Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Groundings and Such...




...there's a girl I know, lives down the street. I'd guess her to be fourteen, perhaps a bit older, but too young to drive. As it turns out, she was grounded for the majority of her summer break by her stepmother, a most common result for many teenagers following an errant decision, some risky adventure gone awry.

The cause of this girl's dilemma however, has left many of us shaking our heads in dismay. Her crime? The reason behind her having to remain imprisoned while her friends spent July and August at the pool?

Her stepmother accused her of reading too much.

As my son, (who happens to be pals with the girl's older brother) explained it to me the other day, the girl is an avid bookworm, no doubt more so than many, if not all of her peers. On this particular afternoon, she was in the process of finishing up a YA novel, my son seems to think it was "Mockingjay," by Suzanne Collins, when her stepmother stormed into her room and demanded for her to go outside and enjoy the day. She responded with a nod, and quietly left her room for the great outdoors...cradling the book under her arm. Minutes later, her stepmother found her lying under the shade of a mature elm, her face buried in the story.

Stepmother yanked the book from her grasp and proceeded to ground the girl from reading anything for the remainder of the summer.

No, really.

Considering how, with every breath we exhale, somewhere on this planet there's a girl of the same age, bent over the edge of a stained mattress within the bowels of an apartment complex sagging from the wear and tear of cruelty and neglect. Her expression a blank, a pair of eyes the color of aged chestnuts, dilated and distant, she's shoving a needle into her arm as her next door neighbor, a man twice her age, stands behind her, feeding his needs, as she feeds hers.

And meanwhile, there's a girl down the street who simply wants to finish reading her book...and yet she can't.

***

On a brighter note, per my editor's request, I stopped by the local library the other day, a copy of "South of Charm," in hand. Feeling a bit nervous, I approached the librarian in charge, a thirty-something brunette who was all but entrenched in whatever was displayed on her computer monitor, and quietly asked if she would be at all interested in accepting a copy of my recent release as a donation for their shelves.

She glanced up, then back down, then hesitated, the wrinkles of her brow quenching. Her gaze settled on my cover, a pair of thin fingers gliding over the matte finish. Then her eyes widened, her mouth opening as if on the verge of releasing a yelp. I stepped back, fearing the worst, when she said, "It's you."

Not sure how to answer, I hesitated, then asked, "It is?"

"You're him," she continued, her forefinger now tapping upon the story's cover. "You did this. I recognize you from that review in the paper."

The hand left my cover and extended, offering me a congratulatory shake. I accepted.

"It's an honor," she said.

I glanced around, feeling the weight of more than a few passerby, their heads tilted, gazes straining.

"Really, it's no big deal," I mumbled. "I just thought maybe you'd like a copy of my book."

I watched as my story was lifted off the counter, wielded as if it were Arthur's famed sword, and then clutched to her side. "If you don't mind, I'd like to keep this one, and we'll buy a few for circulation."

I swallowed. "Okay. That would be fine."

"Thank you so much."

"Um...yeah. Thank you too."

***

Come to think of it, there's a girl down the street. Rumor has it, she enjoys a healthy story now and then. Perhaps one of these days when she checks her mail box, she'll find a book inside addressed to her. An anonymous package wrapped in brown paper, a good read for a youngster who savors the written word. And if lucky, perhaps her stepmother will give it a look-see as well.

Thanks for reading,

EL

23 comments:

Sarah Pearson said...

Oh Elliot, I wanted to cry when I read the first part of this post. There's so much I can say, but I won't because I don't swear on the internet.

Thank you for following it up with the lovely story about the librarian. It's nice to remember there are good people too.

Melissa Pearl said...

Excellent story. Thankfully I read your post right to the end so you left me with a warm smile :)
Thank you.

The Empress said...

So sad. Hopefully her grounding has inspired her to read all the more. Shame on the stepmother!

Congratulations on having your book added to the library's collection. Well done and well deserved! You are an inspiration to writers everywhere!!

Wendy Tyler Ryan said...

Heart-wrenching story. You have to give your head a shake sometimes.

Hurray for your library experience. That was awesome.

Donna Hole said...

What an awesome library experience El. Awesome to be recognized, and appreciated.

As for the girl; well, the social worker in me wrote a comment, and the self editor deleted it. I'll just say I hope the step mom had the well being of the girl at heart.

I'm so pleased with your self promotion concepts and inertia. Keep up the good work. You deserve the applause :)

........dhole

Christine Danek said...

Elliot,
Everytime I read your blog so many emotions swirl around me. I'm actually speechless. Amazing. I have a few wrods for that stepmom, but they are not appropriate at the moment, plus I would want to say it to her face.
Keep it up good sir. I smiled at your library experience. Hard work pays off. :) You are an inspiration. Thanks.
And thanks for your advice on my post. It was very helpful.
Have a great day!

Jennifer said...

Ugh! That story really is upsetting to me. Nothing like continuing the evil stepmom stereotype there lady! Poor girl.....I have never heard of a child/teenager being punished for reading too much. I will admit to chasing my daughter out into the fresh air with her book in hand. Anyway.....congrats on your experience at the library. I think giving that family a copy of your wonderful book is an excellent idea.

Freya Morris said...

Man - what a strange world it is (about the girl that is) : )

RE: Library.
You should be proud! What a day! Congrats.

Marlena Cassidy said...

Who even does that? Does she want her step-daughter to be like one of those girls who have no self respect and booze around with guys all the time because she craves attention? I don't get it. I really don't.

In other news, congratulations with the library! It must have been a great scene to watch pan out.

Cynthia Lee said...

That stepmother story is heartbreaking! I just don't even know what to say about it.

Congratulations on your library experience. It must have been a great feeling.

Carolyn V said...

She read TOO much??? That is just crazy! Really.

Congrats on the library. That was awesome!

Flying high in the sky.... said...

your last para.. .made me cry... you are such a beautiful soul... you are sending a copy to her... how cute is that!!! too good!!! God bless you....

Elliot Grace said...

...as for an update, with the assemblage of school once again, the girl's been spotted at the library, where she belongs ;) And yes, she now has a copy of "South of Charm."

Thanks everyone for your heartfelt comments!

Quite the writerly support group we've become ;)

EL

DEZMOND said...

I thought Cindarellas and Snow Whites with evil stepmothers existed only in stories ... boy, how I was wrong! :(((

JUST ME said...

This was like the tiniest fairy tale, told in under 1000 words. I loved it.

Jessica Love said...

Yay for your experience at the library!

The Golden Eagle said...

I'm glad to hear she's been seen at the library . . . and that she has a copy of South of Charm. :)

Congratulations on your experience at the library!

KarenG said...

Oh wow, unbelievable that a grown woman would punish a girl for reading. I am just sick at the thought. Gah! Glad your library visit had good results though!

Nicki Elson said...

You're a celebrity! That must've felt so cool.

But that is UNbelievable about the girl up the street. Apparently wicked stepmothers aren't just in Disney movies, eh?

Amanda Milner said...

Both stories had me almost shedding a tear for entirely different reasons!
I'm glad to hear the girl wasn't discouraged from reading and she's back in the library. :) The step-mom is insane! I'd love to see my boys' noses stuck in a book.
ANd your library story is awesome! Congratulations! ☺

Elliot Grace said...

...thanks everyone for your comments and support :)

Busy weekend ahead! Be safe!

EL

mshatch said...

I can't even imagine what sort of person (and I use the term loosely) would forbid their child from reading. An idiot perhaps?

Adeeva Afsheen said...


Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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