Jenny Meyerhoff (photographed at left by Mindy Garfinkle) is the author of THIRD GRADE BABY who is now making her YA debut with QUEEN OF SECRETS, a contemporary novel based on the Book of Esther. She's good at finding lost objects and used to teach kindergarten. She read Lois Duncan and Jane Austen as a teen, so clearly she's pretty cool.
My review of QUEEN OF SECRETS will be posted this afternoon. You can find Jenny tomorrow at Reading Rocks.
I’ve always been secretly fascinated by family estrangements. I think that’s because we had a couple of them in my family growing up. Some were the angry, on-purpose kind and some were the has-it-really-been-ten-years kind, but either way, it’s always gotten me thinking about the nature of family connections. You know, blood is thicker than water or an ounce of blood is worth more than a pound of friendship. If that is really true, how do these estrangements happen?
In my book QUEEN OF SECRETS, Essie Green’s aunt, uncle and cousin Micah have recently moved back to town after a ten year estrangement. In actuality, the rift was between her aunt and uncle and her grandparents (who raised her,) but in practice, Essie was also separated from her relatives, and, she feels abandoned by them. Why should she take the trouble to get to know them now, when they didn’t take the trouble during all those years of separation?
Then the situation gets more complicated. Essie has to choose sides in a conflict between her cousin (who she barely knows) and her new boyfriend (with whom she’s falling in love.) Is it as simple as putting those two loyalties on a scale and seeing which side is heavier? Essie is completely torn.
In my adult life, I’m lucky to be surrounded by family that I feel fiercely connected to, but I have friends that I feel the same way about. And family doesn’t only come about through genetics: adoption, marriage and simple shared experience can bond people the same way. In the end, I’m not sure that there is a clear cut answer to the question of where the stronger bonds lie or why they can sometimes get broken. I can tell you that Essie did make a choice, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what it was.