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Episode 73 - Natalia Sylvester

Photo Credit: Eric Sylvester

Natalia Sylvester is no stranger to ReadMore. She's been on the show to talk about her novels, Everyone Knows You Go Home and Running, her first YA novel. She's one of my favorite guests, and now she's back to talk about her second YA novel, Breathe and Count Back from Ten, a book that's very personal to her.

It tells the story of Verónica Renteria, or Veró, a teenage girl with hip dysplasia, a disability Natalia has contended with throughout her life. It occurs when your thigh bone doesn't fit properly into your hip socket, which causes the hip bone to become partially or completely dislocated. Verónica is a rising high school senior who longs to be a mermaid at an attraction in Central Florida called Mermaid Cove. But her strict Peruvian immigrant parents are against it. They want her to focus exclusively on her studies. Working at what they see as a silly tourist attraction over the summer is not in the cards. They constantly warn her about boys and being promiscuous and are less than forthcoming about the impact of her condition and what it could mean for her future.

I loved Verónica. She's someone you will root for. Her romance with, Alex, a boy who moves into her community and has a troubled family life as well, is really sweet. Over the course of her childhood, Verónica has had to endure several surgeries to counter the effects of hip dysplasia, and her doctors recommend swimming as the best exercise for her. She becomes an excellent swimmer, which fuels her dreams of working at Mermaid Cove. Natalia also shares Veró's love of mermaids and mermaid performers. Mermaid Cove is based on a real attraction in Central Florida.

During our interview, Natalia reveals...

- What it's like to publish a book you've been dreaming of your whole life

- Why her plans to write a fun, splashy novel about mermaids didn't happen

- What she enjoyed reading as a young child and a teenager

You can listen to the episode here and help Natalia and the show by purchasing the book here.

During the show, Natalia mentioned that she didn't read books that she felt represented her until she was in high school. Reach out to us on Twitter or Facebook to reveal one of those books she read in high school that made her feel seen, and we'll send you a free copy of Breathe and Count Back from Ten.

If you've won a ReadMore giveaway in the last 90 days, you're ineligible. If we ever attended band camp together, you may be ineligible. ReadMore doesn't have a friends and family plan. But we'll always have memories of those hot summer afternoons spent learning new music and field routines.


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