Characters: Our Traveling Companions

No matter what the story, most would agree that books take us to many places. Sometimes they take us to faraway countries. Other times they allow us inside a new culture. They even, at times, take us to the future or the past. As a reader, I enjoy when a book I read brings me inside a world I know nothing about, but I also love when a story takes me to a familiar place I've been many times before.
As an author, the books I write provide me with that same pleasure as well as the added excitement I feel in knowing that the words I write are a roadmap for the journey my readers will take.

I have just recently completed my newest middle grade novel, When I Hit the Road. It just so happens that it's a travel story. The main character, Samantha, ends up on a road trip with her grandma, and she records her journey by writing letters to her future self. Because I've been working on this book for a while, I've thought a lot about the journey my readers will take when they read When I Hit the Road. I have also thought a lot about how my main character's journey is profoundly impacted by the people she ends up traveling with.

When we travel in real life, the places we go and the things we see and do often end up changing us. But sometimes, it's the people who travel along with us that hold the most significance in the transformation that takes place when we travel. I think this may also be true in our "reading journeys." The characters who tell their stories and take us on our "reading journeys" may be just as important, maybe in some cases even more important, than the places they end up taking us to.

So, do the books I read take me on journeys that often impact my life? A resounding "yes." Do the characters who serve as my guides influence that impact? Most definitely. And do each of those character-led, reading journeys change a little bit of who I am? Absolutely. It's actually one of my favorite reasons to read.

Happy Reading,
Nancy J. Cavanaugh

When I Hit the Road
(Coming Spring 2020 from Sourcebooks for Young Readers)
In this fun and wacky road trip novel from Nancy Cavanaugh, Samantha thinks spending a summer with her Gram will be boring, but when Gram drags Samantha on an unexpected road trip, Samantha’s summer takes a wild turn and becomes one she will never forget.


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