I walk every day, and am fortunate to live across the road from Paper Mill Lake. Some photos from a magical walk: crisp new snow and blue skies, and yep, my fingers were cold and the camera battery ran out of juice all too soon!
I am an elementary teacher librarian in Ontario. This weekend I brought home 4 Red Maple books to read. I read Home Truths in a day and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was pretty sure that I would, given that I had read Travis and Prinny’s stories in other years and enjoyed them. The students at my school really like your books and since they were younger when they read those first novels, it is excellent timing that Brick’s story is aimed at Gr 7 and 8. I was surprised at first that Brick and his sister didn’t get out of their situation in the end but having thought about it now I realize that this was probably a more realistic ending. It also provided a solution for those kids who might find themselves in such an abusive situation. Brick knows that he can’t leave his sister with his parents so he finds a way to stop the abuse instead. He also finds good people that he can rely on and who will support him if and when he decides to go to the police. I also liked how he realized he was a bully and I hope that any students reading it who had bullying tendancies would also see themselves in the book (and change their ways).
I read through your website and noticed you were working on a free verse book. I can tell you that many of my students really like this type of book. A book called Libertad was a favourite among them a few years ago. The topic was one that they never would have picked up had it been a regular novel – 2 brothers’ journey through Central America – but I think the format appealed to some of the weaker readers. And of course, once they realized they could read it, they enjoyed an interesting story and learned something too.
Anyway, I look forward to your next book and I will be strongly encouraging my Gr. 7s and 8s to read Home Truths. Thank you for these well written stories.
First, my apologies for not answering sooner. I was out west for three weeks, then buried myself in revisions of book #4, and then a good friend got sick – ordinary living, in other words. It does have a habit of overtaking me!
Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments on “Home Truths.”
A few students have also commented about the ending – wanting to know if Brick and Cassie left home together. Because family violence is a very real situation for too many young people, I didn’t want to tie up the loose ends of the novel too easily – it would dishonour the seriousness and the reality of their situation. Similarly, I also tried not to make Brick’s progress in karate unrealistically fast. So you and I are on the same wavelength here.
Oh, the free verse novel. I had no idea how difficult it would be! I’m really struggling with it, far more so than with the other three books – some of this may not be the form so much as the content, which is perhaps a little too close to me in an autobiographical sense. I’m getting good feedback on it, and hope to send it out to a publisher in the next month or so.
I too read Libertad – Alma Fullerton also wrote “Burn” – also in free verse. And there’s Pamela Porter’s “Crazy Man.” And Virginia Euwer Wolff’s “Make Lemonade.” And Karen Hesse’s “Out of the Dust” (these last two titles for grades 7 and up) – I could go on. So wish me luck, please!
Thank you for encouraging your students to read “Home Truths.”
I’m off to the Red Maple in Toronto and Ottawa early in May – for this book. So that’ll be fun.
With all good wishes,
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Jill MacLean's book Nix Minus One , published by Pajama Press and now available in bookstores!
Nix Minus One is geared for readers in Grade 7-8 and up.
Published February 15, 2013
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