I have something to confess: I was a really weird, nerdy kid.
I know this may come as a shock to many of you, especially since the Julia you have come to know and love is regal, cosmopolitan, sophisticated and downright cool, but it’s true. I was a weirdo.
In fact, there is living proof in our book club. My oldest and dearest friend, Brigitte Hartt, can attest – I was one strange, obnoxious, book-wormy child. She would know because she was right there with me (equally as bookwormish, but much less weird).
Right through elementary school, we would spends hours upon hours reading novels, discussing what we’d read, and writing. We would write constantly, on any subject – boys we liked, our frienemies, fan fiction, news articles, or our own creative short stories. We wrote so much that we eventually catalogued everything into spiral-bound books (which we kept, of course). We basically had an exclusive club just for the two of us – Bubbles and Jewels, as we dubbed ourselves. We were kindred spirits, I’d say.
I’m sure the reason we’ve stayed friends for 20 years is because we have so much in common. As I mentioned, one of our common interests has always been books. We were always reading and swapping novels, but out of all the authors we came across, we had a clear childhood favourite: Kit Pearson.
I can’t recall – perhaps Brigitte can – how we first encountered Pearson, now a celebrated Canadian author, but I think it was at our school library, probably around grade 4, in 1998. We fell madly in love with her novel The Sky is Falling, and then the next two novels making the Guests of War Trilogy – Looking At The Moon and The Lights Go On Again.
Our appetite for her work was insatiable after that. We proceeded to read every Pearson novel we could get our hands on. To this day, Brigitte’s favourite is A Handful of Time and mine, Awake & Dreaming, won the Govenor General’s Award.
In May, my dad, who has never forgotten our Kit Pearson obsession, sent me a link to a CBC article about Pearson’s latest novel having won the 2012 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award. I promptly added the novel – The Whole Truth – to my 2013 to read list and alerted Brigitte, promising her she could borrow my copy after I’d finished it.
Well, I’ve just done so, and I’m feeling like a kid again – in a great way. Pearson’s writing brought me back at least 15 years to a time when Brigitte and I would curl up in a hammock at the cottage and read for hours on end. I was brought back to the kind of characters that resonated with me as a 10-year-old girl. I’ve changed dramatically since then, but Pearson’s wonderful writing certainly has not.
The Whole Truth is a truly Canadian story, focused on family and following young Polly Brown as she moves from Winnipeg with her sister Maud to live on a small island off the coast of Vancouver in the 1930s. But the sisters hold a secret – a shocking truth – that they can never reveal. It is a simple coming-of-age story, definitely for the younger set, but endearing, interesting and full of subtle life lessons. Even as an adult, it was a pleasure to read and engaging from start to finish. I couldn’t help but think it the type of thing I hope my eventual daughter will read.
Actually, reading The Whole Truth made me realize that I cannot imagine growing up without having read Pearson’s novels. At the time, I certainly underestimated the impact they were having on my love for literature, reading and writing. And of course, Brigitte and I came together over her novels, discussing them, writing about them and re-reading them countless times.
I can’t say it was as good as Awake & Dreaming or The Daring Game, but as an adult, I’m not really in a position to judge. The intended audience is definitely young adult, and sadly… I no longer am one. But I can pride myself on turning out relatively normal, despite my weirdness as a little girl, and definitely cool – after all, I am president of an unputdownable book club.
I joke, I joke. But seriously, the point of this blog post was this: I love Kit Pearson just as much as an adult as I did as a kid, and because of that, I think this Canadian author should be on every little girl’s bookshelf. The End.