Yesterday, with less than 24 hours notice, I was disinvited from a Vermont school visit that had been planned since January. The reason? My book, THE SEVENTH WISH, deals with the effects of addiction on a younger sibling. I wrote about that here and have an update to share today. There’s more sad news but some happy news, too.
This morning, when I stopped by Phoenix Books in Burlington, I learned that the school not only cancelled my visit but also returned all of the books it had ordered for the school library.
Every. Last. Copy.
So not only did those 4th and 5th graders not get the author visit they were promised. Now they won’t have access to the book at all. This is a school where some kids deal with addiction in their own families. I know from fifteen years of teaching that the right book can be a lifeline for kids in situations like that. The right book says, “It’s not your fault.” It whispers, “You’re not alone. Be strong. It gets better.” I had so hoped The Seventh Wish would be that book for some kids. That’s why I wrote it.
I had a wonderful time at my other school visits today, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the kids whose visit was cancelled. So I stopped by the Community Library in South Burlington, donated a copy of THE SEVENTH WISH, explained what had happened, and asked if the library might be willing to host me later this month so that families whose visit was cancelled could come. Children’s librarian Meg Paquette was wonderful. She whisked me into a back office, found a date for the event, and booked the space.
I’ll be speaking at the South Burlington Community Library on June 28th at 4pm. I know not all the kids will be able to make it, but I hope lots of them can come and hear the talk they missed today. I’ll be there with my writer’s notebooks, research notes, outlines, and messy, marked-up manuscript pages. We’ll play the word game Charlie’s family plays in the book. We’ll talk about fairy tale retellings and brainstorm some re-imaginings of Jack and the Beanstalk and Cinderella, too.
Bloomsbury is donating 20 copies of THE SEVENTH WISH to give away to readers at that event. That’s not enough to put a book into the hands of every reader who missed my author visit, but it’s a wonderful start.
Thanks to everyone who commented and offered support after reading my post yesterday. If you’d like to help get books into these kids’ hands, the Community Library has cheerfully offered to give copies away to kids at this event and beyond, as long as they last. Phoenix Books has offered to coordinate and get the books to the library.
HOW TO DONATE A COPY OF THE SEVENTH WISH
Call Phoenix Books at 802.448.3350 to order over the phone. Let them know the book is a donation to South Burlington Community Library.
You can also order online here. Just write “South Burlington Library Donation” in the comments field when you order.
Or if you’d like to have a book sent from another bookseller, you can have it mailed directly to the library at this address:
540 Dorset St.
South Burlington, VT 05403
Attn: Meg Paquette
Finally, thanks to everyone who has reached out over this. I’ve never found myself in the middle of a book challenge before, and it’s a sad, strange place to be. But I’m so, so grateful for the outpouring of support from writers, teachers, librarians, administrators, and readers. Thanks especially to Donna MacDonald and Sharon Hayes, the librarians who welcomed me to Orchard Elementary and C.P. Smith school with kind words and big hugs today, and to those school communities whose open minds and hearts are so very much appreciated.
Thanks to everyone who’s been offering public words of support about this book and to everyone who sent me quiet private message about how important it is. Those notes talked about family members who are addicts. They talked about parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, college roommates, and best friends who overdosed. They talked about children lost to opioid addiction and children struggling with a family member’s addiction right now. It’s all so real, and so scary, but that’s why we need to keep talking about it.
It would be wonderful to live in a world where not talking about a thing made it vanish or took away all of its power. But we don’t live in that world. This epidemic is fueled by silence and shame. And keeping kids from stories about the effect of addiction on families only makes that stigma worse. So I’m going to keep talking and keep writing. I’m going to keep working to get books into kids’ hands, and I hope you will, too.