Since this is our very first episode we thought it would be appropriate to make the theme for this one, “Books that made us fall in love with reading”.
We cover Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary, and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (published as L. M. Montgomery).
We also discuss the recent trend of sensitivity editors in the publishing industry, why Josie loves to write young adult books, and somewhere along the way one of us gets drunk.
To be fair, our producer encouraged us to have a drink in order to loosen up, which is understandable because we were all super nervous about recording our very first episode. It’s funny how sticking a microphone in front of you just changes things. It’s just so awkward!
Anyway, nobody slurred. Nobody said anything embarrassing. Although, we did record an hour and a half worth of material and only 49 minutes made the cut. There was a lot of giggling and sassy back and forth, none of which will ever see the light of day.
We realize it will probably be difficult to figure out who’s who when you’re first listening, but we all have such different voices and personalities that if you give it a few episodes you’ll get a better sense of who’s saying what. Luckily, we don’t talk all over one another, so that’s a plus.
The episode is a little rough around the edges, but I guess that’s to be expected for our first episode. Some of the other things we cover are the naming of flowers, re-reading books we read as children now as adults, the mirrors and windows curriculum in libraries, and if you’re a fan of Josie, there’s some really lovely insight into what it was like to live in the Angelini household.
Josie, Lauren, Alisa and Aileen
BELOW IS A TRANSCRIPT OF THE EPISODE. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT IT’S BEEN TRANSLATED BY AN AI PROGRAM, SO UNFORTUNATELY WE CAN’T VOUCH FOR ITS ACCURACY.
Lauren: [00:00:00] I’m the mom of two teenage girls
Aileen: Which one do you like better?
Lauren: which daughter? depends on the day. Depends on the menstrual cycle. We’re all synched at the moment.
Josie: Hello and welcome to fiction between friends, a podcast, dedicated to books and book lovers like us. I’m Josephine Angelini.
Lauren: I’m Lauren Sanchez.
Alisa: I’m Alyssa Hillfinger,
Aileen: and I’m Aileen Calderon,
Josie: we’re four childhood friends from the suburbs of Massachusetts.
Lauren: Who’ve always loved to read almost as much as we love to talk to each other.
Alisa: We started this podcast as a way to celebrate how a really good book can come into your life and change it.
Aileen: So if you’re looking for fun and engaging conversations about books, stick around.
Josie: This is fiction between friends. And we’re glad you’ve joined us.
Hello there. Welcome to our podcast. This is episode one, season one. I’m Josephine Angelini, and joining me are my dear friends. Aileen Calderon
Aileen: hi there.
Josie: Alissa hill finger
Alisa: Hi friends.
Josie: and Lauren Sanchez.
Josie: So the idea behind this [00:01:00] podcast was to start a book club with my friends, where we could read new book releases or books from the past that we’ve already read and loved. Then meet once a week to have an open discussion about them. Uh, some of these books you’ve all read and some, maybe not. So just be aware that we might do some spoilers. We will post all the books in advance on our website at fictionbetweenfriends.com to give you all a chance to read along if you feel like it. Before we get into books, I guess we should take a moment to let our listeners know who we are. Aileen, let’s start with you.
Aileen: I am Aileen I am the mother of a four-and-a-half-year-old. And what I’m not being a mother. I am also the executive creative director at a tech company after many years working in advertising.
Lauren: I’m a librarian. A children’s librarian. I wanted to be an English teacher, but it wasn’t for me. I didn’t really like it. Sorry Alyssa. But, um, I found my niche in libraries. I love working in [00:02:00] public libraries and being an advocate for good information and helping people and literacy. I love my job. And actually right now I’m getting my master’s in library and information science, which is something I started a long time ago and didn’t finish. So I’m going to finish at this time, even if it takes me forever.
Josie: Alisa, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Alisa: Well, I think it’s funny that Lauren said, she hated teaching. Like that’s what she wanted to do, but she hated it. So she left. I never meant to teach because I thought I would hate it? Um, but here I am 17 years later, science teacher.
Josie: I guess I should introduce myself too. I’m Josephine Angelini. Best-selling author of young adult novels. I’m mostly known for my star cross series, and now I’m also very happy to be a podcaster with my three childhood friends. When we discussed it earlier, we talked about how, what a great way to start off this podcast would be to talk about the books that got us into [00:03:00] reading. And I go back and forth on that a lot because there are, there are all these books that I, I feel like are kind of milestone books for me. They were so important in my development and, Like Aileen, the book that you picked was Ramona Quimby, age eight. And that book goes way back in my memory. Like just even the name Beverly Cleary. It goes back to like my earliest memories of books.
Aileen: So, yes. So when I was thinking about the books that I first started reading, when I was little, I immediately thought Beverly Cleary and Judy bloom, like those two authors, I would just go to the library. I would take out tons and tons of books and just sit and read every single one, like in an entire day almost. Um, so I was thinking about the first book and I immediately thought of Ramona Quimby and I grabbed Ramona Quimby age eight. I actually re-read it because I haven’t read it since I was, I don’t know, 10 years old or something. Um, it’s amazing. It’s not even the first book in the series Beezus and Ramona [00:04:00] was the first book and it was actually written in 1955. Ramona Quimby was written in 1981 and it was really interesting. Rereading it as an adult. I read it really quickly. I mean, I read everything really quickly. I think I probably speed read more than I should, but actually a really well-written book it, I think it doesn’t take for granted the intelligence of the readers, which is probably like second or third graders. And Ramona Quimby is just this great character, even now. I don’t even remember what I thought of her when I was younger reading her, but reading her now, she’s just like unapologetically herself. She’s curious. smart. She gets into all kinds of, I guess you call it trouble, but it’s more just her trying to sort of figure things out and not willing to back down. She just kind of stands up for what she thinks is right.
