Now that summer's over, I can tell you it wasn't the happiest of seasons.
For the past ten years, I worked in the Children's Department of Chester County Book & Music Company.
|(Taken in September 2010)|
A lovely young woman named Suzanne hired me and trained me (in fact, I was the only one there all these years who was hired and trained by her). Everything I know about bookselling, I learned from this wise and funny gal. She left the bookstore in 2003 to move on in her career, even owning her own store at one point. I had dinner with her in Portland, Maine, where she was then working, in 2007. Years went by and we lost touch.
|Suzanne and me in 2007|
In mid-June of this year, I learned that she had passed away suddenly, senselessly, tragically, at the age of 39. The family had a private funeral and promised a memorial service in Pennsylvania at a later date.
Then in mid-July bookstore employees, followed quickly by the public, learned that the bookstore has been operating on a month-to-month lease since January. A fitness center is interested in the space and it's only a question of time before the deal is completed and the bookstore will then close.
These two seemingly disparate events combined in my mind to make this a difficult summer. I learned that some people in authority will stoop to nefarious means to find out what people said on their facebook page. I learned who my friends were ( You know the ones who ask how your vacation was? Those are your friends).
I realized that life is too short and what I really want to do is write for kids.
So that's what I'm doing. And yes, I am blessed to be able to afford to do this. I gave notice at the bookstore and timed it so that my last day was Friday, September 14. The next day was the memorial service for Suzanne. It seemed entirely fitting to me that my career as a bookseller should both begin and end with Suzanne. Rest in peace, dear friend.
* * * * * *
What will I miss about the bookstore?
I will miss meeting people who love children's books. I will miss recommending books to my favorite customers and talking about books with enthusiastic book lovers. Luckily, I can still do that with this blog! I will miss unlimited advanced reading copies at my fingertips.
I will miss this:
|(But I can still meet wonderful authors like Richard Peck at book signings anywhere)|
I will miss this:
What won't I miss?
I definitely won't miss this:
|Yes, we were still using DOS computers|
|The ceiling leaked when it rained|
I won't miss selling toys. I won't miss shrieking toddlers. I won't miss checking the public restrooms at closing time. And I won't miss working every Saturday for ten years. I won't miss that at all!
I'm now self-employed and loving it. I figured the blog needed a facelift, so that's why it looks different. And next week I'll be having a giveaway to celebrate my new status!
* * * * *Now for today's MMGM. Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger. For other participants, see my sidebar. I think my friend Suzanne would have enjoyed this book about family and friendships and one summer of self-discovery for a sensitive girl.
True Colors by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock (Coming November 13 from Knopf, for ages 8 to 12)
Source: advanced reading copy from publisher
Synopsis (from Indiebound): One girl's journey to find the mother she never had, set against the period backdrop of a small farming town in 1950s Vermont. For her entire life, 10-year-old Blue has never known her mother. On a cold, wintry day in December of 1941, she was found wrapped in a quilt, stuffed in a kettle near the home of Hannah Spooner, an older townswoman known for her generosity and caring. Life with Hannah so far has been simple—mornings spent milking cows, afternoons spent gardening and plowing the fields on their farm. But Blue finds it hard not to daydream about her mother, and over the course of one summer, she resolves to finally find out who she is. That means looking through the back issues of the local newspaper, questioning the local townspeople, and searching for clues wherever she can find them. Her search will change her life forever.
Why I liked it: This beautifully-written novel is a true middle-grade in the purest sense. There's not a lick of romance. Instead there's adventure and mystery. There are fascinating characters. And historical fiction fans will love this -- it's the summer of 1952, a time period not often treated in children's literature. It's also one of those quiet books I'm so fond of (see this post about another). The synopsis doesn't tell you that an important part of the book is Blue's friendship with Nadine or that Nadine has trials of her own. It doesn't mention Raleigh, a man who suffered a brain trauma and now can only say a few words. And it doesn't mention Mr. Gilpin, the newspaper editor, who offers Blue her first paying job. Along with Hannah, all these people are important to Blue, for varying reasons. The only drawback is that this book won't be published until November! So add it to your TBR lists.
Natalie Kinsey-Warnock is the author of The Canada Geese Quilt, Gifts From the Sea and many other wonderful books. Her website seems to be under construction, but this link should work.
Thanks for sticking with me. What middle-grade books are you looking forward to?