Sometimes a book comes along and you simply need to reach out to the author and tell them what their story meant to you. I did that today.
I’ve been doing a lot of research on transgender issues for a writing project I’m working on. I’ve read dozens of books – memoirs, novels, picture books, non-fiction. All of them have helped me better understand the transgender experience.
And then I read a review of Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky. I was surprised to find a novel for young people on this subject that I hadn’t yet stumbled across. It wasn’t in my library (they need to get a copy!) so I had to request an interlink loan. (The book was shipped to my library from another city.)
I gobbled up the story in one sitting. As I told the author in an email, the best word to describe this story is ‘tender’. And brave, just like the protagonist, who, baby step after baby step blossoms into the person she was meant to be.
In a way, this is the book I was hoping to write, but I couldn’t find my way, so I changed directions. I’m so glad Polonsky pulled it off, and so beautifully.
When your hot-off-the-press book is released into the world there’s a trembly period of time when you obsess over how its audience is going to receive it. There’s a lot to be learned by reading the professional reviews but when someone from your targeted audience writes and tells you that your book touched them in some way… well, that’s all that really matters. After receiving the following review I knew that the time spent writing and editing this book was worth it. It was also a reminder to go back to my old practise of reviewing the books I love.
Oh Shelley Shelley Shelley!
I barely know what to say besides thank you for writing Dancing in the Rain. Wow. I have JUST finished your book. I laughed, I shrieked, and I most definitely bawled my eyes out. You wrote such a beautiful, emotional, truthful, heart wrenchingly wonderful follow up (to Dancing Naked.) I could not have ask for anything more.
I will be honest, there were parts that were incredibly emotional for me to read. So much of my own life’s experiences could connect with this story. I found myself looking back over my own life and my adoption and how that got me to where I am. And who I am. So many of the questions Brenna had for Kia, I too once had about my own “other” life. I could honestly talk about this for hours. I am just so happy and thankful for this book. I think it has really hit a spot for me and I know I will hold it dear forever.
I just wanted to share my thoughts and feelings about your wonderful book with you. Thank you, Shelley. (shared with permission)
And thank you, Christy Brain!
Or sword swallowing.
This really speaks to me today as I struggle through the edits of my new book. Thank you to all the readers of my previous books who took the time to write nice reviews. Each one was very much appreciated!
My books are written for a teenage audience, so when teenagers review them I really pay attention to what they have to say. Did I get the ‘voice’ right? The following quote is from a recent teen review of my novel Gotcha! Phew! It seems I nailed it. I suspect that it was because I was living with three teens while I wrote the book that I was able to think like a teen, and not someone “decades older”, which, of course. I am. Now that my own teens are young adults, I may have to adopt a teen in order to stay current!
“I found the characters in the novel to be quite believable. In the past, I’ve read books aimed towards teenagers, where the characters personalities and actions were inconceivable. In those cases, it was obvious that the authors had not been teenagers for many, many decades. They are written such that it makes it seem as if the author is an outsider looking in. On the other hand, Shelley Hrdlitschka writes with such brilliant pose it’s as if she’s a teenager herself. She understands the highschool dynamic very well. She knows that friendships don’t last forever and that people whom you once had an alliance with, can turn their back on you in a heartbeat, both scenarios reflected in this novel.” Read the entire review here: http://wajihas.wix.com/chasingdreams#!Gotcha-Thorough-Novel-Review/cmbz/556a56260cf298b2d3f31483