Lauren: I think that you should be a children’s library and you just described that so well, like I could imagine you talking to a kid like, this is why you should read this book.
Aileen: I’m going to take that as a huge compliment. Thank you, Lauren.
Alisa: One of the things I liked [00:05:00] about, Ramona Age 8, there’s some anecdote. And I don’t remember if it’s Ramona age eight, but she had to get herself to school and was told leave at quarter after. So that quarter after a quarter after seven, whatever the time was, but leave at quarter after. And you’ll be able to cross the street with the crossing guard and get to school on time. And the way it played out was she didn’t understand time. And so she interpreted quarter after as 25 minutes. It was 25 cents to a quarter. So she equated 25 minutes. So it was this whole debacle of her not making it to the crosswalk when the cross lady was there and getting to school on time and getting in trouble because, you know, she misunderstood the directions. But what I about that is just how great, the little details of all, like, of course a little kid would do that. And I just, she was like I, I, love her quirks, Ramona’s [00:06:00] escapades.
Aileen: It’s interesting reading it as an adult, because I mean, obviously an adult wrote this book, but I think she did a great job of getting into the mindset of a child because the adults dismiss her a lot. Like you’re inside Ramona’s head and she’s really upset about something. The teacher has said to her and it’s bothering her for weeks and she doesn’t tell anyone. Every time she’s on the verge of telling an adult, they’re just like, okay, Ramona, I have other things to do. They’re very dismissive of her. And you can kind of understand how, mean, as a mom, now I look at that and I’m like, oh Yeah I really need to kind of pay attention to my little four and a half year old, especially as a geriatric mother, you know, make sure I hear what he’s saying and like listen to them because they live in such a different world that we do. Another thing that I thought was great about this book, it was written in 1981 and I feel like it was kind of progressive for its time. The dad in this, in this book in particular, the dad is a cashier at ShopRite. The mom is a receptionist at like a dentist [00:07:00] office or something, the dad is going back to school to become an art teacher. So the mom’s job becomes really important. And you can just, you feel the stress that the children are getting from their parents, because the parents were obviously worried about money cause they don’t have a ton of money. And it’s just, interesting seeing all that from a kid’s eyes.
Josie: That’s actually the thing, I mean that stuck with me the most about this book was how much anxiety this eight-year-old felt. And it really made me stop and think because my daughter is seven and I was like, does she? my daughter’s super sensitive. And she feels everything that going through in the house. And she’s very perceptive and really empathetic. So I’m like, is she this stressed out? Because Ramona was really anxious about a lot of stuff. It was like, that was her whole world where her parents and making sure that and her teachers and what they thought of her. Yeah. That’s what I thought was so groundbreaking about this book. It was talking so much about this worry in her life of a kid [00:08:00] and how seriously she took every situation and how, you know, as a parent you think, oh, they’re kids, they’re not worried. Cause they don’t look worried. They look like these blissful little creatures, but they do like they fret and they have all this anxiety and anxiety is such a big issue now in the world.
Alisa: Yeah, Josie. I think that’s part of the point of why youth writing and even YA writing is really relevant to everybody because it’s a window into these different characters at different times in their lives. And we forget what it’s like to be a kid. it really is a nice of who they are and what they’re going through so that you can be more empathetic.
Aileen: Josie, let me ask you a question. So obviously you rate for you write young adult fiction. How do you make sure your writing is tailored to that audience? Like what’s the difference between writing for Y a versus writing adult fiction?
Josie: The reason why I love writing YA is because all the emotions are turned up [00:09:00] to 11. Do you remember when we were teenagers,
Aileen: Oh God.
Josie: someone would look at you sideways. And it was like, it was like falling down a mountain. You were like, oh my God, this is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Everything is turned up to 11 and everything matters. And it does matter. It’s just, when you get older, you stop caring so much about stuff, but when you’re younger, you really care about your friends and you really care what other people think. And you really care about your parents. There’s like this, this breadth of being able to love. And that’s what I try to write from. And that’s why I love writing YA because it reminds me that that it does matter. It does matter if one of your friends is angry with you and you will carry that around with you and you don’t just blow it off like you do as an adult. So that’s why I enjoy it. It keeps me in touch with that, you know, and Lauren, you chose the book that I was going to choose.
Lauren: Oh really?
Lauren: We can share it. It’s not.
Josie: No, I picked a different boat,
Josie: Anne of Green Gables, like that book is like my heart.
