Besides the joy of seeing a project that my remarkable agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, ushered into existence, I was also happily surprised to find that the yellow shoes on the cover of the book are the same yellow shoes I own.
Two years ago, one of our neighbors here in York gave me a pair of yellow shoes that would satisfy the Fulford Indoor Bowls Club regulations. I had been bowling in hiking boots--something that dismayed the elderly men and women with whom I bowl every Thursday night. The indoor mats don't take kindly to those high rubber ridges. I was in need of flat shoes with no money to purchase flat shoes.
Introduce the yellow gifts of love! My neighbor had heard of the predicament and one evening knocked on our door. When I opened, she stood there holding the exact same yellow shoes you see on the cover of Break These Rules.
Now I just need to find some fabulous-looking argyle socks to complete the wardrobe.
In the meantime: the essays in this book are essays I wish I had when I was a teenager. They are essays about dressing to match who you are rather than dressing to match who everyone else is. They are essays about being male or female less in the Hollywood, strict code-of-conduct way and more in the freedom-expanding way. They are essays about moving money way down on the priority list, giving the need to "be cool" a vacation, and both speaking boldly and also allowing quietness to be powerful. These essays explore the strict notions of status-quo living that so many teenagers (and, ahem, adults) constantly face.
Break These Rules is a book that arises out of needs I saw in myself as a teenager--and, yes, as an adult--and needs I saw and see in my students. Sometimes, we only learn to explore new possibilities when others share their explorations with us. Poet Theodore Roethke famously wrote, "I learn by going where I have to go." In Break These Rules, 35 authors bravely and vulnerably shared where's they've gone and what they've learned by breaking the rules of a status-quo society.
My hope is that these essays will show teenagers and adults alike that there are other ways of being oneself in the world; there are ways to be courageous and kind and beautiful and bold that don't involve doing things the way they've always been done.
All of the royalties from this project are being given to the Children's Defense Fund.
Here are the awesome authors who have kindly and bravely shared their rule-breaking adventures and admonishments within the book:
Kathy Erskine, Sara Zarr, Josh Berk, Carl Deuker, Francisco X. Stork, Matthew Quick, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Leslie Connor, Wendy Mass, Carol Lynch Williams, Gary D. Schmidt, A.S. King, Neesha Meminger, Lisa Schroeder, Mike Jung, Anna Staniszewski, Jen Nielsen, Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Jennifer Ziegler, Brian Yansky, Chris Barton, Tara Lazar, Natalie Dias Lorenzi, Jennifer Reynolds, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Mitali Perkins, Margo Rabb, Lisa Burstein, Rob Buyea, Chris Lynch, Pat Schmatz, Sayantani DasGupta, Tamara Ellis Smith, and Thanhha Lai.