Erin E. Moulton joined me for Middle Grade March and one of the things that I didn’t ask her was what did she hope those reading CHASING THE MILKY WAY would take away from it. She is here today to answer that very question. First, a little bit about the book from Goodreads:
In a book that pairs science with mental illness, and heart with adventure, Erin E. Moulton delivers a moving story about family, friendship and the lengths we go for the people we love.
Lucy Peevy has a dream–to get out of the trailer park she lives in and become a famous scientist. And she’s already figured out how to do that: Build a robot that will win a cash prize at the BotBlock competition and save it for college. But when you’ve got a mama who doesn’t always take her meds, it’s not easy to achieve those goals. Especially when Lucy’s mama takes her, her baby sister Izzy, and their neighbor Cam away in her convertible, bound for parts unknown. But Lucy, Izzy and Cam are good at sticking together, and even better at solving problems. But not all problems have the best solutions, and Lucy and Izzy must face the one thing they’re scared of even more than Mama’s moods: living without her at all.
And now…take it away Erin!
What I Hope Readers Can Learn From CHASING THE MILKY WAY
A lot goes on in CHASING THE MILKY WAY. One element of the book centers around Lucy and Mama’s relationship as Mama struggles with a mixed diagnosis of Bipolar/Schizo-Affective disorder. I am not sure I can accomplish what I set out to accomplish, but at least in a small way, I would love if my book was used as a jumping off point to discuss mental illness, how it is depicted in our stories and our media, and what it means in reality. One of the things I ruminate on is perception vs. reality. And in the case of mental illness there seems to be a large divide. Mental Illness is an extremely broad term and it is used thus in our media and stories regularly in conjunction with violence. Alternatively, we rarely give room in our our media and other outlets for non-vioent mental illness stories. When this happens, it creates a stigma. Stigma means a stain or discredit of a group of people. When people are stigmatized they are marginalized, ostracized. They have a smaller if nonexistant voice in our cultural stories. I find this to be a major problem when, in fact, 1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime. If you were afflicted by a mental illness such as depression, bipolar, schizophrenia etc, would you want to talk about it given its regular connection to violence? We all experience symptoms of mental illness, and yet we shy away from speaking of it. I hope that if we make more stories surrounding mental illness, perhaps people will share their own stories more confidently. Perhaps we can peel away Perception and come face to face with People. Perhaps we can see others, not as labels, but as individuals. Perhaps narrative can help build accurate perceptions (reading and writing are empathetic endeavors, afterall), and if perceptions change, more people will discuss, less people will be stigmatized, more people might seek treatment and have the chance to reclaim their lives.
Like I said. It’s just a small story, but maybe it is a starting point for discussion. I also hope that the resources in the back of the book are useful(they are not in the ARC, but will be in the hardcover). And once the book is out we will have a teacher’s guide to help classroom discussions of the novel.
Not just a small story, Erin. An important one and I have met and have worked with many a child who has a parent who suffers from mental illness. I’ve also experience what it is like to be booktalking a book on a serious issue and have a child come up who really wants it because they have been through what the MC has been through, or has a friend who has. Those are darn powerful moments.
Erin E. Moulton graduated with an MFA in Writing for Children from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of Flutter: The Story of Four Sisters and One Incredible Journey(Philomel/Penguin 2011), and Tracing Stars(Philomel/Penguin 2012). Erin is co-founder of the Kinship Writers Association. She lives in Southern New Hampshire with her husband and puppies where she writes, reads, drinks tea and dreams. You can visit her online at www.erinemoulton.com or on Facebook as Erin E. Moulton (Author), or connect on twitter @erinemoulton (from Goodreads)
I still have giveaway fever from Middle Grade March. I love, love being able to share the books I have read and loved and consider myself blessed to be able to do giveaways. SO–leave a comment and next Monday I will do a draw for a pre-order of CHASING THE MILKY WAY (tbr this June). (BTW–draw will be done in B.C. where I will soon be holding my new grandson!!!) Enjoy the week all and do head back to Shannon Messenger’s for more MMGM love!