Tuesday, December 8, 2020


"One of these days you going have to turn around and look at whatever it is you running from."
                                 Willie to Bell in The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

Pandemic + retired from teaching + cold weather = lots of books and movies

A clear theme has emerged in my recent choices of books and movies: central characters who, as children, lived in unstable, chaotic, and downright traumatic situations. Am I choosing these or are they choosing me? 

Here, briefly are my latest diversions (all highly recommended):


The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett


The Queen's Gambit

Hillbilly Elegy (this is actually a memoir)


I love good stories and don't want to give anything away about these titles shared above...you should discover them yourself. I love how early childhood played such a significant role in these stories.

As an early childhood educator, I believe passionately in how our earliest years impact our whole lives. Adult problems are regularly rooted in childhood - affecting how you see yourself, how you communicate with others, and what you believe about the world. Our earliest years inform what we study and seek to know, where and with whom we feel most comfortable, and even our overall resilience. 

When I finish a good book or movie, I like to think about the writing that went into the storytelling. In each of these recent shows/books I've loved, the authors grappled with the lingering effects of childhood, bringing 'threads' forward, having them continue to resonate in the characters' adult lives. For me, the whole story becomes more believable - I start to 'see' why things happen. Which brings me right back to one of my core beliefs - we can offset many future problems if we provide safe, healthy, and joyful childhoods for our youngest. 

(However, does 'happy' make for dull storytelling? Ha!)

What's funny is, my thinking about all of this is so circular . . . did the authors set out to emphasize childhood, or do I bring that into my understanding of the story because early childhood is so important to me? What do I bring into my very listening? What do others take away when they indulge in these same stories? 

Rich writing takes us many different places.


I wrote this post for Slice of Life.  All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, on Tuesdays. Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!


  1. My addition equation is a little different than yours (i.e., foot surgery + global pandemic), but it has resulted in me reading a lot more books. I'm reading A Promised Land right now. Next up is Last Tang Standing.

  2. I have Transcendent Kingdom and The Vanishing Half in my TBR pile. I keep getting diverted by nonfiction and poetry. I love The Queens Gambit but am not a fan of Hillbilly Elegy, neither the memoir nor the movie. It really stereotypes Appalachia. I love your opening quote. I’ll add The Twelve Tribes of Hattie to my TBR pile.