About the Book
Book: If You Really Knew Me
Author: Alison Cheah
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Release date: December, 2021
Tommy is glad of friendships which make him forget the situation at home. His father’s illness makes his behavior so unpredictable that the whole family must tip-toe around him for fear of becoming the butt of his anger.
Elise wishes her twin sister didn’t think being champion swimmers was an adequate goal for their lives. She has her own dreams to fulfil.
Carrie hides a secret, avoiding other students so nobody will ever find it out. But Tommy and Elise both look to Carrie to save them from their situations.
Until she disappears.
Tommy’s protective instinct kicks in, and Elise reassesses her priorities so she can help keep Carrie safe.
Click here to get your copy!
About the Author
Alison Cheah worked at Youth for Christ for five years and volunteers with her church youth group. One of her favorite activities is preparing Bible Studies and seeking how to connect the stories of the Bible with her students’ own stories.
As a child she was always to be seen with her nose in a book, and nothing has changed. One of her favorite authors was Patricia St. John. Her characters are people you want to know, and you are rooting for them to overcome their problems, but for Alison, the added dimension was that each person discovers their answers in Jesus. She saw that the faith she had grown up with had applicability in real life.
Her prayer is that this story has the same result for you.
More from Alison
I spent five years working at Youth for Christ with middle school students like Tommy, Carrie, and Elise. They are not based on kids I met, but they are inspired by my experiences then.
My friend and mentor in youth ministry was Anna-Marie Valles who is also a character in Tommy, Carrie and Elise’s story helping them to make sense of some of the questions they have.
We don’t get to know her well in the book, but I had a chat with her recently about youth ministry and here is an extract from that conversation. I think you will enjoy getting to know her better.
Alison: In the story, Elise shares her problems with you. Do you find teens want to talk to an adult about their problems?
AMV: Kids are hungry to be able to unload their stories on people who are willing to listen. I remember in one club a student said that all day, adults were telling him what to do. But club was a space where people were asking him, “How are you feeling? “What are your thoughts on this?” He was shocked.
Alison: You were only eighteen when you started in youth ministry. After all these years, how do you stay current so kids still want to talk with you?
AMV: If you come to kids with a willingness to learn, you become relevant. Say to them, “Tell me what’s going on?” Don’t pretend you have all the answers. I find that has worked for me. “I don’t know your culture like you do. But I’m willing to see through your lens if you’re able to share that with me.”
Age is interesting. I always worried I would age out. At my application interview for seminary I said, “I always thought if I aged out of youth ministry, I’d be a chaplain.” And the professor called me out on that. You never age out because kids still need that safe place where someone is willing to listen.
Alison: The profits from this book will be used to send kids to camp. Why is this important to you?
AMV: Youth ministry is all relational. But trust can take a while to build. The beauty of camps is that you can create a bond in one week that could take two years without.
And at camp they hear the gospel presented in different ways by different speakers. Other people’s creativity and presentation may reach my students in a way that I haven’t been able to.
What saddens me is not everyone can go because camps are costly. My desire is that every student who wants to go will have the opportunity to do so.
For more of this conversation, see alisonrcheah.com
(Interview transcribed by https://otter.ai )
My prayer is that the story of Tommy, Carrie and Elise will be one of those different speakers Anna-Marie talked about, helping kids to begin their own relationship with Jesus.
Mindy’s Q&A with Alison
What does success as an author look like to you?
My goal as I write is to create stories that engage middle grade readers and at the same time show them that because Jesus loves them, living with him as the center of their lives makes complete sense and will bring the best of all possible outcomes. If I can help some readers to become lifelong followers of Jesus, I will be successful.
Which character did you connect to best in this book?
Tommy, who is mischievous and full of fun. He’s the sort of friend you’d want because you know he’ll always have your back. I love the way he stands up for his brother Mikey, and then takes on responsibility for Carrie, too. At the end he even begins to understand his own father. But it’s a heavy burden for him because when things go wrong, he blames himself. I’m glad that in the end he finds that God has his back.
Which part of the book was the most difficult to write?
It was a new challenge to write a boy character. I wanted to make sure I was giving him a truly masculine perspective.
Tommy’s relationship with his dad required special handling. At first, Dad was too abusive, and my editor pointed out that I couldn’t leave Tommy in an abusive relationship and not address the issue. I took some time to get to know his dad better and when I learned about his own strict upbringing and the chronic illness he suffered from, I understood why he treated Tommy and Mikey the way he did.
One of my favorite things about writing is that when I’m stuck, I pray for God to show me the way. It awes me when he gives me ideas to lead me out of the labyrinth I’ve written myself into.
Which author influenced you the most?
When I was a child, Patricia St. John was the leading name in children’s Christian fiction in England. I loved her books and still return to them. Her characters learn to love Jesus and discover that he has answers to the problems they are coping with.
Growing up in a Christian home, these books helped me move beyond Sunday School answers and showed me that knowing Jesus was not boring but gave me guidance for living in the real world.
If you could have one book or piece of art or music on a deserted island, what would it be and why?
Many years ago, England had a weekly radio program called Desert Island Discs. Each week, they interviewed a different celebrity and asked them to choose the ten music recordings they would want to have with them if they were marooned on a desert island. The final question was, And one book besides Shakespeare and the Bible? I suppose they considered that these were books that all English people at that time would have had on their shelves as a matter of course. So, I’m going to answer this question as though having the Bible with me was a given. But as my knowledge of Shakespeare is not as good as that of my predecessors, I will choose for my one volume The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. In between learning how to crack a coconut without losing all the life-giving water and constructing a shelter to keep off the worst of the tropical rainfall, I’ll spend hours becoming better acquainted with England’s greatest playwright.
Thank you, Alison, for letting us get to know you better!
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 13
Locks, Hooks and Books, May 14
Texas Book-aholic, May 15
Beauty in the Binding, May 16 (Author Interview)
Blogging With Carol, May 16
For Him and My Family, May 17
Inklings and notions, May 18
Blossoms and Blessings, May 19 (Author Interview)
deb’s Book Review, May 20
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, May 21
Simple Harvest Reads, May 23 (Author Interview)
Vicarious Living , May 23
Library Lady’s Kid Lit, May 24
Guild Master, May 26 (Author Interview)
To celebrate her tour, Alison is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.