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Stephanie Parent, Reader and Writer

Stephanie Parent is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC and attended the Baltimore School for the Arts as a piano major. She moved to Los Angeles because of Francesca Lia Block's WEETZIE BAT books, which might give you some idea of how much books mean to her. She also loves dogs, books about dogs, and sugary coffee drinks both hot and cold.


Visited - Janine Caldwell Visited is a sweet, engaging, feel-good read that I really enjoyed. It has a Freaky Friday-type premise, where the main character finds herself in a strangely altered version of her life, and I always love those “what-if” types of books. I thought Janine Caldwell did a great job with the premise, and I raced through this book and finished with a huge smile on my face.At the beginning of Visited, main character and narrator Joanna is your typical angsty teen: she’s convinced that being tall makes her a “freak” among her classmates, she resents her new stepfather’s intrusion into her life and her mom’s pregnancy, and she secretly pines to becomes more-than-friends with her longtime best friend Tommy. Yes, Joanna initially comes off a little selfish and whiny, but that’s intentional and realistic, and I actually liked her right away. I identified with her insecurities about her appearance (although I’m definitely not tall!) and I appreciated that she’s not the typical YA heroine—her best friend has always been a guy, and she’s more interested in volleyball and sci-fi novels and TV shows than in, say, shopping.And then, of course, there’s the Freaky Friday-ish element: near the beginning of the book, Joanna falls off her roof and is rescued by a mysterious stranger who, she soon learns, comes from someplace other than Earth. Even more bizarre, though, is the way her life seems to have changed when she wakes up in the hospital after her accident: suddenly she’s short, and her relationships with her mother and best friend are very different. Things are finally the way she’s always wanted them…but of course there are new complications that she’s never considered. And then there’s the stranger, James, who’s suddenly enrolled in Joanna’s high school and inserted himself into her life…I was relieved that the situation with James and Joanna didn’t turn into the typical paranormal creature/teenage girl lovefest, and Joanna’s friendship/romance with Tommy didn’t take the clichéd route either. But what I enjoyed most of all was the way Joanna’s changed life gave her new insight and compassion for her mother’s situation. When Joanna felt true empathy for her mother, we could really see her growing up. I also liked Joanna’s relationship with James, although I wish we’d gotten to know her and see them interact a little more. Finally, I loved the evocative desert setting and the author’s smooth, easy writing style that drew me right into the story. Visited does have a bit of a religious message at the end which I wasn’t expecting—although looking back at the blurb, I probably should have. I’m not religious and it didn’t bother me at all, I just thought it was an enjoyable, sweet read. But it is something you might want to be aware of before reading. Overall, I loved Joanna’s story and I’m eager to read more from this author!