Lauren: Oh yeah. So I wasn’t actually, I, Aileen is like my [00:10:00] favorite library patron as a child, because I love those kids who come in and read chapter books. Like it’s easy to get parents to come in and take out like 50 picture books or whatever, but it’s that age group, you start losing them and they, they’re not, they don’t continue reading on their own. And I, there are these kids who come in and they take out stacks of chapter books. And those are my favorite kids, so Eileen, if I was your childhood librarian, I would have adored you. But moving on. Yeah, no, no problem. Moving forward. Talk about Anna Green Gables. So I wasn’t one of those kids, even though my dad was a huge reader and, uh, I always admired that about him, but I just, wasn’t a big reader and, um, I didn’t dislike it. I just didn’t wanna, I didn’t really care about it. Um, but in 1985, I will. No, it wasn’t. Yeah, it was 1985. Megan Follows was in that PBS. And that’s all we watched when I was a kid. It was like PBS. We watched like doctor who, and we didn’t watch a whole lot. There wasn’t a whole lot to watch. Right. [00:11:00] So that was a family. If my mom and I were like religiously watching that every week and, um, And she said, you know, that’s based on a book, you could read it. And she was always trying to get me to read, which was good on her, you know? So I read it and it was a big chapter book for me. That was a big book. So I must’ve been like 10 or 11 at that point. and then I read, I went on to read almost the whole series, but I don’t know what I loved about it. I was trying to think about that today. Like what did I love about? And I think it, it’s kind kinda how I am today. If I watch a show on TV and I, and I mentioned this to you guys before, like how I really get attached to characters and I care about them. And then I know when the series, I don’t watch movies because they don’t keep going. I like to watch series cause I like to get involved with the psyche of the characters and that’s how it is with books too. So if I like something I’ve seen on TV, I’ll often say, I wonder if this is based on something. I should read the book. And I think that’s kind of kept going in my life, you know, and even reading in Spanish now I’ll watch this. I [00:12:00] love watching Spanish TV and I’ll go and say, I wonder if that was a book and then I’ll read the book. So it’s kinda, I do. It’s hard. It’s very, very hard, but I do,
Aileen: what things to read in Spanish?
Lauren: um, I like to read things in Spanish that I’ve watched or read in English prior. It’s one of the other, so if I watch a show in Spanish, I will I watch it with subtitles. Right. But I can still understand the Spanish pretty much. But then I know the story. So then I can pick up a book. That’s it. Even if the story is a little different, I know the character is, and I kinda know what’s going to happen. It helps me translate it in my head. but the best is when I read Harry Potter in Spanish. Cause I knew that story and that was just. It really helped me to know the story ahead of time. I didn’t have to guess too much. but that’s what I think. And I mean, yeah, I can say, well, I thought Anne was a great character, but I’m not even sure. That’s what I thought. I just really liked those books. I liked knowing like, caring about Marilla was her adoptive, parent. and I liked knowing [00:13:00] about her best friend Diana. And I think I was, I felt like a little bit of a connection with him because she was a little bit flighty and I, I was definitely like that. I don’t
Josie: no, we never noticed Lauren.
Lauren: still like that,
Aileen: No, not at all. My favorite thing to do to Lauren when she learned how to drive is a light would turn green and I would tell her to take a laugh and she would always take a right. Cause I knew that was going to happen. She would always get them confused.
Lauren: I have, directional issues. There’s gotta be a name for it, like a directional disability. Like I, I still think my left is my right. And my daughter is the same. Amy. I have two teenage daughters and Amy, my youngest is the same a lefty. We went to get our flu shots the other day. And she said to the guy, I like to have it in my right arm because I’m a lefty. And he went to give it to her and he goes, that’s, that’s my left arm. And he was like, no, that’s your right arm. She goes, no, that’s my left arm. I was like, holy shit. She is my child. Like
Josie: That’s mine. I made that[00:14:00]
Lauren: just a bit. Don’t know if you call it actually disadvantaged or
Aileen: Did you just invent a term? I think you did. Let’s go with it. Directionally disadvantaged.
Josie: But that’s what I love about Ann of Green Gables too. And the thing that I loved about it is almost like the exact opposite of why I loved Ramona Quimby, age eight. I thought it was so interesting. Like looking back over these books, I felt so safe in Anne’s world. Like Anne Anne of green Gables. When I read it, had stuff that happened to her and it was terrible and embarrassing. She broke the slate over Gilbert blinds head. had to stand at the front of the classroom. I mean, there was terrible stuff that happened to her, but I always felt like she was going to be okay. And I guess with Ramona, I felt like she was going to be okay, but she was so anxious about it, that it was like that brought sort of like a modern take on what kids feel. On top of like all of this embarrassing stuff happening. So you have Ramona Quimby breaking the egg on her forehead, and then she’s got egg in her [00:15:00] hair for the rest of the school day. And it’s mortifying. also have Anne mortifying herself, but the way that each writer goes, uh, like she mortifies herself like a million times and Anna Green cables, but the way, and oh my God, she gets Diana drunk. That’s, that’s hilarious. But that it’s like this feeling of being safe is in both of the books, but they go about it in such different ways. One by acknowledging the anxiety and the other one by just creating this like perfect little pocket in the world, this green Gables, you know, who, who does I wanted to live there, although, you know, I was like, there’s a lot of farm work and I already have enough of that. But anyway,
Aileen: Can you get, can you guys give a brief summary of Anne of Green Gables? I know I read it.
Lauren: It’s about this elderly couple on prince Edward island who have a farm. And, um, they’re, they’re realizing that they need farm help. So they contacted an orphanage, for a boy for a farm hand. But instead Matthew goes to pick up the boy and Anne gets in the, in the carriage or whatever you want to [00:16:00] call it. So, yeah. And he brings her home and Marilla is like, forget it. We’re not keeping this, but Mathew who’s already decided that he likes Anne and he wants to keep her, and she just talks the whole way home, you know? Um,
Lauren: imagination and, she’s so excited that somebody wants her. Cause she’s been in some pretty tough situations. So they get home and Marilla was like, who is this kid? You know, We can’t keep this girl. She’s not going to do anything for us. She’s not what we wanted. And poor Anne is just like devastated, but in the end they decided to give her a trial and they ultimately keep her. But Marilla is like this very, I don’t know. What would you say, Josie? Just like a very straight person, like
Josie: buttoned up strict.
Lauren: Anne’s like her complete opposite.
