Happy Wednesday and welcome to my stop on the The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones blog tour!! I am so excited to be a part of this tour, and I’m even more excited for you to discover Daven’s favorite 1950’s slang! Plus, follow the rest of the tour and enter to win a print copy of The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones!
The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven McQueen
Published by Penguin on May 5, 2020
Genres: YA, Historical Fiction
Unsuspecting boy. Big-hearted girl. Small-minded town. Invincible summer.
Summer, 1955. Calls for equality are sweeping America, but sixteen-year-old Ethan Harper is about to discover just how deep the roots of racism run. When mixed-race Ethan is sent to stay with his white uncle and aunt in Ellison, Alabama, he soon discovers that the only thing smaller than the town itself are the minds of its inhabitants.
Except for Juniper Jones - resident artist, oddball and self-proclaimed free spirit. Ignoring the tide of prejudice and disapproval that follows Ethan, Juniper enlists him as her sidekick in her quest for an unforgettable summer. Armed with two bikes and an unlimited supply of root beer floats, the pair set out to find their place in a town that's set on rejecting them. Along the way, they will find hope, friendship - and maybe something more . . .
What was your favorite bit of research you ended up not using?
When I was writing the first draft of this book almost six years ago, I went deep into researching the aesthetics of the 1950s. I had notes of the different outfits people wore, what had and hadn’t been invented yet (for example: no suitcases with wheels!), and common architectural styles. My favorite, though, was researching 1950s slang.
I had a planning notebook that I filled with character and setting descriptions, plot outlines, etc., and I had eight pages dedicated to slang. I tried really hard in my first draft to weave in these phrases wherever I could, thinking it would make the book more authentic even if it was really silly.
Some of them worked out, like “no sweat,” “nowheresville,” and “let’s split.” Others, not so much. I had Noah O’Neil call Juniper a “fream,” or someone who doesn’t fit in; Ethan asked Juniper if she has “jets,” or smarts; and Juniper told Ethan to “tear ass,” or go very fast, on his bike during one of their adventures. A lot of these words meant nothing to most people (including me), and made the story feel less real and more like I was just trying to signal at every turn that the book was set in the 50s – which, to be fair, I was.
That said, it was fun to learn the slang and I really found some gems. My favorites include:
- Ankle-biter – a child
- Fat city – a great thing or place
- Made in the shade – success guaranteed
- Paper shaker – a cheerleader
- Wet rag – someone who’s just no fun
I see no world in which I ever say any of these out loud or use them in a future piece of writing. But 17-year-old me was really committed to the vision and I respect it.