Hidden Gems: Epiphany Moments

Whatever book I'm reading, whether it's the shortest picture book or a sweeping epic novel, I always read for a certain moment, when the main character learns something about herself or her world, some truth about the human condition that allows her to go forward and face whatever needs to be faced. Often called "epiphany moments," these contain the hidden gems I read to discover.

Now, sometimes the "hidden gem" truths laid bare by a story are not hidden enough: we are rightly wary of stories that seem too clearly bent on teaching a lesson, preaching a sermon, proclaiming a message or a moral. And sometimes the "hidden gem" truths are not gem-like enough: they are trite bits of commonsense wisdom and truth that, on closer look, are neither wise nor true.

But sometimes I'm given such a piercing insight from a story that it takes my breath away. I have to run to my trusty little notebook and jot it down to save forever.

Here are two of my favorites from books I've read recently:

"You can't run away from who you are, but what you can do is run toward who you want to be." - Jason Reynolds, Ghost

"You make your choices or the world makes them for you." Jennifer Bertman, The Unbreakable Code

This year's Newbery medal winner, Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly, is absolutely stuffed with observations like:

"Sometimes life calls on you even when you don't raise your hand." 

And this one:

"Of all the questions you ever ask yourself in life, never ask, 'What's the point?' It's the worst question in the world." 

Sometimes as an author I've been reluctant to spell out "the big idea" in a story too explicitly, too bluntly and baldly, preferring to leave this to readers to distill in their own way. But looking through this list of "hidden gem" truths I so treasure, I'm starting to think there's lasting value in presenting these excavated gems lucidly for our readers so their jewel-like brilliance can shine forth in all their brightness.


  1. I love the Jason Reynolds quote! Wow!

    And the last quote, on the worst question in the world, that's profound. It's EXACTLY what I needed to read today. Thank you!

  2. Thanks, Bobbi. These gems blew me away when I first read them, too.

  3. Oooh. Love the Reynolds quote, too.


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