For Love of Contemporary

When I was growing up, my favorite book was WALK TWO MOONS by Sharon Creech. I can tell, by my memories of the book, that I didn’t truly understand all the intricacies of the story at the tender age of nine. And yet, something about it touched me so deeply and profoundly that I have always listed it in my top five favorite books.

There’s something special about Middle Grade literature, and even more so contemporary Middle Grade. There is this huge, enormous potential for empathy of characters in all sorts of situations, and yet, still an understanding, really, a necessity, for good to still win out in some way. Perhaps not a perfectly happy ending, but a hopeful one that leaves the reader with a greater understanding of the world around them as well as a greater ability to see the light and the good and the beautiful.

Harry Potter is wonderful. And I adored ELLA ENCHANTED. Every kid dreams of magic and flying and monsters, and all those fun things are part of Middle Grade lit too. And I have to hand it to the people who write fantasy, it’s not easy. World Building is hard. You people have amazing imaginations.

But I wanted to take a minute here to thank those authors who have made me pause at the beauty of the contemporary. The normal. The every day exquisiteness of the people and moments around us. The drama of those small, quiet choices that make all the difference.

Those moments may not come with explosions or magic words or portals to another world. But these moments are powerful. That decision to put down the bottle comes with it’s own war zone. The moment a new friendship is realized and opens up a whole new way of looking at the world. The right words spoken to a broken heart, can be more powerful than any spell.

These authors I love and respect take the turning point moments of our lives, letting go of what is no longer yours, jumping into the unknown, pouring your whole heart into something only to see it fail,and they turn them into works of art.

They fill the world with hope. Hope sprinkled into the little moments. The normal. The every day.

I’ve never lost a loved one to Avada Kedavra, but I’ve had my very last interaction with my best friend be negative, before she died. I’ll never be in a final battle between good and evil, but I can choose kind. I’ll never go on a journey to rescue treasure from dragons, but I’ve learned how to walk two moons in somebody else’s moccasins. And so, to all you writers of contemporary Middle Grade. Thank you. Thank you for instilling reverence, awe, joy, and most of all, hope, in your readers, by tucking all of that and more into everyday moments, and creating empathy, compassion and understanding.

You are my heroes, and I want to be you when I grow up.

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