I randomly grabbed SHUFFLE, REPEAT at ALAMW this year and little did I know it would quickly become one of my favorite books… But you can read more about why I say that down further… FIRST I want to tell you that we had the opportunity to ask Jen Klein, author of my new favorite book, a couple of questions about SHUFFLE, REPEAT, and few other things that you’re going to want to find out so keep reading!
But first… the book details.Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Also by this author: Summer Unscripted
Published by Random House Children's Books on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Fiction, Literary
When Harry Met Sally for YA romance readers. This opposites-attract love story is perfect for fans of Huntley Fitzpatrick, Stephanie Perkins, and Jenny Han.
June wants high school to end and real life to begin. Oliver is soaking up senior year’s glory days. They could have coasted through high school, knowing about—but not really knowing—each other.
Except that their moms have arranged for Oliver to drive June to school. Every. Single. Day.
Suddenly these two opposites are fighting about music, life . . . pretty much everything. But love is unpredictable. When promises—and hearts—get broken, Oliver and June must figure out what really matters. And then fight for it.
Describe SHUFFLE, REPEAT in 5 words.
Relatable. Fun. Emotional. Moody. Romantic.
How did SHUFFLE, REPEAT come about, what was your inspiration? What made you think you had to write this story?
I never know how to answer this question because it’s not as simple as “it just popped into my head one day,” but it’s also not along the lines of “I dug into my psyche and discovered this story that had to be told.” Generally speaking, when I have a deadline for Project A, there will be moments when my brain needs a break (from the outside, it might look a lot like procrastination…). I’ll start doodling around on Projects B through Z. It might be scribbling a line of dialogue or writing snippets of backstory or ordering a related book or researching something online. Much later, when Project A is done and I’m organizing all those messy little pieces, the story of What Do I Want To Write Next will rise up from the chaos of B through Z. It always needs lots of work (and changes a LOT) from that point, but that’s generally how things start. For SHUFFLE, REPEAT—June and Oliver rose up and let it be known that their story must be told.
What was the hardest scene for you to write in SHUFFLE, REPEAT and why?
No specific scene, but there is some jumping around of time that was tricky to write. Nothing insane, just little flash-forwards into the future timeline. We catch up to all those flash-forwards at the end of the book. Those were the most difficult, just because there was a certain logic puzzle aspect to writing them (although I do love a good logic puzzle).
Can you share (without spoilers) a line or section of SHUFFLE, REPEAT that is your favorite?
This is realllly hard to do, because this is a story about a friendship that deepens into something more, so every piece is advancing that relationship. Thus, I will give you the old stand-by, which is the first page and a half AFTER the first flash-forward…
Even though I’m clearly visible on my new front porch, my unwanted ride heralds his arrival with a sharp honk, loud enough to cut through The Damned playing in my earbuds.
Oliver Flagg is the kind of guy who likes to make an entrance.
I wait until his gas-guzzling behemoth is completely stopped before I kill my music and trudge toward it. Whatever Oliver is listening to—I can hear drums and guitars—abruptly cuts off as I approach. Even though I’m a perfectly reasonably-sized person at five and a half feet tall, I practically have to take a running leap to get into his vehicle because it’s so monstrously huge, but eventually I am strapped in with my backpack on my lap. Ready to get this ride—and senior year—over with.
“You’re ten minutes early,” I tell Oliver. Just because our moms are BFFs doesn’t mean we have to be.
“You were ready.” He says it mildly. “Waiting outside and all dressed up for the first day of school.”
Since I’m in one of my standard outfits—jeans, chucks, a black tank layered over a white one—I know he’s being facetious. I also know he probably doesn’t comprehend the word “facetious.”
“I was listening to music. I was embracing the solitude.”
“Now you can embrace hanging out.” He flashes his patented hot-popular-jock grin in my direction before reversing onto Callaway Lane. “Besides, you’re supposed to show up early for the first day of school. These are the glory days, Rafferty.”
“Glory days.” The words come out of my mouth in a flat line. As far as I am concerned, high school is something to get through and get over. I don’t need to roll around in the overblown tradition of it all.
But this is Oliver Flagg. He wallows in window dressing. He festers in frivolity. If there’s the remotest chance that something will involve a sign-up sheet or a spirit banner or a dude dressed up as a bird (our school mascot is a robin), Oliver is in.
Simply put… he loves that shit.
And I hate it.
I really hate it.
Since we’re talking 2016 books, what upcoming 2016 release (besides your own) are you most excited to read and fangirl over?
Ooh… PAGAN JONES: CITY OF SPIES by Nina Berry! Full disclosure: I beta-read the first one and it’s all kinds of awesome. Like James Bond meets Mad Men, except with a twisted, badass heroine.
