Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Thing About Jerry Spinelli...

Is, in short, that on any page of any of his books, I can find a sentence that I'd like to write on an index card and carry around in my pocket. Just to re-read it and be awakened to the rhythm, power, and redemption in our lives.

Ever since I read Wringer, I was hooked.

I just finished Spinelli's Love, Stargirl, the sequel to his enormously powerful (and popular) Stargirl. I read the original five times a year with my seventh graders, for two years. Ten reads in class, combined with two on my own, and the book still jived with my soul. Spinelli--like Kathy Erskine, Jacqueline Woodson, Gary Schmidt--has a remarkable way of getting to the height of emotion in every scene, without overshooting and without missing any power, however subtle or silent.

Reading the last lines of Love, Stargirl, I felt an immense gratitude: to be able to read a book and be moved to rethink my own perspective; to feel both peace and challenge speak; to be inspired to continue crafting and revising my own novels; to listen to the life of another.

I'm onto Okay for Now, by Gary Schmidt, which, too, makes my heart beat fast. I'm grateful for the words.