Josie: She’s you know, so Matthew and Marilla are brother and sister, neither of them ever married. So they’re these super they’re just repressed. And Ann is the exact opposite. She’s like this free spirit and she’s creative. And she imagines climbing trees and being a fairy [00:17:00] princess. And she like brings this no filter and it’s beautiful. They’re like exact opposites and they’re
Josie: So it’s just So charming.
Lauren: Yeah. And then there’s like, um, there’s a boy named Matt. Uh, wait, what’s his name? Gilbert Blythe. Yeah. And I, I kinda created a crush on him. Like I, I decided, I, thought Gilbert Blythe was just it, you know, in my, in my, like 10 year old, 11 year old minds based on
Josie: Well, he was
Lauren: So he was he was it? Yeah. I have a plant named Gilbert.Yeah, I do.
Aileen: I love that you named your plants.
Lauren: Yeah. Alyssa gave me a plan and I named it Gladys. It was just like big, chunky succulent. I’m like that’s Gladys.
Aileen: Lauren has a green fist? Not just a thumb. I feel like you’ve got a green
Lauren: No, you guys are totally wrong actually about them. I really don’t.
Alisa: Lauren, you have given me the cuttings of three different plants. And when they leave your house, they are lush and [00:18:00] verdant and wonderful to my house and they die. It’s you
Lauren: it’s all about luck. I don’t do anything special. I don’t even fertilize everything. I like stick it. in the ground and I say, go for it.
Alisa: Lauren, you have some magical touch and
Lauren: It’s gotta be the lead paint. That’s
Alisa: oh no, I have
Lauren: and we’re all eating it here, so,
Alisa: I’m not allowed. I had a beautiful herb garden with oregano and Rosemary that took off in, right in front of the house. And because our house is so old, husband said, there’s no way we’re eating herbs because of all the led that could have, up in the plants themselves from all the hundreds of years of scraping.
Lauren: oh yeah.
Josie: you’ve always preferred dead things. You always love fossils and dinosaurs and you know, it, wasn’t
Alisa: if it aint dead, I cant kill it.
Josie: only fossilized plants in your house.
Alisa: Exactly. That my one publication actually is of a fossilized plant. So MIT’s Powell I who know? Yeah.
Lauren: Oh, no kidding.[00:19:00] I’m going to have to look that one up.
Alisa: The New Mexico law review. I believe like a law review. Oh no, wait. Oh, Sorry. I have two publications. My fossil publication is, um, is this MIT’s Powell lie. then in the New Mexico law review, I have a paper about paleontological resource management. Go ahead. Laugh.
Josie: No, I love it. We have to do, we gotta do like a science book episode. I’m serious. I really want to do
Aileen: I’ll have nothing to contribute to
Josie: yeah, you can do a fictional one.
Lauren: be fiction?
Josie: it is fiction between friends.
Lauren: No, wait, actually, Alyssa, I Eileen you might actually I’m like, do you remember the book about Henrietta lacks? Did you read that while? If you haven’t, you should. I
Alisa: Um, well, the immortal life of Henrietta
Lauren: Henrietta lacks? She was,
Josie: her cells are just like going on forever
Josie: have to read that that’s on my to read list. I don’t know. I haven’t read it yet.
Aileen: Or I will read. ADA twist scientist, which is a children’s book, because this is about at my reading comprehension level these days. [00:20:00] And it’s amazing.
Josie: Your son loves those books. Right? I mean,
Aileen: Yes. And I love that there are children’s books, that star really smart little black girls, like,
Josie: that’s amazing.
Aileen: little girls period. And he loves it. And it’s great.
Josie: We didn’t have those options when we were kids. It was
Aileen: do you realize we just pretty much everything we read was, I mean, it was definitely by written by white people and well, I mean, once you got to high school, it was
Aileen: all old white men. I mean,
Aileen: books that we were taught.
Josie: your head,
Lauren: I, you know, I mean, there are a lot more books by African-American authors now, but there were some when we were kids, but I don’t think that people were reading them to us. You know what I mean?
Aileen: Like, I think about it so much now with my son. Like I think about even just like using pronouns, because I realize you tend to default to, he, like, if you see like a rabbit in the yard, you’ll be like, oh, look at him. I always catch myself. I’ll be like, oh, look at her.
Lauren: yeah. That’s true.
Aileen: to kind of mix it up a little bit, I’ve noticed he like, he’ll call, he’ll refer to a [00:21:00] monster as being a, her instead of a him,
Josie: That’s so cute.
Aileen: makes, it makes, such a big difference. Like I pay so much attention to that. Cause I feel like growing up, no one did.
Lauren: You know what? Aileen Alyssa actually brought up. Books being like, I’m a window. I think you used the word window or a mirror, but what there’s, there’s this whole like curriculum called mirrors and windows. And, um, we use it at the library at the moment. we partner with a community group that puts this on and whole concept now is to like, you know, books are reflection. You want a book to reflect who you are, but also be a mirror to another person or another culture. Yeah. Uh, thank you a window to another person or culture. And, um, and I think it’s an amazing thing for kids to think that way. And nobody ever thought about that when we were kids, I don’t think, or they weren’t talking about it to us. Um,
Josie: We were raised in the dark ages.
Lauren: mirror, you know?
Aileen: And I, I tend to gravitate to books that are about people like [00:22:00] me even now. Yeah. And I’ve been trying to make a conscious
Aileen: not do that. and actually use books as a way to learn about other people. But even, Ramona Quimby, I was like, Ooh, look at this cool spunky little girl. I feel like she’s a little bit like me. I’m going to read about her. You know what I mean?
