by KB Meniado
If you’re looking to add to your list of YA Novels That Will Make You Cry, the latest #romanceclassFlicker release Raya and Grayson’s Guide to Saving the World might just be your missing candidate. This tearjerker will either make you shed out of joy (comic book love rep!) or out of heartbreak (grief!) or, let’s be honest, both. But the pain won’t be in vain because our two geeks Raya and Grayson take us on a heck of an adventure of fixing broken hearts, rebuilding dreams, accepting great losses, and choosing priorities. This is a story with the promises and perils of love, life and hope, and it shows how you can be a superhero to the world and to your self. Cry in celebration if you must, but do scroll down to check out an interview with this book’s creator!
“If I don’t break your heart, the world is going to end.”
When Grayson posts about his girlfriend breaking up with him with that line in an anonymous “Breakup Confessions” thread, Raya recognizes the references and knows that it’s him.
Raya has been dealing with a deeply personal loss, with only her comic books to give her quiet comfort. But thanks to her forum-lurking, she now knows that the guy she’s been crushing on for years is single again. What’s that called, when she might actually have a chance with him but senior high school just ended and they’re heading off on separate paths forever and ever? It’s called a long shot. Right. Only heroes take a risk with those odds and still win.
But when Grayson walks into the hobby shop she works for and asks Raya for a comic book recommendation, Raya realizes that superheroes can come in all shapes and sizes. And as they bond over the summer on all things caped and geeky, Raya discovers that maybe—just maybe—she deserves a chance at a super-powered love story of her own.
*Content warnings for readers: grief, off-page death of a parent, accidental death of young person told in flashback, cancer, illness of elderly person, characters kissing and considering having sex. Read reviews: Goodreads / Get a copy: Amazon, #romanceclassbooks
Catherine Dellosa Lo is a freelance writer by day and a geek by night. She constantly struggles between sniffing the novels lined up in her bookshelf and trying to whip up something unusual in the kitchen, much to the dismay of her loving husband. To this day, she still has not cooked a decent meal. She one day hopes to soar the skies as a superhero, but for now, she strongly believes in saving lives through her works in fiction.
Hi, Catherine! Congratulations on Raya and Grayson’s Guide to Saving the World! Thanks for taking the time for this. We must first talk about your love for comic books and superheroes, of course. What is it about them that you enjoy the most?
Ironically, the writing more than the art! I love them both but it’s the good writing that gets to me. What makes comic books appealing to me is that at the end of the day, the supposedly all-powerful superheroes are flawed and just very, very human. The psychology of the characters never ceases to amaze me. For instance, I could just go on and on about what makes Batman such an interesting persona, so please stop me!
Okay, okay. STOP. Haha! Aside from Batman, what other faves will we find in your bag if we looked right now?
Wow, there are too many to mention! Off the top of my head, they would be Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer, Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader by Neil Gaiman and Watchmen by Alan Moore.
Comic book enthusiasts, take note! Your book is a heavier book compared to the earlier #romanceclassFlicker releases. In this story, both Raya and Grayson deal with grief and serious illness respectively. How difficult was it to write about these in a teen romance?
I mentioned this a bit in my Acknowledgments Page, but the parts about grief were indeed difficult to write. I had to take a breather every so often and stop writing so that I wouldn’t get overwhelmed.
Some people think that YA shouldn’t talk about the heavy stuff so much, but the youth—especially the youth—are already exposed to a lot of these issues, and are even going through these supposedly heavy things themselves. Despite the tough topics, I knew I wanted to write about grief and recovery because young people need to understand that it’s okay to feel these things and that they’re not alone. As authors, I think we shouldn’t shield them from the hardships of this life, and more importantly, we should make them believe that no matter how bleak things may seem, there is always hope. HEAs required, after all! 🙂
There are more geeky references in this book than I could keep up with, but the mention of the Bible in one of Raya’s blog posts stood out to me. What was its importance, and why did you use it instead of another comic book?
“Everything always ends. Was it Ecclesiastes? Even the Bible says that everything is meaningless, that we work and we toil and the sun comes up and goes down and nothing is ever fulfilled, everything is pointless, everything ends. I’ve always known that. And I’ve always been ready.”
I’m a bit surprised that that’s the quote that stood out to you most! You’re right that it might have been easier to use a comic book reference there, especially since Raya posted that in a comic book forum, but I figured that we’re in a Catholic country and the Bible is always around. Raya quoting that verse and seeing only the negative aspects of it (and, essentially, taking it out of context and misinterpreting the verse) is just a reflection of how negative she can be, how self-sabotaging her mindset is, at the time and during times when she feels like she doesn’t deserve happiness. She uses THE Book to drive the point home that “everything is meaningless,” almost as if daring anyone to protest.
It was never explicitly mentioned, but I’m pretty sure that by the end of the book, she and the readers [sic] are going to see that Ecclesiastes verse in a whole new light.
Indeed. I can attest to that! Speaking of light, the family aspect shines in this story. Both Raya and Grayson are surrounded by great emotional support from their guardians and other members. What inspired this?
This is actually a personal struggle! But as an author, I’ve been told—shout-out to my amazing editor, Chris Mariano—that all too often, I fall into the “Disney trap” of removing parents from the picture to allow the YA character to grow. So, I’ve been trying my best to change that in my current and upcoming WIPs. I want to create supportive family dynamics, especially in a very family-oriented country like the Philippines.
In my book, support from the family must be front and center in order for anyone to move on from grief, especially for teenagers. It shouldn’t be all about just having a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Emotional support should come from the teen’s whole social circle, and family—no matter how unconventional—is key.
Well put! Now, for a bit of fun and to stay in theme: Who are you as a superhero, and what is in your own Guide to Saving the World?
What kind of awesome question is this? It’s so darn good but it’s so darn difficult. Hahaha! Hmm, let’s see. I wouldn’t really have any special superpower as a superhero, but in the #romanceclass personal branding seminar, I was told one of my strengths is being a very positive person? So I’d probably go around spreading Rays of Positivity to random passers-by or something. LOL!
Here’s Cat’s Guide to Saving the World, for whatever good that’ll do (haha):
- Notice the little things, and look forward to them. That pretty desktop wallpaper you just set for your laptop as you begin work each day. The ripest banana you’ve been meaning to bite into during your break. The smell of hot coffee or tea in the afternoon. That hilarious GIF your BFF sent you just as you’re stressing about a deadline. Taking a long hot shower at the end of the day. These little things make each day bright and beautiful, and when each day is bright and beautiful, you make the world bright and beautiful too.
- That thing you love doing? Just do it. You don’t have to give up your whole career for it, because those bills won’t pay themselves. But set aside even just a little bit of time each day to do what you love to do. An hour of painting or singing or being able to flip bottles really, really well to make all the kids laugh is a definite save-the-world feat.
- Be thankful. Whatever your religion may be, just be thankful. ☁️