Bigger than a Bread Box is about divorce/separation. It’s also about a magical vintage bread box that grants wishes, and about a kid adjusting to life in a new school, and about poetry and snack cakes. But most of all, it’s about parents who are having trouble with each other and their daughter trying to make sense of that. I know this sounds “sad” and “heavy” and “like a big downer.” But it’s important to me.
Grownups control the way divorce gets discussed. But kids experience it too. Grownups really need to believe, when splitting up, that “divorce is for the best” or that “we’ll all come through it okay” because “kids are so resilient.” Their need to believe these things affects the way they talk about divorce… and the way they remember it too.
But even when divorces are for the best (they often are), and even when the kids will be fine (they usually will) the experience for the kids can be painful, or scary, or confusing. Of course it can. But the kids don’t want to stress how that’s true, because they are often so aware of the pain their parents are going through. They don’t want to make it worse. So they keep it inside, a lot. Or they act out in other ways. (or they grow up and write books about it, I guess)
At the same time, kids also know that they aren’t supposed to ENJOY the divorce exactly , the two bedrooms, the pizza nights with dad, the extra attention, the double summer vacations. Because something “bad” is happening. So it’s like there’s this acceptable range of emotion–sad but not too sad. Weird, right? When the split itself is a huge and individual experience. Different for each family, each kid.
I didn’t set out to write an issue book at all. I set out to write a book about a magical box. But then the box turned complicated, and suddenly, the book was about divorce. When I realized that I tried really hard to make it particular, personal, detailed. I tried not to make it heavyhanded, but to root it in character, experience. I tried to recall both the hard and the good.
I wrote this book inspired by my own childhood experience of divorce. It’s mine. It’s my own very specific memories, as a kid, squashed together with my adult understanding of the world, and my imagination. I did the best I could. But now I can’t stop wondering about what YOU might have written.
And so–what I would love love love is to hear from you, from all of you. I wonder what your thoughts/impressions/memories of divorce are? Start with the smallest details. Can you remember anything from the day you “found out?” Are there, maybe, things you really enjoyed about the experience? Was there a moment of acceptance? Was there conflict? Did things get scary? Did your parents work it out in the end, or remarry? Has it affected your adult life? Did you switch schools? Move? Did your parents date after that? Did you wish your father would marry your pretty Hebrew School teacher? (I did)
Will you tell me a story?
Or maybe you’d rather share your impressions of someone else’s family? Maybe you watched your best friend go through a hard time? Maybe you read about divorce in books, and worried for your own family? Maybe your parents fought and you wished they’d split up?
Please consider posting something to your own blog about this. If you do,maybe you’ll also kindly include the cover to my book (because hey! I have a book coming out, and I need all the help I can get), and link back to this post? Then I’ll post a link to your blogs right here, and we can all see what we see…
When I told some people I was going to try this, the response (with the exception of a few voices) was NO! People said it would be too negative. But I have to believe there are people like me, who want to share these memories, these thoughts. That our grownup selves haven’t entirely overwhelmed our childhood memories…
Prove me right?
Kelly has posted a truly amazing story over at THE MIDDLE IS THE BEST PLACE TO BE– about how a grownup remembers what she wanted as a kid, and talks about what it feels like to get your wish.
Over at The Furnace, Madelyn has given us the color of her memories, the flavor of those years, and made me want to cry, remembering our own cornbread dinners.
At A Mom’s SPare Time, Ami has mananged to weave a (generous, thank you) review of my book into a story about her parents’ divorce, which I find truly surprising. fairly inspiring, and maybe totally brilliant.
Colby Sharp shares a story from a clear-eyed brave young students, and makes me want to cry.
Kurtis, the author of Tanglewood Terror (see above) chimes in.
At Saints and Spinners, Farida posts about small pleasures (3 sets of grandparents) and the pains (secret keeping).
And while you’re here, stop and read the comments. Some touching things down there.