Alisa: but, that’s the thing. So here’s this character who is, who is a child that is brave and quirky and fun and spunky, and could speak to any child. But I wonder how many boys were Quimby to read.
Alisa: I mean, we, as girls are given without regard to the characters are, and if the main character is a boy. Are expected to be able to still read it, relate to it, find some truth in the that right.
Lauren: I agree with you, Alyssa. Yeah. And I agree like as maybe I’m generalizing here, I probably am, but I feel like girls will read any book about any character. Like my girls loved to read the Rick [00:23:00] reorder and Percy Jackson books. But if you ask a boy to read like, say you you’re you’re talking to a 12 year old boy and you’re like, oh, you should read Josie, Angelini’s books. Um,
Josie: There’s a lot of kissing in it.
Lauren: and this and that. And they, there’ll be like, eh, I don’t really want to read that with a girl
Aileen: What did the boys read? Cause I even asked my husband, I was like, what did you read growing up? I’m like, did you read Beverly, clearly or Judy bloom? And he’s like, who’s that? And I was shocked because they were such a huge part of my childhood. I don’t know what the boys were reading and I feel like we’re all gravitating. I mean, so far I gravitated towards Ramona Quimby, strong female character. guys are gravitating towards Anne of green Gables, strong female character. we haven’t gotten to Alyssa yet, but it’s an interesting trend. And I wonder if boys even think like that and what were they reading?
Lauren: Well, my, read comics lot and they also, Andrew read, your own
Alisa: Yes, a
Lauren: Loved those. [00:24:00] Um, but I think like Andrew Clemens was wasn’t he, I don’t, I feel like my brother read his stuff too, but that may have been, I may be confusing that with
Josie: No, but Alyssa with bridge to Terabithia, the author did something
Josie: She had two, all main characters. and it was told from the perspective of a girl and a boy, of
Lauren: Can I just say Eileen and Josie bridge to Terabithia is a great read aloud. You guys could definitely read that with your kids. Alyssa and I, our kids are older so I don’t think they want to hear us read it. I read it to Ana and then Amy sat down one day to start listening and she’d never sat to listen to books. She still doesn’t really, um, she loved that book. I’m so glad you chose that one. Ayleen Alyssa.
Aileen: that, so that’s another one. I remember the title. I remember I read it. I don’t remember anything about it. And Josie apparently went back and read all of the books. I did not. I’m impressed.
Josie: I did well, I saw it as an opportunity. I was like, oh my God, I love these books. I’m going to read them all again.
Alisa: I know when I was thinking [00:25:00] about books that got me into reading, I mean, all of those same books, Eileen, that you mentioned with Judy bloom and Beverly Cleary, but bridge to Terabithia, it’s a story about fifth graders and there is a boy, who is the only boy in a family of a lot of girls, Josie, your family might
Josie: Jess, Jess,
Alisa: That’s Jesse’s the, Leslie is the,
Josie: is the boy
Josie: and my family. Definitely. My brother was like the only boy in a sea of women. Poor thing
Alisa: but I remember, one of the details that sticks out is, um, He had his claim to fame was going to be running and his parents didn’t have money to buy him sneakers and everything was handed down from the oldest sisters all the way down. And the only shoes he could get a hold of to run in where his sisters and they were pink. And he took a marker colored over, know, some of the pink on the, on the sneakers so that they would look more boyish and, know, just how mortified he was that [00:26:00] he had to borrow his sister’s sneakers in order to run. And then girl moves in from and she beats him in the school yard race, and he’s pissed. And then they developed this friendship and. connects with her and they create this little village in the forest and they have a rope swing over a Creek. And they’re the only ones that go on the other side and they build this little village and they call it Terabithia. And the rope swing over the Creek is the bridge to Terabithia and nobody knows about it. But then, um, and then the, you know, the tragedy in the book that he isn’t with her one day and she goes Terabithia, but she slips on the rope swing and she hits her head on a rock in the Creek and she drowns. And so it’s processing this grief as a fifth grader, that, I mean, that just felt so huge to me. First of [00:27:00] all, this relationship between a boy And a girl was so foreign and hadn’t really modeled anywhere. and at that point too, in our
Josie: And not, romantic. It’s just a friendship. It’s so beautiful too.
Alisa: I mean, remember on,
Alisa: playground at recess, was not a whole lot of us playing with the boys. I mean, there might’ve been a little bit, but, but I just re well that’s who I thought of because
Josie: PAX, Jen, Eric Backstrin who was the one I played with? Yep.
Alisa: this, but I just remember the depth of emotion I felt about just being so sad and poor girl died and the friendship and what would happen to it and, you know, Jess at it just, and so I would go back and I would reread the sections of the book where, you know, different parts happened and
Alisa: it again. And did I really read it right? And maybe she’s not really dead and [00:28:00] it, it just.
Josie: and he has the same denial.
Lauren: I’m glad Alyssa brought this book up because sometimes when I select books for kids chapter books, I not to censor based on my own fears and things that I think about for my kids. You know.
Lauren: come out and it’s about divorce or the grandfather dies or the parent dies and I’m like, oh, not another one, and I get really anxious about it cause I don’t, I want to protect everybody. Um, and I’ve sometimes I feel like that’s a really new, a new, feeling. because when we were kids, they were books were scary and they were like, they just, you know, I don’t know. I think they people weren’t it. Concerned about it.Um, but it’s a good reminder that like you related to that, like it, made you think about things. And so if a kid today read a book about mom dying and the dad moving away and you know, it’s, it’s actually okay for a kid to read that because it’s okay forthem to feel something be a little confused.
