Liz & Lisa's Book Club: Things You Won't Say by Sarah Pekkanen

Things You Won't SayOur book club pick of the month is THINGS YOU WON'T SAY by Sarah Pekkanen, one of our favorite authors, who is also published by Atria. (In fact, we're lucky to be doing a joint book event with her in Chicago on June 4th! Come and see us!) Sarah's book publishes tomorrow, May 26th, just in time to throw in your carry-on or beach bag for your summer vacay! We have one copy of THINGS YOU WON'T say for giveaway. Either comment here or on the post on our Facebook page, and you'll be entered to win. Contest closes Wednesday, May 27th at 8pm PST.

The scoop:  How far would you go to save your family?

Every morning, as her husband Mike straps on his SIG Sauer and pulls on his heavy Magnum boots, Jamie Anderson tenses up. Then comes the call she has always dreaded: There’s been a shooting at police headquarters. Mike isn’t hurt, but his long-time partner is grievously injured. As weeks pass and her husband’s insomnia and disconnectedness mount, Jamie realizes he is an invisible casualty of the attack. Then the phone rings again. Another shooting—but this time Mike has pulled the trigger.

But the shooting does more than just alter Jamie’s world. It’s about to change everything for two other women. Christie Simmons, Mike’s flamboyant ex, sees the tragedy as an opportunity for a second chance with Mike. And Jamie’s younger sister, Lou, must face her own losses to help the big sister who raised her. As the press descends and public cries of police brutality swell, Jamie tries desperately to hold together her family, no matter what it takes.

Liz & Lisa's Book Club: Things You Won't Say by Sarah Pekkanen

Sarah_pekkanenTHINGS YOU WON'T SAY is a very timely novel. Was there a newsworthy event that sparked the idea? Or what was the catalyst?

Fifteen years ago, I was a new reporter for the Baltimore Sun newspaper. One of my first assignments was to write an article about police officer Harold Carey Jr., who died in the line of duty. As I conducted interviews, the story that unfolded stunned me: Minutes before his death, Harold had been eating breakfast with a group that included Officer Lavon’De Alston, a close friend who’d encouraged him to join the force. Then a summons came in from their dispatcher: An officer was in trouble a short distance away. Few calls inspire such urgency among the brothers and sisters in blue, and the officers sprinted to their vehicles and sped, sirens blaring, to help.

At an intersection a couple of blocks away, the van being driven by Harold’s partner collided with the cruiser being driven by Lavon’De. Harold died at the scene. Lavon’De, who was badly injured in the crash, was devastated. She couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t stop thinking about Harold, the big, lovable man who’d nicknamed her “Shorty” and gobbled the rest of her pancakes when she couldn’t finish them.

Her anguish – as well as her sensitivity and strength – made a deep impression on me. It was wrenchingly unfair:  How could this happen to a police officer who was committed to helping people, to doing good, to saving lives? How could she endure the pain and guilt? Although the circumstances in my novel are different, my newspaper article “Officer Down!” was the inspiration for this book.

In it I wanted to explore what would happen to a good police officer who did the worst thing imaginable –shooting a teenager. In my novel, my police officer happened to be white, and the teenager happened to be Hispanic.

Now, my deadlines require me to turn in my manuscripts a full year before publication, so THINGS YOU WON’T SAY was already in the copy-editing stage when Michael Brown was shot to death by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. In THINGS YOU WON’T SAY, Michael Anderson, a white police officer, shoots Jose Torres, who was a Hispanic teenager, and some of the questions that arose for characters in my book – Would Anderson have fired if Jose Torres had been white? – echoed some of the questions swirling around the Ferguson case.

You always have a lot of fun with your fans--specifically, you have involved them when you're planning your book tours.  Last year, you had a cardboard cut out of Ryan Gosling with you. Any fun ideas planned for this year?

I love book signings, and am hoping to play some games with the audience. Winners will get giveaways for things like chocolates and copies of upcoming books! And I'm really looking forward to the event in Chicago on June 4, because it'll be a joint appearance with Liz & Lisa!

You've written six novels! Which of your characters would you:

A) want to have a drink with - Savannah from THE BEST OF US, because she lacks a filter when she talks and she's hysterical

B) want to be best friends with - Jamie from THINGS YOU WON'T SAY. She's a frazzled, funny, real mom who deals with the same problems and issues I always discuss with my own girlfriends

C) want to set your girlfriend up with - Trey from THESE GIRLS (he's a total hunk, and sensitive to boot!)

You've talked about juggling motherhood and writing--even penning parts of a novel while at soccer practice. Do you have a secret to to how you'll get your writing accomplished this summer, when the kids are out of school?

No. Any suggestions???? I need help!

Your seventh will publish May 2016. Can you share any details about it?

It's the story of a group of women who live in a small, close-knit neighborhood… and each woman is holding close a secret.

Thanks, Sarah!