Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia
Review by Lauren
copy sent for review, but all opinions are my own
Lemon Williams was raised buried in the shadow of her free-spirited mother, Stella, and consequently her childhood was spent on the move – dodging disasters and mastering the art of packing up apartments, of being the new kid, and of leaving the past behind.
But when Lemon begins her senior year at another new school, she realizes she’s taken an inescapable part of their last life with them: She’s pregnant. In an attempt to fill in the gaps of her history and to avoid repeating Stella’s mistakes, she decides she must set things right by going in search of the father she’s never met. So as new life grows inside her, Lemon boards a Greyhound bus and heads west to San Francisco in hopes of freeing herself from her childhood mishaps and discovering the true meaning of family.
Review: This is one of those books where I think it’s supposed to be YA, but it’s not like most YA titles I’ve read. And that’s a good thing. It’s very much a cross-over, in my opinion, similar in some ways to Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert. By that, I mean Fingerprints and Ballads both deal with big issues of life…moving forward, making mistakes, falling and picking yourself up.
Fingerprints of You has a bit of a lighter feel overall though, I thought, and I loved the setting of San Francisco. It was great to explore the various areas with Lemon, especially lesser known places. I’ve never been to California, so it was nice to have that “tourist” look of things.
Lemon is an interesting character to follow along with. She wants to find her dad in order to find herself in a way, and knowing that she’s going to have a child that won’t have a dad in their life either gives her new perspective. She meets a boy that is the definition of a perfect book boy. He’s adorable, loves music, and sincerely seems to care about Lemon (despite the fact that she clearly has a rough past and is, you know, pregnant with some other person’s kid).
I really did enjoy reading Fingerprints of You. It’s not full of big action, but it’s full of big emotion…and a whole lot of heart.
And now…an interview with Kristen-Paige Madonia
1. Fingerprints of You reference a lot of books, since Lemon is a big reader. Are these all titles you have read and personally enjoy? Which one would be a favorite?
I have read them all, but I think it would be absolutely impossible to pick a favorite! I can say that, like Lemon, as a high school student I fell in love with the Beats, and part of my literary heart will always belong to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. It was published in 1957, but there’s something so timeless and romantic about the spontaneous cross-country road trip, the jazz and art culture of that time period and the west coast, and the poetry and indulgent lifestyle the characters experiment with. It’s a journey novel, a quest for faith and true friendship, and a search for love as the characters hunt for a sense of an authentic and meaningful life, and to me it will always be the classic coming-of-age novel. It’s one of the books that changed the way I saw the world around me and inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone and explore various parts of the U.S. myself, and for that I am so very thankful.
I read On the Road in high school as well. I’d love to re-read it now that it’s been awhile, but I remember enjoying it!
2. I read that a portion of this book was previously published. Can you share what this was, or how the story changed from short story to full-length novel?
When I first discovered Lemon and Stella I was sitting at a coffee shop in San Francisco and noticed two women, a woman and a girl really, crossing the street, and just like that, Stella and Lemon arrived in my imagination in typical fashion of their characters: they were mysterious but vivid, complicated but strong-willed and clear in their convictions, and they were one-hundred percent relentless about making sure I didn’t forget them. It was a terrible time to find a new set of characters – I was in the middle of working on a different novel – but once I created them, I just couldn’t leave them alone. So I wrote what became chapter one and two as a short story and returned to the other book I was writing at the time. But I wasn’t satisfied with where I left them, so I wrote another story… and another. By the time I hit the hundred-page mark, it was clear my story had become the beginning of a novel. The novel changed a great deal during the course of all the different drafts, but the story was always Lemon’s and the voice and point of view always belonged to her.
3. Since I love music, are there are any songs that you feel fit the characters or the situations in the novel?
Absolutely, in fact, last month Lemon released her cross-country playlist on my website, which includes the songs I imagined her and Emmy listening to on their journey, all songs I listened to when I was writing the book. I created the idea of “Lemon’s List” once we sold the novel to Simon and Schuster, and it has been a great way for me to engage with the characters and the world of FINGERPRINTS OF YOU again. She’s posted a playlist and a booklist so far, and next month she’ll share her movie list followed by her list of favorite places in San Francisco. You can find Lemon’s Lists, including the songs, at the following link: http://kristenpaigemadonia.com/lemons-booklist/
Thanks so much for having me on Shooting Stars Mag, Lauren!
Thank YOU Kristen-Paige!