Every Shiny Thing – 10 Intriguing Facts with Authors Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison
Every Shiny Thing isn’t just a book, it’s truly something special. Told half in prose, half in poetic verse, this heartfelt, yet totally heartbreaking story of friendship and growing up will give you all the feels. Here’s what this compelling story is all about.
In this beautifully constructed middle-grade novel, told half in prose and half in verse, Lauren prides herself on being a good sister, and Sierra is used to taking care of her mom. When Lauren’s parents send her brother to a therapeutic boarding school for teens on the autism spectrum, and Sierra moves to a foster home in Lauren’s wealthy neighborhood, both girls are lost until they find a deep bond with each other. But when Lauren recruits Sierra to help with a Robin Hood scheme to raise money for autistic kids who don’t have her family’s resources, Sierra has a lot to lose if the plan goes wrong. Lauren must learn that having good intentions isn’t all that matters when you battle injustice, and Sierra needs to realize that sometimes, the person you need to take care of is yourself.
From the moment we first heard about Every Shiny Thing, we knew it had the potential to be extraordinary, and we were so lucky to receive an advanced copy and be able to work with the authors to help them celebrate this emotional story. After just a few chapters, we found ourselves connecting with this story on a deep level. We’ve read a LOT of middle grade books before, and while this one definitely shares similarities to other books in the genre, it shines so brightly and is unlike anything we’ve ever read before. Sierra and Lauren may not always make the “right” decisions and are definitely a bit flawed, but what middle schooler isn’t? When you’re facing the uncertainty of growing up alongside family troubles that are difficult to handle, let alone understand, it’s easy to feel alone in the world. Sierra and Lauren are never alone, the bond between them is everything.
Every Shiny Thing shines a light on important themes like addiction, autism, growing up in foster care, and the consequences of shoplifting. We felt such compassion for these two girls and their less than perfect situations, even when they were making misguided choices because their hearts are always in the right place. It’s a gorgeous, unique, and authentic story that we fell absolutely in love with. Plus, how can you resist such a shiny, metallic cover?!
Every Shiny Thing authors Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison were kind enough to share 10 intriguing facts about this compelling story and how they turned their book idea into a reality!
Every Shiny Thing – 10 Intriguing Facts with Authors Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison:
We were at an author panel in New York City, and Cordelia said, “Hey, we should write a book together!” Laurie said, “Sure,” thinking this was a casual suggestion we might or might not follow up on…but by the time she was on the train back to Philadelphia, Cordelia had already sent her a text saying, “I have an idea for our book!” and just a few months later we had written a whole draft.
We started brainstorming titles right when we started working on the book. Other early title ideas were: Every Shiny Little Thing, When We Collide, Shiny Colliding Things, Everything Collides, Things in Collision, All the Shiny Things, and Shared Walls. But we decided on Every Shiny Thing before we even started writing, and it stuck!
The very first poem Cordelia wrote was the poem “Collide-o-scope,” in which Sierra describes her mom’s kaleidoscope. The kaleidoscope image is very important throughout the book and inspired our gorgeous, shiny cover!
The first two chapters in the final book were the last two chapters we wrote.
Sierra is named after an actual road called Sierra Road, just as she says she is in the story. The name Lauren just came to us and felt right…but originally we named Sierra’s foster family’s dog Morris, and then we realized we’d pretty much subconsciously inserted the name Laurie Morrison into the book…so we changed Morris to Seeger.
The book is set at a fictionalized Friends school. We both know Friends schools well because Laurie taught for six years at a Friends School, and Cordelia’s kids go to a Friends school, and we love the social justice part of the Quaker education.
Cordelia lives in Northwest Philadelphia where the book takes place. Laurie lives about a half hour away, but her mom moved to the neighborhood while we were writing the book, so now she spends a lot of time there too.
The food co-op in the story is real and actually does have 36 types of bulk granola, as Sierra observes!
The book includes a lot of other real Philadelphia stores and locations, too. The mall was based on the Plymouth Meeting Mall and we originally referred to it by name, but the Aveda store that Lauren and Sierra go to closed, so we decided to take out the name of the mall so that people who might read the book and go there wouldn’t say, “Hey, where’s the Aveda?”
Black Forest Cake is Laurie’s husband’s favorite cake, so that is why Lauren bakes it. He also has a passion for pet fish, as Lauren’s brother does, and when they started dating, Laurie gave them people names just like Lauren names her brother’s fish. Cordelia’s husband is also a gardener and composter, which is how those things became a sub-plot in the story.
Every Shiny Thing is now available from Amulet Books, so be sure to add it to the top of your reading pile. Looking for another book that will take you on an emotional ride? Check out our interview with Jen Petro-Roy, author of P.S. I Miss You.