Pretty Little Indies: Kai Strand

This week's Pretty Little Indie is Kai Strand! Stick around for my reviews of her amazing YA novellas addressing homeless youth.

1. Describe Worth the Effort in one word.

2. What inspired you to write about a homeless youth?
The county I live in has the sixth largest homeless population in the United States (crazy, since I think I live in the boondocks.) Homelessness is often misunderstood in the first place, but I really believe most people (especially teens and young adults) aren’t even aware of the underage homeless population. I wanted to not only make readers think, “Wait…really?” but also to let people know it isn’t only drugs and poverty that sends people to the streets. Though Ayden’s situation might be rare, it isn’t unheard of, and there are so many other factors that land people on the streets, or have them couch surfing, as well.

3. How similar are you and Ella?
Not at all. I borrowed some traits from my daughters to form Ella. They are both very self-possessed and grounded. However, Ella is pretty much uniquely herself, and she’s very real to me. The fact she considers herself a coward and that continually inspires her to do more is a trait I consider hers alone.

4. Which part of Worth the Effort was your favorite to write?
The romantic spots, of course. Ella is so surprised to find appealing qualities in the boy she was originally terrified of and then to have her heart melt for him…that was super fun to develop. And Ayden! That boy makes me *le sigh*. He spends most of his time inside his own head, so he’s a really good thinker and I love what he thinks about Ella.

5. Dog-eared pages or bookmarks?
Bookmarks. In middle school I went through a phase when I thought dog-earing was super cool and I’ve been paying homage to the book gods ever since. Of course, I have a million legitimate bookmarks around the house, but usually end up sticking a receipt into my book. I’m fully convinced there is a bookmark monster under my couch.

6. What's next for you, Kai? Any new projects or releases?
I have a brand new middle grade book out this month, The Lumpy Duckling. It’s the third (standalone) book in my Weaver Tale series. This one is about friendship and I really, really love writing about friendship.

I’m putting the finishing touches on the third and final book in my Super Villain Academy series—tentatively called, Super Bad—before I send it off to my publisher. I’m so excited to get this one out there! I think this book is full of surprises and I really love the ending.

Worth the Effort: Ella's Story 
by Kai Strand
(Worth the Effort #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Ella Jones is a coward. There is a teen boy living in
the alley behind her work and she is terrified of him.

Desperate to leave behind the stereotypical and judgmental world she was raised in, Ella forces herself to make a true connection with seventeen-year-old Ayden Worth. As their friendship grows Ayden’s quiet, gentle ways teach her true courage.

But there’s more to Ayden’s story than Ella knows. When their worlds collide in the most unexpected place, Ella feels betrayed. Will she find the courage to learn who Ayden really is, or will she determine he’s not worth the effort?

WORTH THE EFFORT: Ella’s Story a young adult contemporary romance novella at 19,000 words.
  This is such a beautiful story that needed to be told. I'm so glad that Kai Strand decided to share Ella and Ayden's story. Homeless youth is a big problem in the US, but too often a blind eye is given to this plight. Kai Strand does a phenomenal job at capturing the raw reality of the issue.

  Though this is just a novella, I felt like Kai Strand really captured the essence of her characters. In just a short time, she was able to show the growth and development of Ella. I definitely recommend this emotional story to all fans of realistic Young Adult fiction. 

**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review with no compensation.

Worth the Effort: Ayden's Story
by Kai Strand
(Worth the Effort #2)

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Seventeen-year-old Ayden Worth shouldn’t have to
seek peace of mind in the streets. But as family
pressures mount, his anxieties increase, and he turns his back on comfort for a life in homeless camps and back alleys.

Then one fateful day he runs into the only person he ever wanted to know better. Ella Jones. His memories paint her as kind and undemanding, and it seems the years haven’t changed her. Her simple expectations draw him to her. Against all odds, a relationship buds and grows.

Yet, as Ayden repairs his life, Ella suggests he help others who also struggle. Will Ella turn out to be just like his dad, expecting more from him than he can give? Or will he prove that he is worth the effort?
  Wow. The emotion in this book surpasses the first, and I was blown away. This book is so much more than teen romance. It's about self-discovery and self-acceptance. It was a beautiful and encouraging story.

  At first, I was weary of reading this once since it's the same story as Ella's but told from Ayden's point of view. It didn't feel that way whenever I read Ayden's story, though. There is so much substance that you really get swept away and forget that it's a retelling. Again, I cannot recommend these two books by Kai Strand enough. They are deeply emotional, engaging, and wonderful.

**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review with no compensation.

Kai Strand writes fiction for kids and teens. Her debut novel, The Weaver, was an EPIC eBook Awards finalist. Her young adult title, King of Bad, soared to the publisher's #1 spot in its second month and stayed on the Top 5 Bestsellers list for eight months. She is a (very lucky) wife and the mother of four amazing kids. The most common sound in her household is laughter. The second most common is, "Do your dishes!" She and her family hike, geocache, and canoe in beautiful Central Oregon, where they call home. Learn more about Kai and her books by visiting her website:


  1. sounds like a great series! I will check it out

  2. Wonderful stories. I highly recommend them. They'll touch your hearts and you might shed a tear or two. I did.

    1. Yes! So touching. Glad to see another fan of Kai's here! :)


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