Literary First Love – Juliette Fay

Today’s post by the amazing Juliette Fay | @JulietteFay

Juliette Fay

I can’t remember learning to read. As I’ve watched each of my kids undertake to makes sense of all those lines and curves, I’ve thought, How could I not remember this? Twenty-six different letters, many with several different sounds, combinations making even more sounds …. Let’s be honest, it’s a lot to take on.

Maybe my memories of those struggles were eclipsed by reading itself, which, once I’d mastered it, was like being let loose in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. A good book felt as delicious as hot fudge sundae to me. But more than that, the characters helped me make sense of my own life, and opened wide the French doors to other worlds, so I could escape my life when it felt too nonsensical.

I loved The Boxcar Children. For those who are unfamiliar, it’s about a family whose parents die suddenly. The four kids decide that their grandfather, whom they’re supposed to go live with, is too mean, and they set off on their own. They find a boxcar in the woods, clean it out, scavenge old household items from a nearby dump and make it a home.

I loved that book in part because it was my aunt’s from childhood, and for some reason I thought I could only read it when I went to her house several hours away. Its appeal grew by the very fact of its limited availability. (I have no idea why it never occurred to me to get a copy from the local library, which was like a second home to me.)

While my own family was struggling with divorce—a fairly rare and shameful thing in our small New England town at the time—and its resulting financial crisis, The Boxcar Children offered perspective. These kids had no parents and no money. They relied strictly on hard work, ingenuity and cooperation. (Are there any life skills more critical these?) When one of them gets gravely ill, they have to make very hard decisions.

And yet I envied them also. Their relationships were straightforward, reliable, loving. They disagreed occasionally but never had screaming fights. No hair was ever pulled, which was the tactic of choice among my two sisters and me. The adults in the book were generally trustworthy, though it often took the kids several chapters to be sure.

The Boxcar Children gave me hope that, though my own young life often felt incomprehensible, good things could come. Happy surprises might await. In fact, they did, and I didn’t even have to go live in a boxcar for them to find me.

We’re giving away two signed copies of Juliette’s latest novel, THE SHORTEST WAY HOME. Just leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered to win.

Sean Doran has spent twenty years as a nurse in Third World war zones and natural disaster areas, fully embracing what he’d always felt was his life’s mission. But when burnout sets in, Sean is reluctantly drawn home to Belham, Massachusetts, the setting of Fay’s bestselling first novel, SHELTER ME. There he discovers that his steely aunt, dramatic sister and quirky nephew are having a little natural disaster of their own … and that the bonds of love and loyalty might just rewrite what he once thought he knew about his purpose in life.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is the author of THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS (2014), FLIGHT OF DREAMS (2016), and I WAS ANASTASIA (2018). Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her family.

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30 Responses to Literary First Love – Juliette Fay

  1. Gean October 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds like a book I would like – sign me up!

  2. Anita October 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Thank you so much Juliette for sharing this post!! I know I was early reader, and it was devastating to me when my own twin girls struggled so much when learning how to read. We later found them to have LD’s and while they are still not pleasure readers they are in college and doing very well! Adrienne loved The Boxcar Children!!
    I’m so excited about your new book!! I love reading and sharing books…it makes life so interesting m

  3. Jayne D. October 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    This sounds like a wonderful book. And when things are not going right, home is always open to take you back and make you feel safe again. I would love to read this book.

  4. Tammy October 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds interesting – I like that the main character is a male.

  5. rhonda October 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds wonderful.nice how we go home to heal.

  6. nancy reynolds October 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I loved your post today. I can’t remember a time I wasn’t reading, reading, reading. But I do remember I came to it “late” (about grade 3 or so). My mother despaired that i would ever love to read, but when I caught the reading but, I had to do a lot a catch up reading. But what fun it was and how I loved it – maybe all the more because I was a late bloomer as a reader. I would love to read your book. It sounds great. Maybe I’ll be a lucky winner, but even if I’m not, I’ll be getting it to read. Thanks for the chance towin a copy. It sounds great.

  7. Elisabeth October 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I am looking forward to reading Fay’s book! My kids were not big readers as kids either, BUT as adults they ARE! So, do not lose faith, you have planted the seeds and they will grow.

  8. Gayle October 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I loved reading the boxcar children books to our kids. Thanks for the reminder Juliette. Our grandkids will love them. I would love to read your new book, please enter me in your contest.

