I was invited to speak to a Latina seventh grade group at CC Griffin Middle School in Harrisonburg, North Carolina on Tuesday. I decided that I would tell them a little about my life and my career path and then read them the few parts of the book that reveal episodes that took place in middle school. They heard about my first kiss, my first bra (Jenny, they were mortified that I sprayed you up like that in the mall. Again, I’m sorry!), and even (although this happened in high school) my first date (and how I had to beg, bargain, and plead my way into it–Mamacita was strict!).
When I asked them if they had questions, I was so tickled by what they asked. In between what’s life like as a writer and how did publishing a book change your life (God bless them, I think they think I am as famous as the Stephanie woman who wrote the Twilight books), they asked how I felt during my first kiss (“like I wanted to throw up, I was so nervous,” I told them) and if I had married the man that I had gone out with on that first date. I just loved how unabashed they were. We also talked about how I changed the names of the people in the book who I was no longer in touch with and who certainly hadn’t asked to be included in the book, what my parents thought about me telling personal stories, how long it took to write, and when and how I wrote. When the bell rang, the girls got up to leave, thanking me. One of the girls looked at me and said, “I’ve never met an author before” and that was a pretty cool moment for me because I could tell it meant something to her.
Seventh grade is such a tender age, and I was really excited and touched to get the opportunity to be with the girls. And it was fun, for just a minute, to relive the giggling embarrassment of that first kiss and that first very special date. There’s not much I’d go back to middle school for, but this group of girls was definitely worth it.