On Friday, I went to a junior high school about an hour south of here to discuss Bathtub Mary with a group of 8th graders who’d spent the week studying it in class. It was amazing. It’s wonderful to have friends and family say they like your story, but it’s another thing to have 43 8th graders show up for an optional meeting after school in the library on a beautiful, sunny Friday to ask questions about it. This, I believe, is probably more of a testament to their amazing teacher than it is to my writing, but it still felt like the highest compliment I’ve ever received.
These kids were so enthusiastic about their questions. They wanted to know so much more about the characters. What was Margie’s mom’s name? How did Blake meet Bart? How did Blake get AIDS? Who was the vandal? Did Margie’s mom know she kept the Mary in the weeds? What happens to Margie next? Was any of the story about me or people I know?
By the time I was halfway through answering one question, a hand would pop up with another one. 8th grade was the year I started to lose all enthusiasm for school, so I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around theirs. They were fantastic, thoughtful, intelligent kids, and it was an honor to spend an hour talking with them.
It was completely bizarre to see a xeroxed test with questions about my story and my name right up at the top. It was also completely bizarre to have all these kids calling me Mrs. Larkin, because even though I’m headed toward the 5 year mark on my marriage, I am just Allie to everyone I know. But it was completely amazing to be even a small part of their learning process.