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As I state in my author's note BALLADS OF SUBURBIA is a work of fiction, but Oak Park, Illinois, is real place. I did grow up there around the same time as my characters, but the story and all the people in it were born in my imagination.

Yes, of course, I'm nervous that people will think Kara is me, but I'm sure there are people out there who think Emily from I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE is me since that book is written in first person. All I can do is say that though Kara might share some of the feelings and confusion I had when I was high school, we did not share all the same experiences. This book is not autobiographical; I'm saving that stuff for a memoir ;).

Why did I write about a real place? Because I love reading about the Chicago area during different eras and wanted to capture my corner of Chicagoland in the era I came of age in, the early nineties. The landscape is forever changing: the car spindle in Berwyn is gone, Ambrosia’s has long-since closed, the Fireside Bowl doesn’t hold punk shows anymore, and even Scoville Park looks different. But now these places will always exist the way I remember them in this book.

The cover of BALLADS OF SUBURBIA, as cool as it is, is not the real Scoville Park. So I wanted to take the opportunity to show you some of the real places mentioned in the book.

This is the real Oak Park:




Here is the real Scoville Park:





This is the statue where the skaters in the book hang (thanks to real life teen couple Nara Bopp and John Value for posing in my picture):



You can also learn about the history of the park and see more pictures including a panoramic view here.

Lastly, here I am posed in front of the Fireside Bowl in Chicago where my characters (and me in real life) went to see punk shows.