UP! – When A Book Moves You…

It’s been a long while since I’ve written a proper blog post, I know. And it’s not that I don’t have plenty of ideas for posts. I do — a couple of them actually valuable — but what can I say? Life “stuff” can do that. I’m also not a book reviewer, so let’s not confuse this post about a book with an actual review. This is different. This is more.

For a very long time my sleep — mostly the lack of — has been an issue, last night being no different. I didn’t fall asleep till after midnight, then woke up about 4 a.m. to a pillow that shunned me no matter how much I tried to re-bond with it. By 4:30 the sun and birds were starting their day so I thought it best to join them. Today was a week, to the day, since I began reading my library copy of Matylda, Bright & Tender, knowing it was a book I would own and have signed by its author, Holly M. McGhee, just two days later. With my treasured copy in hand, over last weekend I read midway through, then that incessant pest, Life Stuff, showed up again.

So here I was, the clock closing in on 5 a.m. and not feeling as groggy as I would expect, the unusually early morning became a gift. I only needed to decide what to unwrap first. Choosing took all of a few seconds. To go along with my steamy morning cup of “Newman’s Own” Organics Special Blend coffee, what better gift than a good book for breakfast? I thought I’d get in about 50 or so page “bites” and leave the rest for later, but the story was so scrumptious, gluttonous me kept gobbling. Many tears and several tissues later, having ingested every wordy crumb, I closed its cover, pushed my full belly from the table, my literary appetite more than satisfied.

I first became aware of Matylda, Bright & Tender through Kathy Temean’s blog. While reading the beautiful post written by Holly herself about the book’s “journey,” I cried and knew it would be a tear-jerking read — because a character dies. I knew I wanted to experience this book — really wanted to. And when I saw Holly, I told her (and author Beth Ferry) I love books that move me enough to cry. In fact, not since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and One for the Murphys have I been this emotional while reading. Why? Not just because of the quality of the writing, but because the writers made me care about the characters and their journeys. Because the main character, Sussy, and her story hit home.



At the age of sixteen I, too, suffered tragic loss, that of an ex-boyfriend. And similar to Holly, I felt partly responsible, though indirectly. For a time I played the “woulda coulda shoulda” game, saying “if only I hadn’t…” Ultimately I did realize it had nothing to do with me, but these things happen in life. This is reality. We live in a world rife with tragedy and death, whether by accident or intent. It’s a sorry reality in which children — and adults — need to face these things and learn how to cope. A book like this can be a key to open the often-closed door for discussion of this difficult topic, whether at home or school or — anywhere. And just because the book is written through a young girl’s eyes, the subject matter knows no age boundaries, whether you’ve experienced loss or not. Obviously, I’m not a child and this book now resides on my “books best loved” shelf.

Having had the good fortune to meet Holly through the NJSCBWI, and the pleasure and honor to consider her a friend, I can tell you there are many things to love and appreciate about Holly McGhee. As a person she is warm, genuine and delightful. As a literary agent, she helps bring to the world some of the best author and illustrator talent in children’s literature. And as an author she not only brings to us her talent, but her willingness to address the difficult subjects. She does the same in her upcoming picture book Come With Me, a book Mr. Colby Sharp “will be sharing with his students for the rest of his career,” set for release Sept. 5, 2017, written…


 “Because as small as it may seem,

your part matters to the world.”

—Holly M. McGhee


Holly, I am glad that writing Matylda, Bright & Tender was a cathartic endeavor for you 🙂 . Thank you for the inspiration. Thank you for the beauty of this book oxox

Have you read books that have deeply moved you? I’d love to hear what they are! And I’m sure Holly would enjoy any comments from you about her and her work 🙂

Where to find Holly:




Pippin Properties





18 thoughts on “UP! – When A Book Moves You…

    • Hey, Tina! So glad you took the time to comment 😀 My biggest problem is getting to bed early enough in order to HAVE early mornings. I never give up hope. It WILL happen! 😀 And I’ll tell you, I KNEW I was going to cry and still risked the puffy/droopy/wrinkly (at my age!) eyes that came from all the sobbing lol


    • Holly, it makes me VERY happy to know you appreciate and like this 🙂 You sensed the love in my words because it’s there. The book—and you—are amazing and beautiful. This book is something to be incredibly proud of and although I’m not an award/competition-type person, I hope this is in the running for some. Can’t imagine it won’t be! 😀 oxox


  1. That is both awesome and sad. It is odd when a book moves you – you wish you weren’t crying, but you don’t want it to stop either.
    As for your sleep troubles, getting up early is a great thing. Going to bed after 10:30 isn’t that good though. You can combat this by enforcing a “no screen, relax time” for 15-45 minutes before your wished bedtime. If you are extremely busy, perhaps going schedule-crazy might help a bit (give yourself [X] amount of time to do ______).
    I know it’s weird for a teen to be telling you this, and I’m sorry if it doesn’t help much. The above is information I picked up while reading books, articles, and talking with other people. I have also heard that if you want to stay up later (but I don’t think that’s the case) while remaining healthy, a siesta (short nap during the day) may help. But I don’t think that’s the problem.
    I hope you figure everything out – I know you can do it! Take Life by the ear and don’t let it tell you what can and cannot be done! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Erik, you are SUCH a sweetheart to take the time to note all this for me! 😀 oxox And, you know, the fact that you’re aware of all this as a teenager, if you actually develop these habits and heed the wisdom you’re gaining, you’ll have a healthier, more productive life. For me, the biggest problem is that there are too few hours in the day and I’m having SUCH a hard time changing a life time of being a night owl (among other things!). All you’re saying is good and I have to tell you, I LOVE that last line. One of the best I’ve heard!

      “Take Life by the ear and don’t let it tell you what can and cannot be done! 😀 ”

      Thank you, my young, wise friend 😀 oxox


  2. Insomnia is a terrible thing but if it gives you more time for reading then it is at least more bearable. As for books moving me, there have been a few that have made me rethink things but never to an emotional state of note. I will get in touch with my emotions one day though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ste J, hello, my friend! It’s been so long since I’ve been by, and you can tell by my sparseness in posting, that I’ve been busy (going to be a grandma and the baby shower is next week, plus conference attending and SO many other things!). I hope you’re well, and I’m amazed, with all the books you read, that you haven’t read one that’s moved you. I hope you come across one that does! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Congratulation on being a granny! Books move me but to excess of emotions, I think I am too analytical, working out why I feel like I do, dissecting my own feelings probably ruins it haha. I have been struggling to be around of late and have so much to catch up but trying to make up for it now at breakneck pace!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds like a very moving and powerful book. I will definitely check out Matylda, Bright & Tender. I am sorry for your loss. I admit I tend to be an emotional reader as it is, but there have definitely been books that have touched me deeper than others. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson comes to mind. Or The Hummingbird by Stephen P. Kiernan. Both of the books spoke to experiences/relationships in my own life.

    I hope you are able to get more sleep. I suffer from insomnia sometimes. I have such a hard time falling asleep and then if I wake up in the middle of the night, going back to sleep can be a problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, I’ve heard Speak mentioned SO often, I wonder if I’ll ever get to read it! Can’t remember if I heard of The Hummingbird, though it sounds familiar.

      And the “sleep” thing…well, for whatever reason, the past two days had a lot of it due to me jabbing my eye along with a bad food reaction so I’ve been unable to do much, but sleep wasn’t a problem! I just wish I felt rested 🙂


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