UPDATE: the winners for this giveaway are Susan Coster and Sandy Nawrot. They have been notified by email. Thanks to everyone who entered! And don’t forget to visit again soon.
Those of you reading CALLING ME HOME this month will understand the symbolism of the thimble. But Julie decided she didn’t just want you to read about it, she wanted to share one with you. Which is why she’s giving away two of these thimble necklaces today. One for a reader and one for a member of our Blog Network. All Blog Network members are automatically entered. And any readers who would like to toss their name in the hat can simply leave a comment on this post.
The first word I clearly remember reading on my own, without prodding from an adult, my fingers running across each letter, was Heidi — the title on the colorful cardboard sleeve of a read-aloud record album. I must have read other words before that. I was four or five, and I was an early reader, but for some reason, that experience remains vivid and fills me with nostalgia and the memory of listening to the story.
This doesn’t surprise me. Throughout my childhood, I was drawn to nostalgic stories about girls who were marginalized but remained or became strong. I was a painfully shy, often lonely girl. We moved a lot. I attended seven different schools. We never seemed to have quite enough money to make ends meet, and my brother and I were frequently ridiculed or bullied by the kids who had lived in our neighborhoods their whole lives. Being a preacher’s daughter often made things worse. Strong female characters who chased their dreams in spite of seemingly insurmountable barriers resonated with me. I lived vicariously through my fictional friends when my own life felt out of control.
They were orphans — Heidi, Pollyanna, Anne Shirley, Sara Crewe, Mary Lennox, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase‘s Sylvia Green.
They were poor and/or living on the edges of society — Laura Ingalls Wilder, Francie Nolan, Anne Frank, The Borrowers’ Arietty Clock, Blue Willow‘s Janey Larkin, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March.
They were just plain different — Cress Delehanty, Velvet Brown, Ramona the Pest, Caddie Woodlawn.
Or they were all three — Pippi Longstocking.
I grew up, married, and had babies. I divorced and lived five years as a single mom before remarrying. Now I’m following a career path I dreamed about for as long as I can remember—author.
And I’m not a bit surprised that I’m drawn to writing nostalgic stories about characters who are marginalized, yet resilient, characters who attempt to build happy lives and strong families in spite of their circumstances. In Calling Me Home, Isabelle is a young girl who falls in love despite all the naysayers. Dorrie is a single mom who would do anything for her children when they’re in trouble, yet believes she must handle her brokenness alone.
In spite of our differences, I am all of them. And they are me.
What characters did you relate to as a child? What characters did you want to be?