As the calendar changes to November, thoughts turn to the upcoming holidays and family traditions. Along with favorite cookie recipes and the heirloom decorations, let’s spend some time at The Lamp-Post with three books that feature families – Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina, Granny Torrelli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech, and The Wild Robot by Peter Brown.
Bruce and Sara sat down with fellow Richmonder Meg Medina for a warm and touching conversation about families in all of their loving, loud, and sometime flawed glory.
We hear from Meg about her own experience growing up surrounded by aunts, cousins, and grandparents who all took part in raising her, and how that experience helps her build her stories. We also talk about the importance of honesty when writing for young people, even when – or especially when – the topics are challenging or uncomfortable. Here are some highlights:
Living intergenerationally as a child and then again as an adult: (3:48-8:35)
“Something that’s instilled in you is the sense of sacrifice that your family has made on your behalf. That is a huge weight to carry around as a kid. And yet, it’s there. … It plays in all sorts of ways. Sometimes you resent that weight. Sometimes you love it. Sometimes we have to pay it back.”
Meg reading an excerpt from Merci Suárez Changes Gears (10:48-10:55)
The support of living intergenerationally: (16:39-20:02)
“There is a sense that a family is a ranging thing, across time, across relationships, intermarriages. It’s a wonderful support system. … Often you see a unity that is really beautiful.”
Writing with about challenging topics: (23:27-27:40)
“It feels like a huge responsibility when you are writing into these really delicate, painful, life-changing spaces that you do it respectfully and you do it in a way that even though you’re reopening and looking at something hard, that you are doing it with enormous compassion and love and hope.”
Including the arc of Lolo’s Alzheimer’s disease across the Merci trilogy: (35:15-39:34)
“All those happy things still happen right alongside these earth shattering things. There was something to that sweet and sour that felt realistic to me.”
Writing from honesty: (40:13-40:56)
“You promised to tell the truth.”
What’s coming next from Meg (48:22-49:58)
On her upcoming nonfiction book about Pura Belpré – “I am convinced that there is a Broadway play that has to happen.”
For more from Meg, check out her Newbery Speech.