2 replies 

Mary Cronk Farrell

Location: WA, US

Positions: Parent Author

You know the boy in the back row of the classroom with straggly hair in his eyes and a blank look on his face? When you can see his face, that is, because mostly he has his head down on his arms. He’s probably not sleeping, but you know there is nothing you are going to say that will pop that head up and brighten those eyes. I’ll never forget the day that boy picked up his head and raised his hand. The class had read my book as part of their history curriculum and I had come to visit and answer questions. Being this was seventh grade, the students weren’t asking any questions, so I was stuck drumming up my own.

My book is historical fiction, about a boy in a western mining town during a labor uprising. I asked the students…even though the story happened more than 100-years ago…is there anything you can relate to your life today? The girls in the front row came up with a couple ideas, most having to do with how their parents try to run their life just like the boy’s father does in the book. “Anything else?” I looked at the clock and wondered how long I could tap dance in front of a class of junior high kids on a hot summer afternoon. How do they manage to make me feel so inadequate?

Then it happened.

If we had been in a movie, the music would have crescendod and the camera would have zoomed in on the boy in the back row because he had lifted his head, shaking it a bit to get the hair out of his face. Slowly, his elbow propped on his desk, he had raised his arm. “Yes?” “Some kids, you know…they have to…you know…take care of their younger siblings. Like, feed them and stuff. Like how Mick did in the story.” I nodded at this boy, his dark eyes meeting mine, and wished a nod could be worth a thousand words. Better yet, a thousand hugs. I’ll never forget that boy in the back row. It’s moments like that–boys like that–I remember on those days when I wonder if sitting everyday at the keyboard writing is worthwhile, if it matters at all. I remember, and I know my writing is worthwhile because of that one boy who said, “I liked that book.” Before he put his head back down on his arms and tried to become invisible in the back row. Sincerely, Mary Author of “Fire in the Hole!”



Location: Rhode Island, USA

Position: Parent

Wow! Mary, that was so inspiring. I just sat here rereading trying to think of what to type because my heart jumped. Just knowing you are helping boys (our future men) become readers is so worth it!

Thanks so much!


Thanks, Debby


Mary Cronk Farrell

Location: WA, US

Positions: Parent Author

Hi Debby,

Thank you. I am so happy I was invited to join this site. Great articles from thoughtful, engaged people. By the way, I just visited Rhode Island for the first time. It was my first trip to New England. We took our kids for spring break. We had been saving up for the trip for five or six years. We had a great time.

Nice to meet you!


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