By Mónica González
(@TheLiteraryMomo on Twitter)
Last Wednesday night, The Bookmark hosted it’s monthly book club, this time featuring Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider, followed by a Q&A Skype session with the author. The discussion was one full of laughs, cries and strong feelings, which was expected due to the nature of the story, yet still notable. For those who don’t know, Extraordinary Means is a story revolving around Lane Rosen and Sadie Bennett. The two had admired each other from afar at summer camp and, four years later, the two meet, and fall for one another, under less than ideal circumstances while quarantined in Latham House, a Tuberculosis (TB) sanatorium.
Most attendants, to not say all, agreed on how they loved the story and all shared a mutual heartbreak and frustration regarding Charlie’s death. Most readers agreed that his “embarrassing moment” was punishment enough and he didn’t need to die anymore.
Some of the attendants found appealing the idea of a “boarding school for sick kids,” a reader from the front row who attended a boarding school even admitted how its representation was very realistic when compared to a real one, feeling I can agree on and vouch for since I’m also boarding school alumni.
There was a very active discussion on the topic of Nick. Mixed feelings overpowered the room, most people liked his character but thought of him as selfish, careless and; in the words of Schneider herself, “so annoying.”
Another recurring topic was Michael, his extortion of TB infected teenagers, his implied and unrealistic thoughts of not catching it, and the cruel way he reacted after he did, causing a tragedy that could’ve been avoided.
When Schneider made her virtual appearance, joking about how the attendants were asking so many “depressing questions,” excitement and curiosity was noticeable among the entire crowd. “Thank you for all the Harry Potter references, my heart was flying,” said a reader while complementing Schneider’s writing. This was not the only time that JK Rowling’s series made an impact during the event. Commotion struck when someone asked for the Butterbeer Latte ingredients, which Schneider googled immediately and shared with the group, noting that you can’t actually “ask for a Butterbeer Latte,” you have to explain the ingredients to your barista. Yes, it’s a real thing, and yes, it’s available at Starbucks from their super secret menu, which you can find here.
When Schneider was asked if she had any visual representation for Marina’s clothing style, she stated that she did not but that she has “a friend named Lorena” who’s super stylish and if she explained it to her, she would most likely create a look that catches Marina’s essence perfectly. She also said she hopes Tumblr creates the look, as well as the true sound of Charlie’s album, which she pictures similar to YouTube ukulele videos.
Regarding Sadie’s unfortunate end, Schneider explained that, given that Sadie had already come to terms with her life, having completed her bucket list within Latham and not being able to picture a life outside of it, she was scared of the real world and she didn’t feel ready to face it. She also confessed that she “cried buckets while writing it.”
There was a discussion on the moral importance of writing about sick youth as well as the responsibility of authors working on large themes with life lessons. Schneider agreed on both statements, given that books are longer than movies so have more space to get in depth within a topic and that, since illness is almost inevitable and, until very recently, stories about illness were portrayed strictly by adults or elders, it made the concept un-relatable and rare when, in reality, it’s very common.
Schneider, who is currently in Los Angeles, California, confessed that her favorite character to write was Lane, that she really liked Sadie too and it was almost a tie between the two, but that she also liked writing Nick’s dialogue.
For all you book and movie lovers out there, Schneider, who actually wrote and produced the book trailer, is working on a new novel with a “best friends” theme and an Extraordinary Means movie is being talked about, but hasn’t been confirmed, nor rights have been bought.
The night ended with a memorable fan-created pickup line, which goes like this: “You make my med sensor go beep beep!,” as well as prizes and a reminder of next month’s book club, Liars Inc. by Paula Stokes, as always, at The Bookmark. See you soon!