**SPOILER ALERT **
For example, we both know individuals who committed suicide; we know people who died of cancer at way-too-young ages; we know women who have been raped; we know a friend whose nieces died of heat-exhaustion when those little girls climbed into the trunk of the family's car; we met a woman in our neighborhood who backed over her two-year-old son; and so it goes.
We are all affected indirectly when tragedy strikes - even when we read about it in the newspaper or see the story on television. If it happens in our family, neighborhood, city, or state, it usually touches us in some way. Even so, we hang around the periphery, safe from the really deep hurt. Until we pick up a book like Ann Dee's.
Oh my, the peek into the pain suffered by this fictional family was emotionally draining. I was so grateful that it was a short book. But I loved Mazzy and her karate chops and her obsession with breasts - her own developing ones and the developed chests of others; her relationship with the boy next door, and her love for her mother. Ann Dee does a marvelous job of developing this 12-year-old heroine!
I once heard Ann Dee tell a group of teens that reading House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros inspired her writing. Until then, she thought she had to fill up all the white space, but seeing and feeling Sandra's style, she decided she could write a book. And so she took a summer to do just that. This is What I Did was the result. Isn't that amazing?
I'm amazed by her determination, her persistence, and her talent!