Sunday, June 20, 2010
Deborah Wiles' amazing new middle-grade novel about the 60s, her first in a planned trilogy about the decade, is in my hands, and my book review was just published in The Christian Science Monitor. I've grown quite fond of the narrator, Franny. What a totally appealing 11-year-old! I hate to leave her and wonder if she'll make her appearance in the next two books. Somehow, I'm not so sure.
At the heart of this story is the Cuban Missile Crisis. On this topic, I've consulted my siblings, my best friends, anybody I can think of who was in school in Cleveland, Mississippi, with me at the time. We just don't have the memory for the event that Wiles writes about, although many of my contemporaries who lived in other places sure do. Maybe the Mississippi Delta was too isolated to consider itself a target.
But Deborah Wiles has done such a remarkable job of recreating a summer in one family's life, how these historic events touched them, that I feel like I was there ducking and covering, worrying about whether the world was about to blow up. When in fact, I was oblivious. How about you?
Wiles has written so wisely in her blog about the creation of this trilogy-in-progress. I heard her speak a few years ago about Hang the Moon, the next novel in the series, how hard it was to write. I love what she says about that upcoming book:
It was larger than my talent -- and my skills -- when I discovered it.
And how she finally had to trust her own instincts, give up on help, and just write:
And what I have learned in the intervening years is that there is a time to move beyond your teachers and take up your unique voice. It's a little like leaving home. It's a starting-over. You take what works and leave the rest.
I truly understand what she means.