Trouble is a Friend of Mine
Author: Stephanie Tromly
Reading Level: Young Adult
Released: August 4th 2015
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Preparing to survive a typical day of being Digbys friend wasn't that different from preparing to survive the apocalypse.
Her first day not in school (because she cut) in her new hometown that will soon be her old hometown (because she's getting out of Dodge as fast as she can) Zoe meets Digby. Or rather, Digby decides he's going to meet Zoe and get her to help him find missing teenager. Zoe isn't sure how, but Digby—the odd and brilliant and somehow…attractive?—Digby always gets what he wants, including her help on several illegal ventures. Before she knows it, Zoe has vandalized an office complex with fake snow, pretended to buy drugs alongside a handsome football player dressed like the Hulk, had a throw-down with a possible cult, and, oh yeah, saved her new hometown (which might be worth making her permanent hometown after all.)
A mystery where catching the crook isn't the only hook, a romance where the leading man is decidedly unromantic, a story about friendship where they aren't even sure they like each other—Trouble is a Friend of Mine is a YA debut you won’t soon forget.
After her parent’s divorce, Zoe Webster moves with her mother into a new town. Yet, Zoe is determined to attend Princeton, not only to make her father proud but to be close to him once again. Her goal at her new school is to be the best student, stay out of trouble and make her father proud. Little did she know meeting Digby will change her life, forever. She even learned to appreciate her mother a bit better. I liked her. She was smart and her snarky comments made me laughed throughout the story. Like John Watson, Zoe balance Digby's craziness.
The adventure Digby takes Zoe to is one that you never want to end. Since the quest of finding out about the weird cult people across Zoe’s home isn’t enough, Digby is intriguer to investigate the disappearance of a high school student. Zoe finds herself caught up with Digby’s investigations and starts doing things she never imagined herself doing. For example, trying to buy drugs, all in the name of justice and to prove someone’s crimes.They're both a great team.
Digby’s logical reasoning, ability to take any disguise, and use his skills to solve a difficult cases, makes you think of Sherlock. He’s even eccentric. You want Digby to be your best friend. To take you into these wild investigations and even running into (yes, not away) exploding building. Sure, Digby will get you in trouble but he will also bring justice. I loved him so much.
From a religious cult to high stakes crime, even a touch of romance, Trouble is a Friend of Mine is a debut novel you don’t want to miss out. It’s filled with fun dialogue, banter and crimes to be solved. Read it and love it.
1. What's your favorite line or scene that you've written?
There’s a line Felix delivers in the sequel (which I’m now editing/rewriting) that I noticed made me inordinately happy. It’s a riff on a joke from The Big Lebowski . Although I’m not sure if it’ll make it into the final draft, I’d say writing that line was a kind of a high point. In the first book, I’d say that the chinchilla scene at the mall was extra fun to write. That wasn’t in the first draft I submitted so it was a bonus experience for me.
2. Are you anything like Digby?
Well, I’d say that the younger me was. I was so bad that growing up, the adults used to call me the “maestra” (by which they meant ‘instigator’) because I always got my siblings and classmates in trouble. In the book’s acknowledgements, I apologized to my brother and sister for my having put their lives in danger in the past: that wasn’t an exaggeration. I’m a little more sensible these days.
3. Did you, like Digby, struggle with other people's assumptions about your skills or abilities?
Massively so. As a woman in Asia, as an Asian in North America, as an immigrant...I am many identities and I don’t think any of the preformed personae that come with each of the labels I’ve been given fully describes me. I still have people tell me that my English is really good.
4. What's the best part of writing for young adults? What's the most difficult?
I love being able to go back into my memory banks and repurpose some of the crazy stuff I’ve seen and done for Zoe and Digby. I’d say I struggle with two things in particular. First, the stuff I write is occasionally too dark. I’m from Hong Kong and I’ve lived in places like Philadelphia and Los Angeles so sometimes, when I write about crime, I can get a little graphic. Second, there’s a real gap between what teenagers do and what mainstream writers are allowed to depict teenagers doing. I’m still learning where my boundaries lie.
5. What do you hope readers get out of Trouble is a Friend of Mine?
There’s crime, there’s slapstick, there’s a lot of stuff going on in the book but at the heart of it is Zoe, who’s self-conscious about not having friends in school but isn’t good at playing the game she knows she should be playing in order to fit in. She underestimates the value of her friendship with Digby because it doesn’t register on the social scale even though it’s actually a really rich and emotionally fulfilling relationship. I suppose I’d like Zoe’s story to remind people that friendship doesn’t always look a certain way and maybe address how ridiculous it is that people who aren’t very sociable are kind of made to feel like failures that they’re not visibly “friended.” I wasted too many tears crying over this when I was in high school.
6. Do you have any future writing projects in the works?
I am currently working on the sequel...
7. What are some of your favorite YA novels?
I’m going to try to get artsy on you and name some classic oldies: What Maisie Knew (Henry James), The Go-Between (LP Hartley), and Absolute Beginners (Colin MacInnes). These three writers really capture that twilight time when you’re still innocent like a kid but you’re being exposed to hardcore adult problems (like divorce, adultery, and crime). How they depict the confusion and half-understanding of their protagonists is...well, so good that they make me want to give up.
8. Are you a Marshmallows? If so, Team Logan to Team Piz?
I feel like although I’m an adult who gets annual physicals and worries about saving money for retirement (ergo Team Piz), I’m also still the sixteen year-old me who would be all over Logan and his explosive temper and problematic chivalry. I guess I’d say I’m both Team Logan and Team Piz. If people knew my husband, they’d realize this is not a cop-out because he really does have both Logan qualities (he drives with a lead foot, can have bouts of road rage, and goes into a holy fury when he sees people being racist to me) and Piz qualities (has excellent toilet seat manners, takes my non-English speaking grandma to doctor’s appointments, and is the kindest and most nurturing dad). I am a lot luckier than VMars, that’s for sure. I don’t have to choose.