Donna Freitas is the author of both fiction and nonfiction, and she lectures at universities across the United States on her work about college students, most recently at Colby, Pepperdine, Harvard, and Yale. Over the years, she has written for national newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post, and she’s currently a non-resident research associate at the Center for Religion and Society at Notre Dame. Donna has been a professor at Boston University in the Department of Religion and also at Hofstra University in their Honors College.
In 2008, Donna published Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance and Religion on America’s College Campuses with Oxford University Press, based on her national study about sex on campus. Her latest book is called The Happiness Effect: How Social Media is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost (Oxford, October 2016), and it is based on her research for a new study about social media and how it is effecting the ways we construct identity and sense of self, how we make meaning in the world, and navigate our relationships during college. In 2014 and 2015, Freitas conducted approximately 200 in-person interviews with college students at thirteen different colleges and universities, and collected nearly1000 online surveys about these subjects.
Donna is also the author of six novels for children and young adults, including The Survival Kit (FSG, 2011), named an ALA Best Books for Young Adults and the winner of the Bookstar Award in Switzerland, and This Gorgeous Game (FSG, 2010), also named an ALA Best Books for Young Adults, a winner of the CCBC Choice Award, and a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best winner. Her novel, The Possibilities of Sainthood (FSG, 2008), received five starred reviews and many accolades, including: an Indie Next Kids' List Great Read, Society of School Librarians International Book Award Honor Book, VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers, and the Texas Lone Star Reading List. Donna has also published two middle grade companion novels with Scholastic, Gold Medal Summer (about a gymnast) and Gold Medal Winter (about an ice skater), which just won a CCBC Choice Award. In June, Unplugged the first novel in her sci-fi trilogy about two competing worlds, one real, one virtual, will be out in June from HarperTeen. She lives in Brooklyn.
HOW SOCIAL MEDIA HAS AFFECTED THE BOOK COMMUNITY
by Donna Freitas
I think social media has both an upside and a downside with respect to the book community. For example, getting to hear from readers easily and getting to know book bloggers (like you!) and participate in people’s conversations about books is pretty fantastic. I love seeing the different ways people have devoted themselves to showing their love for novels and how they invite authors to be a part of the reading and book community online. I love reading interviews by my favorite authors and finding out about new must-reads.
I do worry, though, about the ease of what I’ve come to think of as the “pile-on,” where an issue, a post, a comment goes viral and things get vicious and out of control. We’ve seen a lot of that in the last year. It’s not that we shouldn’t be talking about tough issues, but I worry sometimes that the dialogue gets . . . fearsome. So intense that I worry it will scare people away from sharing their honest thoughts. The price can be high to be both a writer and online commentator today.
And, to be honest, as someone who was born without a very thick skin, sometimes the absolute onslaught of feedback about a novel—and also the way the feedback can get, well, pretty mean—can be tough. As an author, it’s wonderful when you get to interact with readers. But sometimes I think to myself: I didn’t need to know how many people out there think that the books I’ve spent my life writing and revising are total garbage (and that is putting it nicely). Every author struggles with social media in this regard. More feedback about yourself and your work than you ever dreamed of getting is there for viewing, if only you should go to look. Sometimes it’s difficult to resist the temptation.
The last thing I’ll say about social media, again from my personal experience is this:
I struggle with social media, because of a terrible part of my past, which I wrote about here on B&N’s teen blog (you have to scroll down the middle to find my contribution).
I don’t really do social media, or I guess, as I put it in that blog post: I’m a social media failure, and my greatest fear is that because of this, I’ll no longer be able to be a writer and an author. So much of publishing revolves around authors promoting themselves on social media. And I don’t do this—well, except when people like you invite me to! (I explain why in that big long post on B&N).
And I hope that you, bloggers and readers, can forgive me for this limitation. And try to understand, as irrational as it might seem on the other side, that I’m doing my best to be as available as I can be.
Unplugged by Donna Freitas
Pub Date: June 21, 2016
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository
The first book in a provocative new series from acclaimed author Donna Freitas—Feed for a new generation.
Humanity is split into the App World and the Real World—an extravagant virtual world for the wealthy and a dying physical world for the poor. Years ago, Skylar Cruz’s family sent her to the App World for a chance at a better life.
Now Skye is a nobody, a virtual sixteen-year-old girl without any glamorous effects or expensive downloads to make her stand out in the App World. Yet none of that matters to Skye. All she wants is a chance to unplug and see her mother and sister again.
But when the borders between worlds suddenly close, Skye loses that chance. Desperate to reach her family, Skye risks everything to get back to the physical world. Once she arrives, however, she discovers a much larger, darker reality than the one she remembers.
In the tradition of M. T. Anderson’s Feed and Scott Westerfeld’sUglies, Unplugged kicks off a thrilling and timely sci-fi series for teens from an award-winning writer.
6/28: The Book Bratz - Review