Friday, January 9, 2015

The Amazingness of Being Five and Fifty-Seven

Yesterday was my eldest nephew Huey's fifth birthday. Birthdays are a very big deal when you haven't had many of them. "I'm FIVE," he said to me. "I can run faster now."

"Of course you can," I said. "Five-year-olds run much faster than four-year-olds."

Yesterday was also the book birthday of my new novel, The War That Saved My Life. Book birthdays, also known as publication dates, are really only a big deal on a large scale if you're J.K. Rowling and the book in question is the last Harry Potter novel. Otherwise, the only people who care that it's your book birthday are: 1) you; 2) your publisher; 3) your family, because you tell them they have to.

I always walk around feeling special on my book birthday. Yesterday was my sixteenth, so you'd think I'd get used to it, but I don't. I feel a certain glow. I probably can run faster. But nothing changes in my everyday life. I don't suddenly have more money--the first opportunity for royalties for this one would be in October, and that's unlikely. I'm not more famous. I'm not thinner or smarter or more industrious. When my brother, Huey's dad, asked me how I was enjoying my special day I had to admit that I was headachy and itchy from my allergy shot, had gotten into my pajamas early, lost a game of cards to my son, and heated up leftovers for dinner. It wasn't glamorous.


Because you never know what could happen. Certainly I didn't expect what happened, not in a million thousand years. I put down the book I was reading and checked Facebook, as I usually do before going to bed, and there was a post from an elementary school teacher friend of mine, congratulating me on having a book included in Time Magazine's list of the Top 100 YA Books Ever.

Let that sink in. Top 100 YA Books EVER.  You know, Harry Potter, Charlotte's Web, The Hunger Games. Oh, and For Freedom, by, um, me.

As soon as I read the Facebook post, my husband, son, and I all got online and started to search to see if it was true. We found the list, but had to page through the results, one at a time. And there were ads! My son got there first. "Number 57!" he said.

It was true. Right after The Hunger Games. For Freedom, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.

It was such a bucket of awesome sauce it felt crazy. My mother called up this morning giggling, asking if she could have my autograph. My husband's first words to me were, "Fifty-seven." My son said, "It's not even your best book."

I've said before that the only tattoo I think is cool is my friend Karen's Olympic rings, placed somewhere discreet. If I were badass enough to make an Olympic team (or, like Karen, five of them) I might also get that tattoo. But now I'm thinking, hmm, 57...somewhere discreet, of course.

And I'm pretty sure I do run faster.