Ava Dellaira, author of EW favorite Love Letters to the Dead, has a new book on the horizon, EW has learned exclusively. 17 Years, a young adult novel told in alternating perspectives by a mother and her daughter, each at ages 17, is planned for publication in Winter 2018 by Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers.
“The idea for 17 Years popped into my head while I was driving to an appointment a couple years ago, similar to the way the idea for Love Letters for the Dead did (maybe L.A. traffic is serving me well as a novelist!), and it instantly struck a chord in me,” Dellaira says. “I was interested in exploring the invisible inheritances that get passed between generations, which, I believe, is exceptionally relevant at the time when one is seeking to forge one’s own path and identity.”
The age in question — 17 — feels significant to Dellaira because it falls at “that pivotal moment between childhood and adulthood.” For Dellaira, “age 17 was marked by a newfound independence: “I traveled alone for the first time, left the country for the first time, and I was beginning to plan for a life outside of the family and the city I’d grown up in,” she says. “Although I was still part child, it was a moment when I began to feel the possibilities — both daunting and thrilling — of an adult life.”
But this isn’t just a journey of self-discovery. The mother-daughter link remains important. “At the same time, my relationship to my mom at that age informed my experiences in deeply essential ways,” Dellaira explains. “I find the mother-daughter relationship to be incredibly rich territory at all stages of life, but I think it comes into play in a uniquely important way at the moment one transitions out of childhood and comes to a new understanding of one’s parents as their own people, with their own pasts, sorrows, joys, beauties, and imperfections.”
Says Joy Peskin, editorial director for Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers, “Quite honestly, Ava Dellaira could write an adaptation of the phone book and I’m sure it would be lovely and amazing. I would have been excited for pretty much any book she decided to turn to after Love Letters to the Dead. But when she told me she wanted to tackle a complex mother/daughter relationship, I was beyond thrilled.
“I think every teen girl has wondered what her mother was like at her age, and in this book, we get to know both mother and daughter at age 17. And there’s love and longing and a quest and music, so while this is a completely different book from Love Letters to the Dead, I am confident that fans of the first book will adore this one, too.”
While you bide your time until 17 Years hits shelves, we recommend picking up (or re-reading) Love Letters, which comes out in paperback in September.