It is launch week for my friend and agency mate Elly Swartz’s FINDING PERFECT. I was lucky enough to read an advanced reader copy of this book and I LOVED IT. This book is one of those books that is going to be life changing for some kids. Elly’s main character Molly is in middle school and dealing with worsening symptoms of OCD. The book is sweet and funny and truly sensitive to Molly’s situation. I know it’s going to be a lifechanging book that helps some kids understand themselves better and others to be more compassionate. To commemorate the launch of this special book I asked other Emu’s about books that changed their perspectives when they young.
As a kid, Debbi Michiko Florence loved reading – from Charlotte’s Web to the witch books by Ruth Chew and Judy Blume as well. When she was in 5th or 6th grade she came across FAREWELL TO MANZANAR by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, about Jeanne’s experience being interned as a Japanese-American during WWII. It was the first she’d heard about this event. This led to ask questions and she learned from her dad that he and his family had been interned. Debbi said, “It was the first book I’d read that was about and by a Japanese-American. While it was a story that saddened me, it also made me feel connected, gave me a sense of my own history. Until I had a Japanese-American teacher in 4th grade who set me straight, I actually believed my ancestors came over on the Mayflower, because that’s the way we were taught in elementary school back then. I was grateful then as I am now for Jeanne’s honest and heart-breaking portrayal of life in the internment camp, but also for the strength of those who tried to make the best of a horrible situation.” Debbie recently bought the book for her college-age daughter.
Andrea Y. Wang told me that even though Anne Shirley was nothing like her on the surface, reading about her in the ANNE OF GREEN GABLES books made her feel less alone and more hopeful. Anne was an outsider who was often teased by her peers, yet she had an inner strength that Andrea admired and tried to emulate. “Anne showed me that all I needed was one or two kindred spirits and I would be fine.” I felt the same way!
For me Madeline L’Engle’s WRINKLE IN TIME was hugely important. Meg Wallace showed me a character that felt like I felt – awkward and different from all the other kids I knew, but in the end resourceful and strong, partly because of those differences. I think that’s why both these books have lasted through the decades.
Like Debbi’s experience with FAREWELL TO MANZANAR, I’m sure FINDING PERFECT will inspire empathy and understanding and Molly will bring solace and inner strength to the many kids who see themselves in her. We are thrilled and proud to send FINDING PERFECT on its way!
Darcey Rosenblatt’s debut novel will be published by Henry Holt/MacMillan in August 2017. LOST BOYS, an historic fiction, tells the story of a 12-year old Iranian boy sent to fight in the Iran Iraq war in 1982. With her critique group she runs the Better Books Workshop – an annual small deep craft conference held in Northern California. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her fabulous husband and perfect daughter, some fish, a cat and the best dog in the world. By day she is an environmental planner and when time permits she paints and costumes for a 5-8 year old theater.