What are you currently reading?
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING by Kari Luna. It’s super cute!
Any advice for aspiring writers?
This will sound cliché, but clichés exist for a reason. Do these three things a LOT: read, write, rewrite. Oh, and also make friends with other writers. Those imaginative crazy souls are your tribe. Find your tribe.
You’ve been kidnapped. You can call on the characters from one television show to make a rescue attempt. Which show do you pick and why?
Scandal. Those people will get me out safely AND they’ll take some of the kidnappers’ teeth as souvenirs…
What one YA Novel do you wish you had when you were a teen?
Judy Blume existed when I was a teen so—in a way—I had all the books I needed at that time. She let us know about being different and being in pain and being in love and having sex and navigating complicated friendships. I read YA books differently now because I don’t need to learn from them in the same way. But – on behalf of teenagers– I am extremely grateful that there are so many more relatable books that exist these days.
Tell us 3 random facts about you.
- Hate feet but love toe-socks.
- Things for which I have been paid in the past include: writing logic puzzles, dancing in an outdoor musical drama about the life of Daniel Boone, and interviewing celebrities.
- I didn’t learn to tie my shoes like a grown-up (i.e. not making “bunny ears” with the loops) until I was in college and my roommate saw what I was doing and shame-taught me.
What’s next for you? Are you working on anything right now that you can tell us about?
My next book hasn’t been announced yet so I don’t think I can say anything specific, but I can tell you it’s another contemporary romance about two seemingly mismatched teens who might just be perfect for each other. Also, there are hidden symbols and improvised monologues and a camping trip gone horribly awry. And I’m also a writer for Grey’s Anatomy on ABC, so of course I’m working on that, too.
Favorite Song (right now): I’m listening to the soundtrack from Hamilton right now…
Favorite Book (right now): Too difficult to answer so I’m going to say my all-time fave, one of the YA originals before “YA” was a known thing… A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.
Favorite TV Show/Movie: Besides Grey’s Anatomy (of course!), I love Game of Thrones and Girls, and I just finished binge-watching the first season of Love.
Favorite Word: Changes daily, depending on what I’ve just read (or written).
Favorite Color: Blue.
Favorite Curse Word: I have to go with the classic F-bomb, despite the fact that it’s not used even once in Shuffle, Repeat. Art doesn’t always imitate life, I guess…
I loved, loved, loved this book.
June is ready for high school to be over so she can start her real life… I mean everything that happens in high school is really just warm up for what’s going to happen next and doesn’t mean a thing. At least that’s what June thinks.
Oliver on the other hand has loved high school and is living up his glory days. He’s a senior and he’s going to enjoy and take advantage of every single thing being a senior has to offer. Now he just needs to convince June that he’s right.
June and Oliver have always known about each other… their moms are best friends after all. They’ve kind of orbited around each other though. They have different friends and different outlooks on life and things could have remained that way if their moms hadn’t arranged for Oliver to drive June to school every morning.
To say June isn’t really on board with the idea of this would be an understatement, but Oliver is prepared to make the most of it and despite disagreeing about everything from music to the importance of what is happening in their lives, a friendship develops between them. They begin to care more as they learn about each other.
Did I mention yet that they both are in other relationships when the school year starts? I love that that was the case because it allowed Klein to keep their feelings firmly in the friend zone and really build the friendship between them. And they really did form a true friendship and honestly, I absolutely love when our main characters are friends first and have some history to build upon.
I have to tell you that I loved June. She is snarky and funny and I just adored her. I loved her relationship with her mom… I loved her relationship with her friends… I loved that we got to see her character grow a bit from beginning to end.
Oliver is so sweet you guys… I swear most of you are going to want to claim him as your next book boyfriend. I loved how much he loved and wanted to be a part of his senior year and I loved that he didn’t take any crap from June.
These two together… their banter was fun and sweet and I wanted to creepily be sitting in the back seat of Oliver’s behemoth of a truck listening in as they made their way to school each morning. I also have to mention the secondary characters here, they were so fun and I loved the way they supported each other and I loved that they all kind of had their own stories too, instead of just revolving around June and Oliver.
This story is super low on drama, which makes for a very enjoyable read for me. Don’t get me wrong, there is obviously some drama, but nothing that will have you pulling your hair out in frustration or threatening to throw your book across the room.
If you are a fan of Kasie West or Sarah Dessen, this book is going to be right up your alley. Make sure you put this one on your must read list and grab it as soon as possible. I can’t wait to put a finished copy on my bookshelf and I can’t wait for more from Jen Klein in the future!