What I Want You to See is a stunning portrait of deception, artfully peeling back layers of secrets to reveal a meticulously crafted crime.” —Elle Cosimano, author of Nearly Gone
“Meet your new favorite YA thriller. Catherine Linka’s What I Want You to See is a smart, twisting coming of age story about art and family, loss and crime, and honesty and redemption, all set in sunny Pasadena. Absolutely riveting!” —Kayla Cagan, author of Piper Perish and Art Boss
“What I Want You to See by Catherine Linka blew me away….it’s a page-turner for all the very best reasons, beautifully-written, and you care about the characters so much that when they make mistakes, you read feverishly, hoping things will turn out…Any artist teen will go crazy for this book… my favorite book I’ve read all year.” —Kim Purcell, author of Trafficked
“What I Want You to See grabbed me from the start with its compelling and complex characters and art world drama. Interwoven in the narrative, Linka also beautifully brings to light the issue of college student homelessness. As the title suggests, Sabine Reyes projects an image of herself which may not be completely honest; I thoroughly enjoyed… her messy, heartbreaking and very real journey of learning to let others see who she truly is. I highly recommend.” —Carrie Arcos, author of We Are All That’s Left
WHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE by Catherine Linka * ISBN 978-1-36802755-7 *
Price: $18.99 * On sale February 4, 2020 * Ebook ISBN 978-1-368-04403-5 * Freeform Books
Why I Wrote What I Want You to See
by Catherine Linka
I think that when we writers choose our story settings, we choose a world to inhabit. It might be an era we’re drawn to, a city that captivates us or a country of our imagination, but we select where we want to live for the next year or so as we write through drafts and revisions.
When I contemplated what to write next, I realized I wanted to live in the art world. I’d grown up painting, drawing and doing ceramics, but didn’t have the talent to go to art school. After college, I still drew, read art history, and visited art exhibits wherever I traveled. So as I began work on What I Want You to See, I immersed myself in contemporary art. I read art history, interviews with artists, and essays by sociologists, economists and critics. I wandered through LACMA, the Broad, the Getty, the Marciano, the Norton Simon, and the Hammer, soaking in the art and seeing which artists I responded to.
The more I learned, the more similarities I saw between the art world and the publishing world. To be successful, creative work needs to be “shown” on the walls of the right gallery or “published” by a major house. Artists and writers face enormous pressure and uncertainty as they compete for a few select spots. Why their work is or isn’t chosen might have little to do with their talent.
I brought those feelings to my character, Sabine, a first-year art student at CALINVA, a prestigious art school. Sabine knows she’s talented, but she’s surrounded by other talented artists hungry for the same recognition, and she’s even more desperate than they are, because she has nowhere to go and no one to turn to if she fails.
Survival is key to the stories I write, because my protagonists are trying to navigate complex worlds. They tend to be smart and resourceful, but they are also blinded at times by fears and misjudgments and incorrect assumptions. Sabine has just survived losing her mom and home, so when her scholarship seems threatened, she’s not thinking straight. A poor choice takes a terrible turn, and puts her entire future at risk.
I chose to make Sabine part of the large, yet nearly invisible population of college students experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. In the prosperous Northern California town where I grew up, the community college now hosts a mobile food bank for students and local churches provide secure parking lots for those who sleep in their cars. A growing number of people I know work to provide food and support services to students dealing with housing and food insecurity. Although I have not experienced homelessness personally, my writing was informed by the wisdom and counsel of a young woman who like Sabine created a new life and home for herself after loss.
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Catherine Linka has spent almost two decades immersed in the world of children’s and teen books, both as a veteran bookseller and now as a writer of fiction for young adults. Her first two novels, A Girl Called Fearless (St. Martin’s, 2014) and its sequel, A Girl Undone (St. Martin’s, 2015), put Linka on the map as a YA author to watch. Fearless won the Southern California Independent Booksellers Young Adult Novel Award (2014) and was selected by the American Booksellers Association for the Summer 2014 Kids Indie Next list.
Her new YA novel, WHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE, a thriller set in the world of art forgery in Southern California, will be published by Freeform on February 4, 2020.
Prior to becoming an author, Linka was an award-winning book buyer for seven years, reading hundreds of children’s and YA books, creating an author speaker series and running a teen-advisory board. She has participated in over 300 hours of critique groups, including 75 hours at Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she earned an MFA. Linka has judged writing contests, including the Tomorrow Prize and Adventures in YA Agent Challenge, and mentors aspiring novelists.
Catherine Linka often speaks at writers’ conferences, book festivals, schools and libraries. Her most recent appearances include the American Library Association Annual Conference, the Los Angeles Times Book Festival, LA Writers Conference, Ontario Teen Book Fest, and Bay Area Book Festival.
She is based in Southern California, but hikes and kayaks around the world in search of exotic animals, dramatic landscapes and the non-stop thrills she channels into her writing.
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Catherine Linka will be making the following California appearances for What I Want You to See:
695 East Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 7:00 PM
Children’s Book World (in conversation with Kayla Kagan)
10580 ½ W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles
Saturday, February 8, 2020 at 3:00 PM
Lil Book Bug
742 Lancaster Blvd., Lancaster
Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 4:00 PM
Win one copy of What I Want You To See by Catherine Linka (US only). Book offered and sent by publisher. Please make sure you are 18 or older, or have parent’s permission. I will contact the winner within 24 hours of the rafflecopter ending.