  9. Janet Estridge October 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    This book would be a “Good Read” for our patrons at my church library.
    Thanks for entering me in the book giveaway.

  10. Paula Dolin October 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds great – thanks SheReads for all the great book recommendations and the chance to win!

  11. Becky S October 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Home is where the heart is. Love books based on that old saying.

  12. Susan Coster October 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Please enter me to win this book!

  13. Carol Wong October 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Please enter me. I think she is a wonderful writer. I remember learning to read, my break through book was The Little Engine Who Could! By the time I got up the hill, I was a reader for life.

    My son’s teacher told me that my son’s teacher told me that he was struggling with reading. I decided to talk to him about it. He told me that he was sick of the first book because it was boring. I asked the teacher if she could try him on the second reading book and off he zoomed! Another reader for life,

  14. Tammi T. October 29, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I’m always looking for a good book to read.

  15. Kim Zweygardt October 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Thanks for this post! My mom loved The Boxcar Children for much the same reasons as you. Her parents divorced at a time when no one got divorced. I hadn’t thought about how appealing the stories would have been to her but your post helps me see why. I had a great childhood and my mom passed the love of the Boxcar Children onto me as I have passed it on to my daughter! Sometimes I still want to go live in a boxcar! Lol thx for sharing. I’d love to win your book!

  16. Katherine Jones October 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I love being introduced to new (to me) authors here at She Reads. Would enjoy giving this one a spin!

  17. Shannon Brown October 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Sounds awesome! A great book to curl up to on a cold and rainy day!!

  18. Susan G. October 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Thanks for another opportunity to win a great read! “The Shortest Way Home” sounds very interesting. Thanks Juliette! (I just met another Juliette 2 days ago at my daughter’s baby shower in California – she was 2! 🙂 )
    Susan G.

  19. Linda Anderson October 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I remember reading The Boxcar Children to my boys (28 and 30 now) and they loved them. I’m sure the books are still upstairs if I go look. Both my boys were early readers and are still avid readers today. Not a birthday or Christmas goes by but they have several books on their wish lists. It makes a mom proud!! Now my 20 month old grandson has a bookshelf just full of books and I’m sure he is going to be a book lover too.

  20. Susan October 29, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Sounds like a great read!

    I loved the Box Car Children series too.

  21. Cindy October 30, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds like yet another author that I’m going to love reading.

    Hope she knew that The Boxcar Children is a “big ‘ole series” and not just one book!

  22. Juliette Fay October 30, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I love reading all these comments — so interesting to hear early reading experiences. And I have to agree with Kim, who said some days she’d still like to go live in a boxcar — me too!

  23. Norma Beishir October 30, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I used to travel a lot. I loved seeing the world, but I was always so happy to be home.

    Love reading about fellow authors’ reading experiences. I started reading at age 3. Mom said I learned from TV.

  24. Darla October 30, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Oh thanks for the wonderful memory! I LOVED the Boxcar Children series. Along with Black Beauty, Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew 🙂 And I can’t really remember a time when I couldn’t read. I always enjoy hearing what other ‘book nerds’ love reading…then and now!

  25. Sherry October 30, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    My first recollection of learning to read was in 1st grade. My teacher made a caterpillar body piece for eac book you read. My bug stretched from one end of the room to the other.

  26. Sherry October 30, 2012 at 10:17 pm #


  27. Louise Jolly October 30, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    ‘The Shortest Way Home’ sounds like a very intriguing read. Please enter me in the draw, even if I don’t win, I’ll just order the book from Chapters!


  28. Laura Kay October 31, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    What a great post! Both my older kids were very avid readers (my oldest son still is), my teenage daughter–well is feeling the stress of all the reading for school and not enjoying reading in general much, which I find frustrating.

    Now my youngest son (he’s 5) is learning to read. When he first started and we talked about it ( I told him how exciting it was to read) he wasn’t very interested. Now he has a few words down and can read those two page sheets they send home and I can find him laying on the couch reading them, lol. He’s realizing a whole new world is opening up for him 😀

  29. Jennifer Downing November 1, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I love Jullietts books. Fingers crossed!

  30. Shana Norris November 1, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Truly enjoy your Literary First Love series.

    The Boxcar Children was a fave of mine.

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