here, if you'd like to read that.)
I have been fortunate to receive a good deal of positive feedback since Finding Grace was published in 2012--people have in general been very kind. But some of the comments from this satisfied reader touched me more than any I'd heard before; her insights were so sharp and so well expressed, especially coming from such a young person. (Reading through her email just made me more convinced than ever that Catholic schools are doing an amazing job and are worth every penny that parents sacrifice to spend on them!)
My young pen pal aspires to be a writer herself, so I was especially thrilled to be able to correspond personally with her, and to share a bit of information about how the story and characters for this novel came about and then evolved over the years that I worked on the book
[Before I proceed any further, I should warn you that there are some spoilers for my novel Finding Grace coming up. So if you plan to read it and don't want any hints about how it ends, you should probably stop here.]
I loved her comments on the various characters, who had become dear friends to me during the writing process. It pleased me enormously that she not only liked Grace, Tom, and Jimmy, who aren't perfect, but are basically very good and relatively uncomplicated teens who never go too far astray; but she also identified with/had empathy for Irene and Kate, two sisters with very human flaws who commit the same grave sin, but then make different decisions afterward--with life-altering consequences. Although I loved Grace, with her shyness, lack of confidence, and desire to mimic the saints, I loved the misguided Pomeroy sisters, too. Kate changes so much in the course of the book that in the end, it appears she has won the heart of one of Grace's brothers. (And I couldn't love those Kelly boys more, as they were definitely inspired by my own five sons!) Of Kate, my young reader had this to say: "As she matured into a responsible adult, I felt pride, because she became selfless and accountable for her actions." Yes! That is exactly how I felt about Kate, and the way the book ended for her was almost as important to me as the way it ended for Grace.
One of my favorite comments in this young reader's email was, "Don't get me started on Tom and Sully!" She said that they were the type of friends she hoped to make in high school next year, because "They were able to have fun, but follow God's teachings at the same time, a true talent!" She loved those "two trouble makers," and I did, too. I always knew which one Grace would end up with (that much, at least, never changed, even though the plot ended up going in different directions than I'd thought it would at the outset); but it was funny to me how many readers early on (including my publisher!) said they secretly hoped she was going to end up with the other guy.
My husband and I have always been strongly Team Tom. If you've read the book, do tell: which team are you on? Team Tom, or Team Sully?
In closing, this thoughtful 8th-grader told me that Finding Grace is "a model for what I want my novels to do: impact young readers and bring them closer to our Father." The idea that someday, this budding future author will write novels with that purpose in mind, and that she will do so in part because she was inspired by Finding Grace...well, dear readers, my heart is so full thinking about this. I feel that any purpose for my own books has already been fulfilled--and then some.
I thoroughly enjoyed corresponding with this reader, and I would love to answer any questions you have for me as well. Just look for the "EMAIL ME" button on the side bar, and send me a message. I promise I'll get back to you!