Growing up in eastern North Carolina, there were lots of times when it seemed like I wasn’t enough of one thing or another. My dad was from New York and my mother was from Chile, so I definitely wasn’t “southern” enough. With my olive skin, I wasn’t “white” enough—kids at school were always asking me “What ARE you?” And though my mother often spoke to me in Spanish, I always answered her in English so I wasn’t Latina enough, either. As the final straw, I had three older sisters who did everything before me, so it felt like I was never old enough, too. They even called me “The Baby” for years. Hang on—am I wearing footie pajamas and a *bib* in that picture? Hmm. Well, okay. I guess that was justified.
Anyway, one thing I did enough of was read! I definitely related to characters who felt unjustly treated because they were young or small. I loved books like Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series, and authors like E. L. Konigsburg and Noel Streatfeild. They seemed to really understand those in-between years of 10-12, when you’re young enough to be underestimated, but old enough to want to show the world what you can do. Those kids who quietly yearned for some power and respect? They were my people.
I feel very lucky to have grown up in a house with lots of books and an older sister who would happily read to me, plus do all the funny voices! When I was three and we both had chicken pox, she taught me to read, myself, with this book.
I still remember that Mary and Bill had a dog named “Red.” Run, Red, run. See Red run, said the book. Their dog was the most interesting thing about them, to be honest.
When I wasn’t busy reading, I loved roller skating. I also collected things like stamps, ran around pretending to be Princess Leia from “Star Wars,” and dreamed about playing Annie on Broadway.