. . . It’s about a girl struggling to make peace with her family, and also learning that her voice has value and power. NPLH is also filled with quotations, moonlight kisses, a sarcastic cousin, gingerbread houses, hiking, ziplines, and new beginnings. My hope is that readers will connect with Ashlyn’s journey and maybe even feel inspired to speak up more often in their own lives.
There is never a good way to find out your father is going to prison. Some are worse than others, though. For example, learning that your father has committed tax evasion via a social media post is on the top five worst ways list.
I might have missed it, if I hadn’t logged on to see if my best friend, Tatum, had posted any new messages for me. We’d spent the last school year apart—me at boarding school in the Shenandoah Valley and her at home, just south of Washington, DC—and we had been making plans for not only my big return home, but for the upcoming school year. Not that I’d actually asked my parents if I could come back for senior year yet. But I would. Soon.
I swallowed the lump in the back of my throat and shut my laptop harder than I meant to. There was no way. Right? My dad going to jail? I scoffed aloud. No chance. It was a misprint. Had to be. There was no way my parents would keep something like Dad committing white collar crime a secret from me. Was there?
I felt around in my backpack for my phone. I’ll just call home and clear it up. Easy.
I dialed my mother but got her voicemail.
“I loved that while this was an overall light read, the author was not afraid to delve into deep themes that gave No Place Like Here a layered meaning. No Place Like Here also held the timeless elements of friendship, the dynamics of family, and finding the courage to make your voice heard that will make for the perfect summer read!”
“I really enjoyed reading this! It was interesting seeing how the classic Hansel and Gretel fairy tale was twisted into this contemporary story. The author made it her own and created a story easy to relate to, handling some difficult subjects, and creating a likable protagonist and some fun side characters. Recommended to contemporaneity YA fans, especially those who like their stories light on the romance.”
“Call Dad,” I said into the phone. It practically slipped from my sweaty palm. It rang once. Twice. Three times. I was about to slam the phone down on my bed when my dad answered.
“Hello?” Dad’s voice was gruff. Short. Like he didn’t have time for this.
“Hi, Dad.” My voice quavered. “It’s me.”
“Ashlyn, hi. How are you? Getting ready for exams, I hope.” Did I hear him take a deep breath? Was it fear or relief? Regardless, here he was, still managing to tell me what he thought I should be doing. Classic.
I gritted my teeth. “Of course. You know me.” And the kicker was, he didn’t. But that was neither here nor there.
“Author Christina June has written a deep, powerful, and heart-wrenching story in her novel, No Place Like Here. . . . Teens and adults alike will be drawn to this tender and emotional story. This is one of those stories that gives readers all the feels. Readers will absolutely not want to put down this novel. . .”
I pursed my lips. “I’m sorry I was shocked by the fact that you didn’t tell me before the internet did.” As soon as I said it, my stomach dropped like I was on a roller coaster. Clapping back at him never went over well.
My father exhaled into the receiver. “Unhelpful, Ashlyn. This is a very difficult time for me right now. It is certainly not the time to be disrespectful. You were not raised to act this way.”
My chest tightened the way it always did when he criticized me. I wanted to tell my dad it was a very difficult time for all of us right now. Because of him. I wanted to tell him I was angry something catastrophic was happening to our family. Because of him. I wanted to tell him I felt embarrassed and ashamed. Because of him. I wanted to tell him that despite my anger, I was scared. Because of him, and for him as well. But I said none of those things.
“A story about the longing for home even when it’s not perfect or you don’t feel worthy of it, No Place Like Here is a poignant and moving story. . . . Using touches from Hansel and Gretel, Christina June gives readers another engaging book with a young heroine whose journey to obtain her deepest with, to go home again, finds her strength and individualism. Young readers will enjoy this summer read with a memorable setting, plenty of conflict, and an ending that offers the promise of wishes realized.”
“No Place Like Here is a thought-provoking coming of age story of finding your path in life when your parents want you to be something that you’re not. . . . was a story that made me laugh and cry at times and I hope everyone gets a chance to read this beautifully written story.”
