Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Make a difference

As usual, I'm a bit behind on book world news.  So this morning after I got the husband off to his new job (that's right!! A new job!  More money!  Yay!), the kids on their assorted buses (4 kids = 3 buses), the dog walked, and most importantly, had my requisite two cups of coffee and cinnamon Pop Tarts, I sat down to catch up with the publishing world.  I do this by reading various blogs, one of which is literary agent Janet Reid's

I read the first post about tweeting etiquette and laughed at the things people do, then I scrolled on down to yesterday's post.  I was appalled.  Absolutely appalled.  Let me summarize the situation for you.  When the National Book Foundation announced their nominees in the YA category, they included Lauren Myracle's book, Shine.  This was a mistake and they meant to nominate Franny Billingsley's, Chime.  Instead of simply adding Chime to the nominee list, there were several very public debates over whether to keep Myracle's book as a nominee.  In the end, they asked Myracle to withdraw. 

My heart breaks for Myracle.  To be told that your book is nominated for a prestigious award and then to endure the spectacle of a public debate over whether your book should stay nominated or be removed from the list would be agonizing.  However, Myracle handled herself with such grace.  She withdrew and then asked the National Book Foundation to donate to the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

To compound the tragedy, Shine is about gay teenager who is beaten and left for dead, and October 12 was the 13 year anniversary of Matthew Shepard's death.  I remember hearing about the brutal attack on Shepard 13 years ago.  My heart broke then.  I struggled to understand how anyone could be so cruel.  I still struggle to understand that.  Now, I'm a parent and that adds a whole new dimension to the crime.  What if that was my child?  How could I live with the knowledge that not only had my child died, but that he had died in such a hateful, brutal fashion?  It makes me want to stand up and scream, "What's wrong with the world?!" 

I want to change it.  I imagine Myracle wants to change it too, and that's why she wrote Shine.  I can not change what happened to Shepard.  I can not change the way the National Book Foundation (mis)handled this situation.  But I can buy Myracle's book, and I can talk about it.  You can too.   And maybe little by little, we can make sure that no one else's child ever has to suffer the way Matthew Shepard did.

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