Thursday, October 2, 2008
The first is roots, the other wings."
Don't know who said that, but I've liked it since the first time I read it.
My conversation with School Library Journal's Rick Margolis is online. Thank you, Rick! You're awesome.
Speaking of things Italian and Catholic -- as I did with Rick, in case that segue seems anemic -- I am having a blast reading The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas. Antonia is a 15-year-old Catholic schoolgirl of Italian descent in Rhode Island, obsessed simultaneously with being proclaimed the first living saint and achieving her first kiss. The half of me that isn't Irish is Italian, and like Antonia's mother, my mother is a gourmet -- these characters are so familiar to me, and so, so lovable! Freitas does a wonderful job portraying a young girl who is fixated on the idea of romance but terrified by the reality of it. I wonder if Freitas has been spying on my own high school memories? And apparently it is a universal Catholic schoolgirl experience to wear your skirt too short and break the school socks rules. I got sent to detention numerous times in high school because of uniform code violations. Except at my high school, detention was called JUG. Short for Justice Under God.
Also, there are multiple occasions in this book in which something along these lines happens: Character A asks Character B how many cans of tomatoes (the yellow cans) he needs to make sauce, and not only do I know exactly which cans he means, but I know the answer -- 2! And at one point I was reminded of the time someone outside my family asked me if I'd ever eaten pizzelles before. I said no, because they'd pronounced it to rhyme with gazelles, and so I had no idea they were talking about bit-ZELL-uhs, the dough of which I used to make myself sick eating, because believe me, bit-ZELL-uh dough is even better than chocolate chip cookie dough.
Plus? Good job, Ms. Freitas, sticking an imaginary PROGRESSIVE pope into the world of your story. And thank you for showing me the humor in a lot of things that have generally only provided me with rage in the past.
I think I'll dedicate this post to my parents. I joked with Rick at SLJ about my mother's initial reaction to my decision to get a master's degree in children's literature at Simmons College. She did imply that it might not be the most practical degree under the sun. But here's the thing: She never tried to talk me out of it. This is one of the best things about my parents: They never, ever, ever confused the pursuit of a good salary with the pursuit of happiness. They never, ever asked me to rank money above my dreams. They taught me not to be scared of not being wealthy. They taught me a kind of fearlessness that has really helped me to discover what happiness is.
Mom and Dad, just so you know, you did good. I am happy. And just in case it's slipped your notice, I am living my dreams. You put me here. You gave me a precious gift: You showed me that before I'd ever earned a cent, I was already rich.