The inspiration behind EVERYONE WANTS TO KNOW, a guest post by Kelly Loy Gilbert
In my latest book, EVERYONE WANTS TO KNOW, “the Lo family sticks together. That’s what Honor has been told her whole life while growing up in the glare of the public eye on Lo and Behold, the reality show about her, her four siblings, and their parents.
“Their show may be off the air, but the Lo family members still live in the spotlight as influencers churning out podcasts, bestselling books, and brand partnerships. So when Honor’s father announces that he’s moving out of their northern California home to rent an apartment in Brooklyn, Honor’s personal upset becomes the internet’s trending B-list celebrity trainwreck—threatening the aspirational image the Los’ brand (and livelihood) depends on.” [From the publisher.]
I was writing this book during the Covid lockdown, at home with my three small children, and–solidarity to parents everywhere–we were watching way too much screen time, and I had eventually given up on trying to steer my kids into the more educational or Cosmic-Yoga-esque options. For a while they were watching these videos from this one influencer family whose child was one of the top earning YouTubers of all time, and I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would be like to grow up with such a visible presence (and no laws protecting your work schedule/finances, unlike for, say, child actors). I used to read a lot of bloggers who wrote extensively about their families, and back in the earlier 2000s it seemed so much more appealing to me, in the way things always do before the ramifications of the technology become louder. But now as many of the children I used to read about are now adults with their own lives, I wonder what they think about the ways they were presented to such a large and often hostile audience, and I wanted to write a book that examined growing up with so much of your life being consumed by strangers, largely without your input or consent. Teens today have unprecedented access to social media; anyone can become an influencer, can present themselves to millions of strangers on the internet, and I wanted to explore what that can look like. Who are you when so much of your life is about image? When do you get to be you?
Maybe too, at home during Covid with so much of our lives and interactions shifting online, my children in virtual school and doing Zoom playdates, I was trying to write into a more hopeful future: a time when we’d be back together in person, when you could live daily life with a little less fear. Honor and her messy, complicated family were born out of that strange era: a time when so many of us were interacting with the outside world almost entirely via screens, all these 2-D versions of ourselves.
And at the same time, as I was in early stages of this book, news articles were swirling around censorship on different fronts–medical professionals were being silenced and their work hidden from the public; states were passing laws to ban discussion of diversity and racism in classrooms; LGBTQI books were being removed from school libraries at an alarming rate. One of the themes I find myself returning to over and over in my stories for young people is: what narrative are the adults around you trying to tell you? What do they want you to believe; what’s their investment in those beliefs? What are they trying to stop you from knowing? What would be threatened by your knowledge? I found myself thinking more deeply about this as I was writing. In this case–as is the case with most young readers–Honor’s family has brought her up to believe in a certain way of life, a certain way of doing things and existing in the world–but what happens if she challenges everything she’s been taught? When do you have to be willing to just blow it all up?
Our young people are facing a coordinated, relentless attack on their rights to read and to information about race and about sexuality is dangerous for them to know, or they are being gaslit into thinking those things barely exist to begin with. From high levels of government and authority, and from loved and trusted adults, they are being messaged to that they cannot be entrusted with information or truth themselves, and they should unquestioningly accept the narratives most convenient to those in power. I think teens are often inherently both curious and skeptical, more aware than they’re given credit for, and Honor’s story is about seeking the truths your parents might–for myriad reasons–try to conceal from you.
Meet the author
Kelly Loy Gilbert is the author of four books for young people, including PICTURE US IN THE LIGHT, which was a Stonewall Award Honor Book, the winner of the California Book Award, and an LA Times Book Prize finalist; and CONVICTION, which was a Morris Award Honor Book.
Social media links:
@kellyloygilbert on Twitter
About Everyone Wants to Know
This ripped-from-the-tabloids young adult drama by the critically acclaimed author Kelly Loy Gilbert about a girl’s famous-for-being-famous family fracturing from within as their dirty laundry gets exposed.
The Lo family sticks together. That’s what Honor has been told her whole life while growing up in the glare of the public eye on Lo and Behold, the reality show about her, her four siblings, and their parents.
Their show may be off the air, but the Lo family members still live in the spotlight as influencers churning out podcasts, bestselling books, and brand partnerships. So when Honor’s father announces that he’s moving out of their northern California home to rent an apartment in Brooklyn, Honor’s personal upset becomes the internet’s trending B-list celebrity trainwreck—threatening the aspirational image the Los’ brand (and livelihood) depends on.
After one of her best friends leaks their private conversation to a gossip site, bruised and betrayed Honor pours all her energy into reuniting her family. With her parents 3,000 miles apart, her siblings torn into factions, and all of them under claustrophobic public scrutiny, this is easier said than done. Just when Honor feels at her lowest, a guarded yet vulnerable boy named Caden comes into her life and makes her want something beyond the tight Lo inner circle for the first time. But is it fair to open her heart to someone new when the people she loves are teetering on the edge of ruin?
As increasingly terrible secrets come to light about the people Honor thought she knew best in the world, she’s forced to choose between loyalty to her family and fighting for the life she wants.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 06/13/2023
Age Range: 12 – 18 Years
Filed under: Guest Post
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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