Aileen: I think that’s, I think that’s it as an adult and especially as a parent, your instinct is to protect your child and you realize we [00:29:00] come into every situation with so much more baggage than they have. Like, I just went through this with my four year old because
Aileen: a cat and then we lost a grandma and it was heartbreaking and devastating, but, it’s also, but it was every step of the way we were anticipating what was going to happen next. And for him, it was, we just need to explain very frankly, what was going on and what had happened, that they weren’t here anymore. And he was like, okay. And he was like, sad about it, but he accepted it and he processed it. And I think it probably came through in some temper tantrums later on. But we feel like we have to shield kids from so much, but there’s such a huge benefit for just being like very upfront with them. Like Mr. Rogers did that. Beautiful. I mean, know, he, he just,
Lauren: Oh yeah.
Aileen: a, he had a fish that
Lauren: He’s the best.
Aileen: the fish is dead. His body stopped working. We’re going to go bury it in the yard. Like that was an episode. And you’re sort of like, my God, you’re saying this to kids, but it’s more because of our baggage that comes with how hard it is, death is for us. But kids are like, oh, okay.
Aileen: [00:30:00] thing.
Josie: But also it’s like, I think books give us the opportunity to prepare for those momentous things that happen to us. It’s like, When you read about something and you understand the opportunity of it, it’s not as shocking, like one of the things about Jess and the way that he dealt with, the death, uh,
Josie: one of the things, it was like, he was so shocked by it. And I was wondering like, I mean, I know he grew up on a farm, but how much, how much death he had encountered because his first instinct, in fact, the whole chapter is called now. Like he just refuses to accept that she’s dead. And in a way I think books allow us to prepare for these things so that it’s not that. You know that soul shockingly horrible, that it’s not like this is something that isn’t even possible for her to be dead. Like it’s just not, it can’t ever happen if you’ve read and you’ve acquainted your emotions with those things, it’s sort of like, well, I know that this can happen. And I think that brings you one step closer to healing in a way. And I think these books that we’re trying to protect our kids [00:31:00] from, or we’re like, oh my God, that’s too much. Definitely has to do with our baggage. I think first and foremost, but word we’re denying them this opportunity to be exposed to something and know that it’s out there so that when it does happen to them, it happens to all of us. Like all of this stuff happens to us. a little bit more prepared for it.
Aileen: Yeah. One of the first things I did we were dealing with death with my four year old is I was, I was like, Lauren, you’re a librarian. What books, What good, what are good children’s books on death? I now have basically like I have like a, have like a grief library now because it just helped. Cause I could talk to him in a certain extent, but I felt like there are so many authors out there. who do such a great job explaining it to kids that age, because it’s a really hard thing to accept.
Alisa: and I think books are the kind of thing that they meet you where you’re at. And so we might be really worried about a book being too much for a kid. Parts of that book will go over their head and they won’t to it. And so kids will [00:32:00] pull out of a book what they’re ready to pull out of. Um, then, and that’s, that makes it safe to have the feelings that you’re having. And I mean, that’s why I have one book that I always go back to. And I saw when I read it?
Lauren: Which one is that Alyssa?
Alisa: bridges and Madison county,
Alisa: I know romantic
Lauren: you wouldn’t tip isn’t tip the one who likes the
Lauren: isn’t her husband, the one who likes the Nicholas Sparks movies.
Alisa: notebook to me one night.
Lauren: You guys are perfect for each
Alisa: I think books are a safe exploration of feeling. And as a kid, when, if you’ve never experienced death, but you can start to understand it through these characters, then, you know, I think you were the one that said like, you can help prepare you for when you’re going to have to deal with it in real life. Or was that you Aileen. You’re are both brilliant. You either of, you could have it.
Lauren: So I really want to hear what Josie’s [00:33:00] book is.
Josie: I picked pride and prejudice and it’s not because it was the first book that me into reading. That was actually Anna Green Gables. And I was like, Lauren, you scoped me. But for me. Pride and prejudice was super special because. not just because it’s a great book, but because my sister, Martha and I used to share bunk beds and, um, we used to share books, like, especially when it was super cold, like w I mean, you guys know, I grew up in a big family and we didn’t have any, like, we had no money. And, um, in the winter we get super cold, but we w you know, we couldn’t really turn the heat on for many hours a day. So like, after it got dark, we’d have to turn the heat off because we couldn’t afford the bill. So my sister and I used to cuddle up and we used to like, wrap ourselves up as tight as we could, because then we’d be like sitting there shivering and we’d read back and forth chapter by chapter to each other. And that’s what we would do at night. Yeah, we’d have to turn off all the TVs and like no electricity and only one light in the room. So we’d be all bundled up and we’d pass the [00:34:00] book back and forth to each other. And for me, it was first of all, can I just say, Jane Austin read aloud. There’s a reason they keep making movies of these books and not just because they’re great stories, but because there are just these moments where her prose, just hearing them aloud, you fall in love with language. You fall in love with the way that people talk to each other. And you also fall in love with the characters. They’re just so special and
Lauren: you know, Josie, I think that those books were meant to be read aloud. That’s that’s what they did for entertainment, you know?
Alisa: That was the first book I re-read pride and prejudice was almost the book I picked.
Josie: or connected at the brain,
Aileen: we all, we all picked books by female authors with
Alisa: I was gonna say, I was just trying to figure that out.
