Friday, August 16, 2019

Traveling, Page by Page - By Michele Weber Hurwitz

I grew up in the late seventies in a middle class suburb of Chicago comprised of stay-at-home moms, ornery poodles, summer days at the public pool, bologna on white bread with red Kool-aid, and front seats of cars that were as long as a sofa. Looking back, it was a lovely, idyllic childhood. But when I was young, it was absolutely, positively boring. Nothing all that exciting ever happened, except the time my brother decided to moon the cantor at our synagogue. But that's another story.

I had to go somewhere to find excitement, and where I found it was in the pages of beloved books like Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and Heidi by Johanna Spyri.

Oh, to live on a remote island away from my annoying brothers! To fish for my dinner (even though I hated fish), and make my own shelter from palm leaves! To fend for myself and eat when I wanted, not be called down to the dinner table when my dad pulled up exactly at 5:30. To confront real danger!

Or to meet larger-than-life people named Billy Bones and Black Dog, not Mrs. Dietch at the end of the block who yelled at kids for stepping in her flower bed. To search for treasure with a real map where X marks the spot. To dig and dig, finally hit the chest with my shovel, and open it to find jewels and gold coins galore!

Honestly, I was convinced there was treasure buried in my backyard, or at least, an Indian arrowhead. Never did find either.

And to have a grandfather who lived on a mountain like Heidi's! Mine lived in a retirement home on a busy city street and got in line for dinner at 4 p.m.

I firmly believe that the stories we read when we're young stay with us long into adulthood and shape the people we become. I think those books I cherished planted in me the desire to (actually) travel and meet people who aren't part of my normal, every day life. This year, I took a hiking trip in Death Valley and a long weekend in sultry, mysterious Savannah. I didn't come across anyone named Black Dog but I'm still hoping.
In between trips, I still travel on the page. I'm currently taking a break from reading middle grade and I'm deep into the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrente - immersive stories of the lives and friendship of two women in 1950s/1960s Naples, Italy. I feel like I'm there.

Find Michele online at micheleweberhurwitz.com. Her newest middle grade novel, set in a small Wisconsin town, is coming May 2020 from Wendy Lamb Books/Penguin Random House.

6 comments:

  1. I am definitely a Dickens Fan. A CHRISTMAS CAROL is my personal favorite. I enjoyed this post Bobbi.

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  2. This resonated with me so much, Michele. For my sister and me, it was the "Adventure" books of British author Enid Blyton: CASTLE OF ADVENTURE, RIVER OF ADVENTURE, ISLAND OF ADVENTURE, SEA OF ADVENTURE, CIRCUS OF ADVENTURE. How we longed for even one adventure of our own - but how many we found in the pages of these books.

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  3. Thank you, Darlene and Claudia! May we continue to find adventure :)

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  4. Positively delightful,Michele. Took me right back to my childhood and the enchanting, adventurous, fun world of Enid Blyton beginning with her fairy folk and slowly becoming a part of the Famous Five, the Five Find -outers and then then the cheeky Tom Sawyer and his adventures with Huck Finn... Oh the list is endless. Still lose myself in books and hope to do so forever more!

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  5. Thank you so much, Sumeet! Couldn't agree more!

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  6. I love this so much! And didn't we all wish for that island growing up!

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