I just returned from two weeks at Holden Village, a community dedicated to faith, justice, hilarity, and simple living located in a remote mountain valley in the North Cascades. The painful encounter I recount in the first pages of Stepmother happened there, and so did the moments of reconciliation I describe in chapter nine.
While at Holden, I did a short reading from the book at the weekly Open Mic. Over the next couple of days, several villagers sought me out for conversation. A woman in love with a man with children wasn’t sure if she could deal with the complexity of stepmothering; should she continue this relationship? A man wept when he told me about his daughter’s initial rejection of her stepmother, his new wife–and his hope that a better relationship is now emerging. One friend borrowed the book and read it the next day. Her own experience had been quite different from mine because her stepchildren were adults when she first met them, but reading about my experience and learning from my research helped her to reflect much more deeply on this still puzzling part of her life, she said, and she was grateful.
I was grateful, too, to have these opportunities for conversation about a vocation I’ve pondered for most of my life, and about a book in which I’ve probed both my own experience and the social, cultural, and spiritual frameworks that surround it.
As I launch this website, I’m hoping for more conversations like these. Right now I’m thinking mostly about this new book, but I’m also glad to engage with readers on other topics, like the ones that show up in the BOOKS section of this site. And, as always, I hope that these and all the books you read will stir conversation, even if I never know.