Sep 16, 2012

Writing that matters

pub. date: Nov. 12
This weekend, I dove into a stupendous ARC called ENDANGERED, by Eliot Schrefer. It's about a young woman who...well, here's the blurb:

The Congo is a dangerous place, even for people who are trying to do good.
When one girl has to follow her mother to her sancuary for bonobos, she's not thrilled to be there. It's her mother's passion, and she'd rather have nothing to do with it. But when revolution breaks out and their sanctuary is attacked, she must rescue the bonobos and hide in the jungle. Together, they will fight to keep safe, to eat, and to survive.

I LOVED this book. Not just because Eliot's writing is fantabulous but the setting is so rich, so different from my daily life and the lives of most Americans. The conflict is rooted in reality. It stands out in a YA field full of fantasy-drenched, royal-chosen-one MCs, wizards-that-rule-badly with zero basis in reality.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy those flashy debuts with the jewel tone covers. Books like that make me think of blown glass Christmas ornaments, all snazzy and sparkly and glittery. They beckon me to indulge in a world entirely of a talented author's making.

But they're not real. And while it's great to escape occasionally, I don't want to escape all the time. There are plenty of amazing, gut-wrenching stories happening right outside my door. Stories of redemption and love, of hatred and betrayal, of faith and perseverance. Stories based in reality that inspire us - and our readers - to pay more attention, become educated, get involved where we can.

  • Katie Davis was eighteen years old  when she visited Uganda for the first time. Shocked by the devastation caused by AIDS, she started an orphanage. She's adopted thirteen (13!) daughters. And she wrote a book called Kisses from Katie. She did all this before she turned 22.
  • Four years ago, a group of middle school girls banded together to create One is Greater than None. Inspired by an Oprah show about Ghanese kids being sold for $20, they made it their goal to sponsor, provide medical supplies and raise awareness of this tragedy.
  • Winter Vinecki was nine when her dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. She launched a noprofit to help her raise money for prostate research, eventually netting more than $100,000. Her dad died; she continues to use social media to attract athletes to Team Winter by competing in triathlons and races. Last year, athletes on her team raised $250,000.
  • The family who lives with the threat of polycystic kidney disease, which is so embedded in their DNA, their ancestry is studded with early deaths. A genetic test can either free them, or signal a life complicated by medical issues.

As writers, it should be part of our mission to tell stories like these because they've got all the elements of great fiction: tension, conflict, life-or-death choices, character development. I'm challenging myself to use what tiny talent I have to construct more than fairy tales. To seek out the truth. To write stories that impact and reflect the real world.

Have a great week.


Lisa Regan said...

I could not agree more! Inspiring stuff. Thanks for the recommendation!

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

That book sounds awesome. And I can't wait to see your realistic books in print some day soon, too, Melodie. It sounds like you and Eliot have a lot in common. :D

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Stories like that are very humbling.

Carrie Butler said...

Wow. It sounds like a great read!