Mrs. Larkin is my mother-in-law.

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.


  1. What a great experience! To hear the kids were so involved.


  2. Since I became aware there is a “Ms.” option I’ve insisted on being Ms. Howling Hill. I didn’t want to be Miss and I didn’t want to be Mrs. I wanted to be Ms. because of the anonymity of it and because it made my feminist heart skip a beat.

    But this year I’ve asked the babies to call me Mrs. Hill. It’s weird even to me and even weirder to those who know me. But Hill is my last name and not Wolf’s so when I’m called Mrs. Hill it reminds me of my grandmother, my only living grandparent.

    I’m not going to have kids so I’ll never be a grandmother. While skipping out on the whole mother thing is fine with me I do have sadness about missing out on grandmotherhood. My grandmothers both mean the world to me so there’s a part of me that wants to be Nana to someone. But it’s hard to be a grandmother if you’re not a mother. Mrs. Hill is as close as I can get.

  3. Aww, yay! Respectful 8th graders are a very powerful thing. It sounds like you had fun and I am super impressed that there are quizzes being taken about your story.

  4. I can’t wrap my head around being called Miss, Ms. or Mrs. I’m just “Noelle.” Now I want to write a story to see what the test would look like!

  5. M- Thanks!

    HH – If I could skip right to grandmother, I would do it in a heartbeat!

    NPW – They were super respectful. I remember feeling a little more on the too cool for school side of things at that age.

    N – That should be some kind of blog challenge.

  6. That’s just awesome.

    Good for those kids and good for you!

  7. Oh, I’m so glad that it turned out well. Congratulations!

    I’ve still got the link to Bathtub Mary and I’m waiting for a good cozy day to curl up with it. Can’t wait!

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