The Perks of Isolation
Isolation has always fascinated me in both books and films. What happens when people are taken from their normal or typical routine and forced to face the limits of being alone?
The Shining. The Haunting of Hill House. Hatchet. The Island of the Blue Dolphins. My Side of the Mountain. Whisper of Death.
These were all some of my favorite books and stories growing up, and even now. The fright and panic is real - but the character that tends to pull through in so many, to not only persevere but to actually thrive - is what is remarkable and keeps me turning the pages.
We have become versions of some of these characters in this strange new world. Writers perhaps, better than most, know what it’s like to have a day-to-day life working in the in-home office. The kids in the background, the dog scratching at the door or a cat across the keyboard, the phone ringing or TV too loud. We have to work around it without going bananas.
This time it’s different, though. It’s scary. There’s a ravaging illness that is threatening us and those we love. It is harder. It is difficult to focus and some days, to find the light.
Still, I believe we will all find that light. By taking are of ourselves, and each other. By not pushing too hard and letting ourselves reflect and read and check in and rest. I deeply hope for the best in that we all find our true, shining character and pull through for ourselves and for each other, even those we have never met or will meet. If we can see in literature how a flawed person takes themselves through isolation, perhaps we, too, can see ourselves doing it, too.
I think its especially important for young readers, who have yet to experience an event of this magnitude, even in a safe or shorter environment.
While not middle grade, my first young adult novel, Break the Spell, focused on isolation. I wanted to see what would happen when two troubled teenagers were finally left with nothing but to face the adversities they’d been avoiding for so, so long when they become locked up in the old high school over a long holiday weekend. There are points it brings out their worst, and times it brings out their best. There are times they make cookies or roller-skate down a hallway or simply read and talk.
I hope, like, at the end of Break the Spell, we all emerge together into the light, ready for a new world. Maybe even a new us.