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READ LIKE A WRITER, a teaching blog


Guest Post by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes, authors of ANYONE BUT YOU (Twisted Lit #3, Merit Press)

ANYONE BUT YOU, the third installment of our Twisted Lit series of Shakespeare retellings, is set in Chicago’s Little Italy, a neighborhood that runs along Taylor Street in the city’ Read More 

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In celebration of Thanksgiving, the annual big pig-out feast, in Canada (Oct. 14) and the U.S. (Nov. 28) I’m running a series of articles about food in young adult (YA) literature. In today’s article I’ve asked Kim Askew & Amy Helmes, co-authors of ANYONE BUT YOU (Merit Press, Jan. 18, 2014) and Suzanne Kamata, author of GADGET GIRL: THE ART OF BEING INVISIBLE (GemmaMedia, 2013) to tell you why food is important, and prevalent, in their stories. (*Ed. note: The authors wrote the articles but I edited their articles into third person.)

ANYONE BUT YOU is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet in Chicago Italian restaurants. Mmm…pizza, anyone? To get a taste of how cleverly creative Kamata plays with food and cooking utensils, here’s a quote from GADGET GIRL: “Luckily, Gadget Girl has brought along her crème brȗlée torch. She’s been planning on using it to make a surprise dessert for Chaz’s victory dinner, but she whips it out early to melt the golem.”

Warning: You might want to wear a bib in case you drool while reading.

ANYONE BUT YOU by Kim Askew & Amy Helmes

The inspiration for Askew and Helmes’ third Twisted Lit novel, ANYONE BUT YOU, was the Montague and Capulet animosity in Romeo and Juliet. Why did the families despise each other in the first place? The authors’ re-imagined saga revolves around a bitter rivalry between two family-owned Italian restaurants in Chicago, and the mystery of how their feud began. Naturally, Askew and Helmes were influenced by the ongoing debate over who makes the best Chicago deep-dish pies: Gino’s East? Giordano’s? Lou Malnati’s? Pizzeria Uno? (Uh...they’re opting not to weigh in with a verdict on that, lest any diehards out there come after them with pizza-cutters!) The star-crossed lovers, Roman and Gigi, find forbidden love against the backdrop of homemade pasta and pizza dough. Going back in time—1933, to be exact—to explore the imagined history of their families’ epic impasse gave the authors an opportunity to tell the fascinating history of pizza in America. The dish wasn’t always standard fare in the States, but like the works of Shakespeare, it’s become a classic readers would be quite reluctant to live without.

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