Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why I Wrote This Book

During my years as a high school English teacher, my students and I studied the background of each author before we read a novel. This gave us a glimpse of the events and circumstances that most likely caused the author to form the opinions that drove the message of the novel. For example, Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, was a young girl during the 1931 landmark Scottsboro Boys interracial rape case. She often heard her defense attorney father and his peers deliberating the case, and most likely her social conscience was in part shaped by their concern for justice. As an adolescent, Harper considered following in her father’s footsteps to fight against the depravity of racism. Choosing instead to wage war through her novel, Ms. Lee reached far more people than could have been expected had she become an attorney. Likewise, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, appalled by the racism and hatred of the slave-driven society in which she lived, also proclaimed her message through writing. According to her son, upon meeting Harriet,  Abraham Lincoln, remarked, “So, you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.” Who can deny the power of words?

Please forgive any allusion to a comparison between my simple, unknown children’s book, “But, Mama, How Come Grandpa Gets To?,” and the afore-mentioned literary masterpieces. My only intent is to say that authors don’t always sit down one day and make a conscious decision to become authors. Rather, they are often driven to write because they are so deeply impacted by the circumstances of life. Such was the case with me.

Arriving home from a stressful day at work as a middle school principal a few years ago, I was greeted by a trail of mud that led from the back of the house to the front of the house and culminated in a pile on the couch, compliments of my happy-go-lucky father-in-law who was in his third year of living with us. Trying to remain calm, I swept what I could and went to the bathroom to wet a rag to clean the rest. Finding another mess of a different sort, I was about at my limit. I went to my bedroom, sat on the edge of my bed, fought hot, angry tears and asked myself, “Why do we live like this? Why do we give up our comforts for the sake of his?”

But, Mama, How Come Grandpa Gets To?” is the answer to those questions. My hope and prayer is that you will be strengthened and encouraged by its message. My deepest appreciation to Raquel Benatar, president and managing editor of Renaissance House, and to Laredo Publishing for believing in my message and investing their time and energy into publishing and promoting the book. Their sincere dedication and diligence to every minute detail along the way is greatly appreciated.

One last thought for now. Reflecting once again on my days as an English teacher, displayed in the front of my classroom was a most thought-provoking quote by Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor, Eli Wiesel. I began each school year with students writing a response to the following quote that led to a rich, classroom discussion.

“Of what value is your faith, your education, your social standing if it arouses neither conscience nor compassion for your fellow man?”  I leave you to ponder your own response to such a poignant question, but hope it will guide your faith, your education, and your social standing to strengthen your compassion for all, including the elderly.



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