Writers are my movie stars.
There are the writers who got me through childhood, and writers who changed the way I thought about writing, and others whose names I chanted to give me courage in the months leading up to the release of my memoir, Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home. I can’t forget my writing mentors in grad school or the yet-unpublished writers I am dying to see emerge into the world. There are so very many writers I fangirl over, but I’m going to tell you a story about my newest obsessive writer crush—Katherine Applegate.
My youngest son is a raconteur, a world builder, a crafter of stories, but he doesn’t particularly love reading. In fact, I’d classify him as a reluctant reader.
This past winter, I took him to Judy Blume’s bookstore and we actually met her (OMG) and she is so freaking amazing and kind and down to earth. I encouraged him to pick out a book, and he chose The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. I wasn’t exactly thrilled about this because I knew he had already read it at school the year before, but I agreed and also bought him Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing because how could he not love it as much as I had?
He ignored my selection and read The One and Only Ivan again. As soon as he finished it, he started it a third time. I had to read that book and see why he was so captivated by it. He asked me every day how far I’d gotten—eager for me to devour the story so we could talk about it.
It is a beautiful, tragic, sad, and poignant book, and I love it fiercely. I loved it so much that I bought myself a gorilla charm and added it to the elephant necklace my son had bought me for my birthday.
A few months later, my youngest and I went to his school’s book fair, and I spied Wishtree, also by Katherine Applegate. I read the back, and the description didn’t grab me, so I put it down. When we got to the cashier, however, I ran back to table and rescued it. I somehow couldn’t leave that gorgeous hardcover like an unloved, left-behind creature. It, too, made me sob. I bought Crenshaw, and my reluctant reader absconded with it and made me promise to let him read it first, so I began Home of the Brave. Her writing is simple, clear, and oh, so so so beautiful in every book.
I clicked on Katherine Applegate’s author page on Amazon, and was delighted to learn that she has written a plethora of books—I’ll have plenty of opportunities to fangirl for quite some time.