The Hard Stuff by Jody Feldman

I was one of the lucky ones. My home life, if not completely idyllic, was close. Picture a white picket fence, June and Ward Cleaver as parents, and waking every day to blue skies and bluebirds. Maybe not that, but completely wonderful.

I never had to deal with long-term tragedy or extended hardships. Even when situations strayed from the happiness script—and they did—my parents handled them with love and humor and an unspoken (or maybe, spoken) sense that everything would be just fine. I was one of the lucky ones.

But I was also one of the lucky ones when my teachers exposed me, through literature, to other sides of life—disabilities, class struggle, prejudice, and of course, dead dogs, to name a few. Believe me, I didn’t like those books for the way they made me feel—sad, angry, totally uncomfortable. Looking back, though, they were exactly what I needed. With my soft place to fall at home, balancing widening perspectives in the classroom, I was preparing to venture into a world where relatively nothing is nice and neat and perfect.

The books I write may not be filled with tough subjects—I veer toward my default childhood emotions—but I am grateful for those authors who dare to dig deep and tell the stories that too many readers find invaluable as they navigate the hard stuff in their lives. At the same time, they have enormous value to readers like I was; they open our eyes to foreign experiences and allow us to move forward with more understanding, empathy, and compassion. And we are all luckier for that.


  1. I'm with you, Jody--book with tough themes opened my eyes when I was young.


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