RANDOM FACTS ABOUT NO PLACE LIKE HERE
1. When I was in 5th grade, my whole class went to a team-building camp overnight. Sweetwater Overlook in the book was inspired by that trip.
2. Ashyn collects quotes and so do I. I’ve had a quote journal since I was 14. . .
“I do love to read coming-of-age YA novels, so I was intrigued by the blurb to this book. I was also intrigued by the idea of it being related to the tale of Hansel and Gretel. I have to admit that I had a hard time following that parallel, but it has been years since I last read that. But I didn’t need the connection to appreciate this book and inhale it in one sitting. . . . As expected, Ashlyn goes through incredible growth and discovers so much about herself and her strengths. She develops incredible leadership skills and forges relationships with some people she may not have otherwise. I love watching her journey and how she grows.”
“No Place Like Here was so much more than I expected! I went into it thinking I was getting a somewhat fluffy summer camp novel (at only 272 pages I finished it in half a shift at work – yes, my job is that slow). While there were fluffy aspects, it was so much deeper and touched my heart in ways I was completely surprised by.”
“I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book after reading on a different review that there’s not a big focus on romance. The author dealt so well with the themes and I was captivated as I read about Ashlyn’s journey that was at times difficult, uncomfortable, healing, and empowering. . . . A lovely story of becoming self-aware and choosing to be strong in the circumstances we are given.”
“Overall, this was a really fun YA contemporary about being yourself that could appeal to a wide audience (I think even older middle grade readers would enjoy this one). There are some fantastic themes/messages herein, and this would be a wonderful book to grab on the way to the beach this summer!”
“So, it’s all decided.”
“All decided,” I echoed with zero enthusiasm. I knew better than to complain further. The sureness in his voice and the fact that he wasn’t trying to convince me that spending my summer in the middle of the woods was a good idea just proved how much he was still in charge. Even when he was about to be locked up.
“You’ll have fun, Ashlyn. This place looks like a stand-up operation. You’ll love it. Hannah wouldn’t go back for a second year if it wasn’t great.”
Hannah and I are not the same kind of girl, I didn’t say. But for my father to know that, he would’ve had to have read the annual holiday newsletter and I would’ve bet my college fund that he hadn’t taken the time to read it further than to confirm that his brother and his family were alive and kicking. He would also have had to pay attention to me beyond making sure my report card was flawless, my clothes were acceptable, and my posture was straight.
“Ashlyn’s journey from a quiet, apathetic girl to someone brave enough to speak up for others was excellently executed. The subtle arc was just enough to show change, without making her instantly turn around like some books I’ve read. Change is a slow process, one foot at a time, and No Place Like Here shows that perfectly.
Overall, I enjoyed the book immensely, and now I’m adding Christina June to my list of favorite authors!”
“Bad news travels at the speed of light around here, I guess,” I said, trying to keep my voice steady.
On a scale from one to ten, my year at Blue Valley Academy earned a five. I’d managed to get good grades and do well in activities, but I hadn’t really made friends. Plenty of acquaintances, but not friends. I wasn’t surprised. The other girls were mostly from small towns nearby, while I was the “city snob,” as I’d overheard one girl saying in the hallway. No one had been rude to my face, and some had been pleasant—Cassie was on the nicer side, for sure—but I wasn’t invited on weekend trips home and no one decorated my door on my birthday. I couldn’t really blame them. Trying to break into any clique during junior year, when everyone else had known each other since birth, was nearly impossible.
“So, it’s true?”
“It seems that way.” My face was blank. I didn’t know Cassie well enough to trust her with the fear and confusion that was hiding behind my emotionless mask.
“. . . I loved the characters and I especially loved the setting!! . . . I enjoyed this story and I strongly recommend it.”
Paperback, Audiobook & ebook, 288 Pages
May 21st 2019 by Blink
From Christina June, author of It Started with Goodbye and Everywhere You Want to Be, comes No Place Like Here, a modern twist on Hansel and Gretel.
