It’s my pleasure to introduce Rita Arens to you today. Rita is a multi-published author and blogger. THE OBVIOUS GAME is her debut Young Adult novel that has been receiving rave reviews.
Mother / Daughter Relationships in The Obvious Game
The mother/daughter relationship can be strained during the teen years even under the best of circumstances. Diana’s mom, Evelyn, has cancer in THE OBVIOUS GAME, and that illness and its effect on their relationship hangs over everything Diana does in that turbulent year.
I find mother/daughter relationships fascinating, both because I have a mother and because I have a daughter. As my girl has grown, I’ve found myself really feeling for my own mother, who got cancer when I was just a little older than my daughter and my sister was around the same age. Thinking about how I would handle chemotherapy and radiation and losing my hair and being so very sick at this point in my adult life has really humbled me and made me feel so much love and sympathy for my mother, who went into remission before the cancer came back when I was in middle school. Watching her go through the pain and fear and helplessness and hopelessness colored my childhood, though not always in a bad way. I’m happy to say my brave, strong mother has been in remission now for more than fifteen years and has the same chance of getting cancer again as any person off the street. I hope she has already done her time, but because of what I went through as a kid, there’s a part of me that expects to get ill and is just treading water until that happens. It’s a blessing and a curse — a curse because the anxiety and fear of expecting to get a life-threatening disease is not helpful to my mental health, but it’s a blessing because as I look at my daughter and think about how I’m NOT sick, I’m able to appreciate her normal, happy childhood and my normal, happy parenting experience in a unique way. I also know from watching my mom that you can win the cancer game. Not everyone does, but it’s possible, and that breeds hope.
I let Evelyn get sick because I wanted to write about how Diana experienced her mother’s illness as a teen. Diana is in her own head, and she’s focused on how Evelyn’s illness is affecting Diana until later in the novel. The evolution of their relationship as the book progresses is an important theme I wanted to write about. I know plenty of kids who have sick moms, and there’s something about having the one person who is supposed to be your rock be the weak one that is rough and worth talking about.
I spent a lot of years blaming myself for being mean to my mother because I wanted her to just be normal and healthy like everyone else’s mom, but as my daughter got older I realized I was not being mean so much as being a kid who hasn’t developed the capacity to see the world from an adult’s point of view. I would no more expect my daughter to understand cancer now then I should have expected myself to understand it when I was in elementary and middle school. Writing this book brought me so close to those memories I actually woke up a few times mad at my mom in a very teenaged way. But it was good to write my way through things I’d never said before and let it happen to Diana, to someone else, someone who has a different personality than I do. She reacts differently than I did and grows in a different way than I did, because her life experiences are way different than mine and she’s older when it all goes down. But I don’t feel bad about borrowing this part of my experience or the eating disorder (I had an eating disorder in my young adult to new adult years) because I’m a writer and putting emotions into stories so they can be processed is what I do. It’s safer to read about someone else’s pain, even if you’re the person who wrote that pain.
I adore my parents and I dedicated THE OBVIOUS GAME to them. It’s been a healing experience for me, and I hope it has, too, for them. My next book is completely different and has nothing to do with eating disorders or sick mothers. I wrote this book first because this is the story I’ve been waiting my whole life to tell. I hope you like it.
About the Book: The Obvious Game
“Everyone trusted me back then. Good old, dependable Diana. Which is why most people didn’t notice at first.”
“Your shirt is yellow.”
“Your eyes are blue.”
“You have to stop running away from your problems.”
“You’re too skinny.”
Fifteen-year-old Diana Keller accidentally begins teaching The Obvious Game to new kid Jesse on his sixteenth birthday. As their relationship deepens, Diana avoids Jesse’s past with her own secrets — which she’ll protect at any cost
About the Author: Rita Arens
Rita Arens is the author of The Obvious Game and the editor of the award-winning parenting anthology Sleep Is for the Weak. She writes the popular blog Surrender, Dorothy (www.surrenderdorothyblog.com) and lives in Kansas City with her husband and daughter. The Obvious Game is her first young adult novel. She is at work on a second.
Rita has been a featured speaker at BlogHer 2012, BEA Bloggers Conference 2012, BlogHer Writers 2011, BlogHer 2011, Blissdom 2011, Alt Summit 2010, BlogHer 2010, BlogHer 2008 and BlogHer 2009, the 2008 Kansas City Literary Festival and 2009 Chicks Who Click and appeared on the Walt Bodine Show in 2008.
She’s been quoted by Bloomberg Businessweek, The Associated Press, Forbes Woman, the Wall Street Journal, Businessweek and Businessweek Online and featured inBreathe magazine, Get Your Biz Savvy, The Kansas City Star (archived material available on request), Today Moms (Today Show blog) and Ink KC.