Josie: And that was another thing. I mean, Jane Austin was just leaps and bounds ahead of her day and age. And just as a writer, you know, such a shining example, but was one of those things where I with my sister and the book was about all these sisters who were living together [00:35:00] and they were poor. Like they were sisters who lived on this, you know, and they were embarrassed by the clothes that they wore and they were, you know, sort of thrown out into society, like quick, get a husband. And they were like, all right, I’m going to go to a husband. And my sisters and I were all sort of like weren’t like that. They were like, get an education because you know, we can’t pay for college. So you’re just gonna have to figure it out. Um, It was, it was such the same situation. And we also had a farm and they grew up in this rural country house and felt such a connection to it and reading it with my sister and the relationship between the sisters was so genuine to us. Like we were reading it and even the things that they didn’t tell each other
Josie: were like, when Elizabeth and her sister were not talking and they were withholding stuff, my sister and I used to do that all the time.
Josie: this weird thing that develops, and I’ve never seen it so brilliantly executed in a book. connected with it so [00:36:00] deeply that, I mean, I’ll just, I’ll never forget that winter. We must’ve read that book to each other two, three times.
Lauren: a couple of things about Jane Austin. That bothers me though. Josie. Like aren’t the mothers there’s always, or no, no. You know what? That’s not true. I was going to say the mothers are all so flitty or like, you know, single-minded about husbands, but then again, like, um, persuasion, I think is the one that takes place in bath. Yeah. I love that movie.
Josie: Yep. Yeah,
Lauren: who’s a real flake. So, um, I think I’m wrong about that point.
Josie: no, but in pride and prejudice, both of her parents are flakes. Like her dad is this guy. He like, you know, he kind of can’t be bothered. Not that he can’t be bothered. He’s just more interested in his books and his bugs and like all of the weird stuff that he’s
Alisa: nothing wrong with books And, bugs, by the way, add some rocks in there and you’ve got a date.
Lauren: it’s the scientist, but let’s not, let’s not forget about Darcy.
Alisa: Mr. Darcy.
Josie: Mr. Darcy. [00:37:00] Oh my God, I always, I was always like, he’s such a jackass. like, why does he get it? I love to listen. I don’t know for, with him. He was, and then of course he redeemed himself in the end, but through the whole book, I was like, why does everyone love this guy? He’s a dink, like, why isn’t he better?
Lauren: horse sexy kind of rich guy. I
Josie: No, No, No, but also it’s genuine. It’s sort of like, he’s not going to throw himself after her. Like he’s, you know, that guys don’t do that. They don’t like, I’m going to send you roses every day until you fall at my feet, they get in fights and they talk about stuff and they argue, and, and that’s when they fall in love and that’s much more genuine, you know, so that book was always special to me, but just, it was more of like an a, I dunno if it was about the book itself, it was more how I read it and how I shared it. And I always think about, you know, sharing books with somebody and connecting through that [00:38:00] book is being such a special thing. Um, It’s one of the things that I love most about reading is being able to give a book to someone else or read it with them and
Josie: It’s and It’s so much more powerful than going to see A movie with someone. I don’t know why.
Lauren: no, I agree with you on that.
Aileen: Totally unrelated, but just because I heard this recently and I want to ask you
Aileen: sensitivity readers, have you heard of this? Do you use them?
Josie: had them. Oh yeah, no, I’ve had them. Yeah. I actually had, I had, we did a whole reprinting of star-crossed in the UK. Like they put out a box set with new covers. Um, like a year ago I did the edits with a new editor. Oh, super cute. My new editor, the sensitivity editor who went through it and was just like, Hey look, 10 years ago. It was cool to say this. It’s not cool to say this anymore. That’s just got to leave the book now. And I was like, okay. Yeah, this is the way things change. And I’m growing, I’m learning. And I want [00:39:00] my books to grow and to be given that opportunity to re-edit your books and go back and say, you know what? You’re right. I, I had it wrong and this is, this shouldn’t be in the book. Um, it was a great opportunity for me. So she no joke. The first time star cross came out. She was a new girl in a new school. And her best friend gave her that book and was like, you should just read this like a new girl that she didn’t know. And they became best friends through star cross. wound up my editor at McMillan and UK. Wrote me. They, the best friend said, I need you to sign this for Cimarron. She’s like my best friend. She’s new at school. We’d love this book. It’ll make her feel so great for her birthday. And I remember writing her this long thing and signing of the book. And like eight years later, She’s this really high-powered editor at McMillan, UK. Like that’s nuts, but, um, I’m grateful for it. I’m grateful for [00:40:00] sensitivity. Anytime somebody stops and they say, think about this. Think about what it’s like to be an Asian girl reading this and always talking about I did it because I wanted Helen to be super tall and she had jeans that never came to her ankles. That’s like the beginning of the book. And she had this petite, beautiful Asian American friend, Japanese descent who was tiny. And she always wanted, like Helen always wanted to be smaller. And she was always trying to like fit into Claire shadow type of thing, just to try to hide herself. And it never worked because her friend was like that big, but they’re like, every time you emphasize how small and Asian-American is, you’re making that person feel small. And I was like, you know what? We’re going to take all that crap out of that book. I was doing it for a character reason, but I see now how a reader could misinterpret it and that’s got to go or interpreted in a way that, that makes them feel bad, you know? And I don’t want any of my readers to feel bad.
