The Book That Changed My Life

Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry was honored as a 1983 National Book Award Finalist for Children's Books (Paperback) for Anastasia Again!.

Photo borrowed from Kay E. Vandergrift's page at (http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/special/kay/lowry.html).

My mother read The Yearling aloud to me when I was eight. I have always thought of that time - those nights when she read, seated in the hall outside the bedrooms, my sister listening from her room and me from mine - our rooms were dark, and the light was on Mother, and her voice was clear and expressive; she was a good reader - I have thought of that as a pivotal time in my literature life.

Reading for me, until then, had been The Bobbsey Twins, Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, and Nancy Drew: a combination of classics and schlock, and I loved it all. But it was separate from me. It was not real. They were stories, and they held my interest and made me laugh now and then - but they were never real.

But now - in the 1940's, with my own father far away on an island in the Pacific (the sme island, though we did not know it then, where the atomic bomb would soon be loaded onto a plane), my mother sat quietly in that hallway and read of the boy named Jody whose father, bitten by a rattlesnake, is struggling to live. "He pressed his face into hanging covers and cried bitterly," my mother read of Jody (and I, listening, pressed my own face into my pillow in anguish for Jody). "He was torn with hate for all death and pity for all aloneness," she read.

It was the book, The Yearling, and its effect on me, that directed my reading from then on. After I had met Jody Baxter, I didn't want to hang out with Nan and Bert Bobbsey ever again. I don't worry today about children addicted to Goosebumps. I was addicted to Bobbseys. But only until the right book - the book that felt real - came along.

You eat canned tuna fish and you absorb protein. Then, if you're lucky, someone give you Dover Sole and you experience nourishment. It's the same with books.

Lois Lowry