Lately I’ve been thinking about stories I read as a child that influenced my writing and my life. One that really sticks in my mind is A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry.
Something about this story intrigued me and I read it many times. Maybe it was because it was the first time I read a story with a character that died. Or because the main character had a sister and I didn’t (I have brothers). Or because the story includes a description of the birth of a baby, something that was relatively new to me at the age of 11. There was a lot in this thin book, including lovely writing. The characters really came alive for me when I read this story, no matter how many times I read it.Kids today might find the pace too slow or the writing too detailed. But I loved details the author included – the painted eggs, the names of the plants (nature again), the photography (not digital, of course), the quilt made of the girls’ baby clothes. [This makes me think of the quote I posted from Molly O’Neill on memorable details in writing middle grade books.] The details in A Summer to Die definitely made an impression on me. Those details helped to build and carry so much of the emotion of the story.
An interesting side note: It was not until I was an adult that I learned that this book was a fictional account of Lois Lowry’s own life and the death of her sister. And it was her first book.Are there any books from your childhood that introduced you to something you’d never experienced or thought about before? Do you still remember details from books you read as a child?