Ashlyn Zanotti has big plans for the summer. She’s just spent a year at boarding school and can’t wait to get home. But when Ashlyn’s father is arrested for tax evasion and her mother enters a rehab facility for “exhaustion,” a.k.a. depression, her life is turned upside down.
The cherry on top? Ashlyn’s father sends her to work with a cousin she doesn’t even know at a rustic team-building retreat center in the middle of nowhere. A self-proclaimed “indoor girl,” not even Ash’s habit of leaving breadcrumb quotes–inspirational sayings she scribbles everywhere–can help her cope.
With a dangerously careless camp manager doling out grunt work, an overbearing father trying to control her even from prison, and more than a little boy drama to struggle with, the summer is full of challenges. And Ashlyn must make the toughest decision of her life: keep quiet and follow her dad’s marching orders, or find the courage to finally stand up to her father to have any hope of finding her way back home.
Fans looking for stories with elements of drama, romance, friendship, and an unflinching look into navigating and improving even the most difficult parent-teen relationships need look no further.
Other Books by the Author
Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters. Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland. She lives in Virginia with her husband and daughter. She is the author of IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, and NO PLACE LIKE HERE.
1 winner will receive a print copy of NO PLACE LIKE HERE, a poster, and a book plate
Paperback & ebook, 288 Pages
May 1st 2018 by Blink
From author Christina June comes Everywhere You Want to Be, a modern tale inspired by the classic Red Riding Hood.
Matilda Castillo has always done what she was told, but when she gets injured senior years, she watches her dreams of becoming a contemporary dancer slip away. So when Tilly gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend the summer with a New York dance troupe, nothing can stop her from saying yes–not her mother, not her fears of the big city, and not the commitment she made to Georgetown. Tilly’s mother allows her to go on two conditions: one, Tilly will regularly visit her abuela in New Jersey, and two, after the summer, she’ll give up dancing and go off to college.
Armed with her red vintage sunglasses and her pros and cons lists, Tilly strikes out, determined to turn a summer job into a career. Along the way she meets new friends … and new enemies. Tilly isn’t the only one desperate to dance, and fellow troupe member Sabrina Wolfrik intends to succeed at any cost. But despite dodging sabotage and blackmail attempts from Sabrina, Tilly can’t help but fall in love with the city, especially since Paolo, a handsome musician from her past, is also calling New York home for the summer.
As the weeks wind down and the competition with Sabrina heats up, Tilly’s future is on the line. She must decide whether to follow her mother’s path to Georgetown or leap into the unknown to pursue her own dreams.
In EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, Tilly and her fellow dancers are preparing for a performance at the end of the summer. There’s a lot at stake, both for the dancers and the choreographer, Sage. The piece is about fighting your demons, both external and internal, so the music I listened to while writing often reflected that, in the artist’s life, their lyrics, or the mood of the song.
“And each of you is going to do a little self-reflection while you’re here.” A collective groan echoed softly through the room. Sage chuckled. “Nothing you can’t handle. The theme I want you all to remember while you’re dancing is ‘slaying the dragon.’ That could mean an actual dragon, like in a fairy tale. It could mean defeating an enemy in a war, like Joan of Arc. It could mean something within yourself. But you need to do some thinking on what, or who, inspires you to keep going. Get a book. Watch a movie. Observe the people in your life.” Sage’s voice grew quieter. “Some of my favorites are the ones who battled and lost. For example, I’ve often used the music of Amy Winehouse and Janis Joplin in my pieces because you can hear them wrestling with their emotions when they sing.”
Here’s my playlist on Spotify.
Other Books in the Series
Paperback & ebook, 304 Pages
May 9th 2017 by Blink
Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.
Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor. She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters. Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland. She lives in Virginia with her husband and daughter. Christina is the author of IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, and the forthcoming NO PLACE LIKE HERE.
– 1 winner will receive an ebook of IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE and EVERWHERE YOU WANT TO BE