'I Will Find You Again'

"I Will Find You Again" by Sarah Lyu.

Expect love and loss, trauma and madness in Sarah Lyu's "I Will Find You Again".

What was your inspiration behind "I Will Find You Again"?

I wanted to write about that feeling of falling in love with your best friend, your soulmate, the one person in the world who understands you — the only person in the universe who’s your safe harbor. And I wanted to write about what happens when a love like that falls apart and the journey of finding each other again: all the mistakes, yes, but all the moments of grace too. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was a big inspiration and it’s a recurring reference in the novel. I loved how complex and layered the core relationship in that movie is, and I wanted to tell a story that felt like that. The problems and characters are completely different, but they’re all grappling with big life questions. They’re grappling with how to find happiness in a world that often feels alienating, or worse, indifferent.

What does Reading Rainbow mean to you?

Reading Rainbow is more important than ever due to the many legal and political challenges facing schools and libraries as they deal with threats of defunding or outright closure from groups fighting to ban queer books. It’s crucial we celebrate the experiences of members of the LGBT community and empower young readers who struggle with questions of identity and self-acceptance. I wish my teen self had access to the amazing queer books published in the last decade, and it’s heartbreaking to watch the intensity of anger and hatred aimed at what is at its essence simply literature about being human. For me specifically, I love reading books where a queer character doesn’t have to explain or justify their existence, where their sexual orientation and/or gender identity isn’t solely used as a plot device, and where their struggle or trauma isn’t written on the page to teach the reader some kind of lesson. To me, it’s so important that queer characters and people claim the space to chart their own destinies. That was my goal with "I Will Find You Again."

Why do you feel representation of a variety of people is so important when it comes to writing books?

Growing up, I had so few books that had characters who looked like me and shared my experiences. Back then, it was acceptable to tell those with marginalized identities to see stories about cis, straight, white characters as “universal.” Of course, it was a one way street, with “no demand” for diverse stories, and while we have a lot of room for improvement, the overall landscape is much better. It’s so important to see stories starring marginalized characters as universal and universally accessible; readers of every identity deserve books centered on their experiences and their stories. When I was young, I struggled with internalized racism and homophobia in part because I never saw myself or my experiences in any books, movies, TV shows. It felt impossible to accept who I was when the implicit (and sometimes explicit) messaging was that a person like me didn’t belong — didn’t deserve to belong. But I hope with each book I write, I’m carving a place for myself and others like me. And I hope readers who don’t share the same marginalized identities of my characters will still see their stories as universal.

Tell us a little more about "I Will Find You Again" and why you decided to write it.

This is the book I needed when I was a teen and I wrote this book for my younger self and for anyone who’s experienced the brutality of perfectionism and fear of failure. We’re all inundated with societal messaging about success and achieving it in a very specific way by a certain age or else we’re permanent failures. There’s a pervasive fear of not being good enough, of jockeying for power or money or social status to feel “safe.” Anything to secure and understand our place in a big, unpredictable world. All of this is heightened by the world Chase inhabits — a wealthy NYC commuter town in Long Island. Objectively, she’s very privileged and not just because of her parents’ income. She’s smart and pretty and hardworking. She’s almost guaranteed a life of financial comfort. But for her, it’s not enough because nothing can ever be enough. Once she attains a certain achievement, she sees another on the horizon that she just has to have. It’s a trap that her girlfriend, Lia, wants to escape but doesn’t quite know how. In the book, they’re locked in this conversation, this debate, about how to forge a future together — about trading the idea of success for a shot at happiness — but as they dance around each other, they only dig themselves deeper in trying to escape. To make schoolwork easier, they join a cheating ring, but that quickly becomes even more work than before as it grows into an enterprise they run. Sometimes the trap isn’t the situation itself but how we’ve locked our mindsets, and I really wanted to explore that and hopefully provide readers with a way out of the maze.

What can fans expect from "I Will Find You Again"?

Fans of my first novel, "The Best Lies," can also expect an emotionally intense relationship with a bittersweet ending — I don’t know how to write any other kind of story! The "Best Lies" and "I Will Find You Again" are also both novels about love and loss, trauma and madness. These are the themes that haunt me and keep me up at night.

What's up next for you in the bookish world?

I’m working on a new book but it’s in the early stages so a lot will likely change. Like my first two novels, it’ll feature intense relationships, longing, grief, and hope.


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