Excitement is bubbling for Julia Fine's debut novel, What Should Be Wild. Coming this May, this dark literary fantasy follows a young woman whose touch brings both life and death, and who must travel into the mysterious woods surrounding her family's estate in order to remove a curse that has plagued the women in her family for generations. We loved this beautiful and immersive novel so much, we chatted about it on Facebook Live. Watch the replay here.
With a debut so drenched in imagination and lyricism, surely libraries had some part to play, right? Well, today we are lucky enough to have Julia join us for a guest post, so let's find out!
A Bibliophile’s Coming of Age
Growing up, my family visited our public library weekly. We’d head to the children’s room, where I was allowed to disappear among the shelves as long as my mother could occasionally crane her neck to find me. While she chased my younger brothers, I’d squeeze into a corner with a real book: a middle grade novel I could speed-read to turn the precious five books I’d consume that week to six. I could not get enough of words and stories. They were my nourishment.
But by the time I was ten, the children’s area was too small. I was Eric Carle’s caterpillar—constantly hungry. Adult popular fiction was housed in a separate room from children’s, across the wide divide of the circulation desk and computers and recommended reading. Each time we entered the library I’d look toward that fiction room, only to be guided to our usual spot on the rainbow throw rug. This was the bibliophile’s equivalent of someday when you’re older, and I pined for those adult books in the same way other children pined for roller blades or Gameboys. I’d never break my mother’s trust and wander in; I was a rule follower—until one day, my appetite overcame me.
Insatiable, one day I crossed the threshold of the primary colors and hundred-plus-book series of the kids’ room. Every step was an adventure, a bildungsroman packed into one breathtaking minute—slipping past the teenager rolling her eyes, the librarian peering down her glasses, the old woman struggling with the newly digitized catalogue who winked at me, urging me on. And then the glorious mecca of the adult room: shelves that catapulted skyward, title after title of mysteries that could some day be mine.
I climbed up on a stepstool to grab my first adult title: The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman. I can still close my eyes and find myself diving into a lake in Vermont and a social commentary well beyond my comprehension. My mother found me reading, my back pressed against bookshelves. Luckily, she understood this rite of passage. She let me bring the book home, and then return to the adult fiction room. There, year after year, I grew inside its chrysalis until the day even it was not large enough, and I was ready to go out into the world on my own.
Thanks, Julia! What Should Be Wild will be hitting library shelves on May 8th, so head on over to Edelweiss to download the egalley and see what all the excitement is about! And be sure to cast your votes for LibraryReads by March 20th!