Aileen: you have to request a sensitivity reader or does every author automatically [00:41:00] have someone who looks at their book
Josie: You don’t you, first of all, once your book is sold you have very little control over who your editor is or what happens to it. Like they, they basically own the book now. And, , you get a sensitivity author, I think you’re lucky, but that sort of thing is it’s super brand new. And I know that some people are chafing against it. I just, I see it as an opportunity to learn and grow. I never mind getting, I love notes, but somebody gives me notes. I’m like, okay, this is how somebody else in the world sees it. And I have to take that into consideration because I want everyone to read my book, you know? And if one of my readers, including this editor says this doesn’t work, or this hurts me, but this makes me feel less as a person. I have to listen to that because I don’t want to do that to anyone. Sensitivity readers are new. Um, but there at all of the big imprints now, and, um, if you were to go to a smaller imprint, they’re becoming hyper aware of [00:42:00] it. And I personally, I think it’s a great thing.
Aileen: So it’s
Josie: And they’re really conscious now, like all of the major labels are super conscious now of bringing in people of color because you know, one of the best things about books is to give people who feel like they’re outsiders, who, who are marginalized, who have been oppressed to tell their story.
Alisa: I think,
Josie: or at least I think that’s, and it’s idealized since that’s what it’s supposed to be.
Alisa: well, there are so many voices to be heard and. You know, we only know what we know. We don’t even know what we don’t know. And I think the responsible thing is you have to, have to bring in other voices so that you can have a complete well-rounded picture. I mean, that makes sense. And it makes sense in every I mean, as a woman in science, that’s something that’s happening in science to, you know, trying to have all the [00:43:00] voices at the table and, and helping people learn how to make room at the table for other voices.
Josie: So final thoughts, Lauren, final thoughts about Anna Green Gable.
Lauren: Well, I’m glad it enticed me to read. I don’t know if you guys remember Shaw’s Plaza
Josie: Oh, yeah.
Josie: Oh, yeah.
Lauren: that was just a field, but I remember when they developed it and that was a new Plaza and there was a bookstore there and I mean, Alyssa and Aileen, you Josie lived across town. We would walk over down to like masons and mom’s ice cream and stuff, but I would go down there and browse for books and because it was like, I could go there on foot. And I would just, after reading
Lauren: green Gables or deciding, I actually wanted to be a reader and like enjoyed reading. That was my next step was going to buy a little paperback so that I could afford, you know, even if it was
Josie: That’s fantastic.
Lauren: it wasn’t [00:44:00] babysitter’s club. And I can’t remember the name of it. It was those twins, those blonde Arion twins. Do you guysremember those books?
Aileen: Oh, yes,
Lauren: super white and
Lauren: no, no. no.
Aileen: lived in California.
Lauren: were like, perfect. you know, read a few of those, um, after that, but you know, they diversified finally at some point and read out their things, but, um, So, yeah, I have to credit that, that PBS, Anne of green Gables TV show, and then reading the books for me to continue being a reader.
Josie: How about you?
Aileen: Um, I just, I’ve always loved Beverly clearly, and Judy bloom, they’ve stuck with me my entire life and I don’t, my memory sucks. I’m not going to lie. That they just going back and reading Ramona Quimby was great because it’s actually a really well written book. Like it was written by an author who obviously a lot of respect for kids [00:45:00] and it’s just, it’s, well-written, it’s an, it, her characters are just really interesting and well developed. And think there’s some value for grownups to go back and read the books that they read as kids. And just kind of look at them with adult perspective, especially if you’re a parent going back and
Aileen: things from your kid’s point of view and that the way, you know, are with your kids now and just, I don’t know, it’s just, it’s kind of a beautiful thing to go back and read the books that you read as a kid.
Josie: Yeah, it really is. And then how about you Alyssa bridge to Terabithia?
Alisa: have never read anything else by Catherine Patterson. I, and I think that would be something I’d be interested in now, you know, just to go back and see what else she’s written and see how that might to me. Um, and I think Aileen you’re right, you know, going back and rereading some of these books is, is so interesting to have the memories of our kid perspective and then to see it as an adult. [00:46:00] I don’t know.
Alisa: I’ll look and see what else she has. And something I’m excited for.
Josie: For me, um, pride and prejudice is sort of remembering what it is to share a book with somebody And pass the book along and make that an experience in itself. Just reading together, I think is so it’s so important. We think of it as this lonely little exercise, but
Josie: in truth, it’s everybody who’s read the same book that you’ve read has lived in that same spot in their head that you have. And that’s such a beautiful thing to me. Okay. Thanks you guys. Oh my God. We went way over time, but this was super fun.
Aileen: One of the best Saturday Saturday nights I’ve had in a while. I don’t know what that
Josie: I’ve had two glasses of wine and I’m tanked. I’m so happy.
Lauren: Yeah, Thank you. guys. It’s good to hear that. And, um,
Lauren: I just want to make a comment about Aileen, you know, the fact that she hates writing, but she’s actually quite [00:47:00] good at it.
Josie: Yeah. Such a good writer.
Lauren: way that you admire Beverly Cleary, I think that for the reasons you admire her, that you should be a children’s writer and you should consider doing that,
Aileen: well, that’s interesting.
Josie: my God.
Aileen: I’m going to keep coming back here
Josie: I’ve never.
Aileen: compliments. This is so nice.
Lauren: You’re my favorite library patron at the moment. So,
Josie: Okay, so thanks everyone. And I guess that’s good night.
Alisa: Bye friends.
Josie: Bye everyone.
Well, that’s it for our very first episode of fiction between friends. You can find links to the books in the show notes on our email@example.com. Please keep in mind that this is a work in progress and feedback is greatly appreciated. The theme of our next episode will be books about friendship. Be sure to come back and join us.
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