In Keija Parssinen's novel, The Unraveling of Mercy Louis, the eponymous character is a teenage basketball protege and overall exceptional athlete. So dig deep and employ all your athletic prowess to get a copy of this book as fast as possible because it.is.good! I read this over the holidays and was so taken by the characters.
Keija has popped into Library Love Fest to share with us her history with libraries - a unique take since she grew up in Saudi Arabia. Welcome, Keija!
In Saudi Arabia, where I grew up in the 1980s, we depended on libraries to keep us in books. It was hard to get certain titles past airport customs, where men would open up your suitcase and dispense with anything that looked suspicious—which most books written in English did. Getting anything through the mail took ages, and customs worked hard on that end, too; a friend told the story of how she once received a coffee table book on art that had all the naked women cut out of the paintings. So the oil company and school libraries were it for entertainment, and I’ve loved and relied on the blessed institutions ever since.
In my current hometown of Columbia, Missouri, the public library is so beautiful that I usually try to take out-of-town visitors there to marvel at its elegance. But the Columbia Public Library (part of the Daniel Boone Regional Library system) isn’t just pretty; it is also a cutting-edge model for how libraries can serve their communities, providing a spacious and whimsical indoor play space for children, daily baby and toddler music classes, thousands of books, CDs, and DVDs, free internet access, and adult education classes on everything from the job search to filing taxes. I rely on it as a workspace, as well as a place to take my son on long winter days, when cabin fever strikes hard.
When my first book, The Ruins of Us, was published in 2012, libraries took on a new role in my life. They became conduits through which I could connect with countless new readers. It was exciting to see my book on the shelf at the library and to know that people in my community were reading about the characters that had taken me years to create. In 2013, the library selected Ruins for its One Read program, one of the longest-running and most extensive community reading programs in the nation. Besides the obvious thrill that such an experience offers, I also befriended several of the librarians and learned quickly what a badass, smart, curious-minded group they are, always hungry for compelling new books, always thinking creatively about how to reach more readers of all ages. And so my early love affair with libraries has thus deepened into a long-term, committed relationship. I can’t wait to see my second novel, The Unraveling of Mercy Louis, covered in that crinkly protective sheath and sitting on the shelf at the library, awaiting the arrival of a new reader.
Thank you so much, Keija!
Make sure you snag a copy, lovely readers.