Did you shield your child on that fateful day in September?

This past week, a school in Tennessee removed the graphic novel MAUS from its library due to inappropriate curse words and a depiction of a naked character. Keep in mind that this book uses illustrated mice and cats to tell the story of THE HOLOCAUST. That’s right, the parents in this school district are less concerned about the murder of 6 million Jewish people than the possibility that little Timmy might learn a new swear word that I’m sure he’s never heard before in the car.

Whether it’s MAUS or TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, another book that has seen its share of censorship, it’s nothing new that parents are so afraid that their children might feel some discomfort while learning about a world beyond their gaggle of friends on social media.    

Reading can and should challenge us. It’s OK to occasionally feel uncomfortable with a story that stretches our belief or an opinion we don’t share or understand. It’s called LEARNING. Fortunately, because of the news coverage on the book banning, MAUS is now reaching more readers than the author ever dreamed of.

MAUS reminds us that we can’t forget to teach our children of the horrific ramifications of racism and hate. On September 11, 2001, my children witnessed on news reports what I told them would be a defining moment in their lives. That evening, as a family, we watched the tragedy unfold in real-time on TV. While some parents shielded their young children from the horrors of that day, I believe my boys needed to see what humans are capable of doing to one another.

A documentary aired soon after on CBS, produced by filmmakers who just happened to be following firefighters on that fateful day. CBS made the right decision to air the special without editing out the gruesome scenes and the natural cursing by the firefighters. My husband and I could have decided that this special was too violent for young children and would make our kids uncomfortable. But isn’t that the point?    

Thank you, Tennessee parent, for opening our eyes to the importance of MAUS and all those other books that make our children think.

Heidi McCrary is a writer and Author. Her novel, CHASING NORTH STAR is available at Kazoo Books, This is a Bookstore, and online wherever books are sold. Follow Heidi at heidimccrary.net and facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor

WHEN THE STARS GO DARK –When Nonfiction takes a creative turn

Some of the best stories are found within the pages of real-life events. Categorized as Historical Fiction, many authors have found a fascinating niche of delving into true stories from the perspective of a secondary character or using a true story to inspire a fictional tale. It’s an intriguing twist and makes for an exceptional story. One example of Historical Fiction is AMERICAN WIFE, a novel by Curtis Sittenfeld, and loosely based on the life of Laura Bush. Packed with intrigue and familiar characters, AMERICAN WIFE reveals the fascinating backstory on our former first lady’s life, and well worth the read  

Another novel that borrowed from a real-life event and news headlines, is WHEN THE STARS GO DARK, From Paula McLain, the author of THE PARIS WIFE (Yet another intriguing historical fiction novel, based on the first wife of Ernest Hemmingway). WHEN THE STARS GO DARK focuses on Anna, a homicide detective working on several cases involving missing girls. While this literary thriller is fiction, it includes a side-story borrowed from a real-life tragic event, in the kidnapping of Polly Klaas, a girl held at knifepoint and kidnapped in 1993.

WHEN THE STARS GO DARK is a true page-turner and a thought-provoking who-done-it that fires on all cylinders.

Heidi McCrary is a writer and author of Chasing North Star. Keep up with her at https://heidimccrary.net/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor

60 Second Book Review – ME BEFORE YOU

Published in 2012, I finally got around to reading the romance novel, ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes. It’s a good thing my friend placed the book directly in my hands, because the genre, Romance Novel doesn’t set off any MUST READ flags for me.

The premise isn’t complicated – and is a straightforward “Girl meets boy in wheelchair” story. While the road, ME BEFORE YOU travels down doesn’t contain many twists and turns, it does provide an ending that avoids clichés and an eye-rolling happily ever after. Instead, it lays bare what is most important for human kindness, and the difficult task of being selfless.

ME BEFORE YOU – An entertaining and thought-provoking read. Oh…and a romance.

Heidi McCrary is a writer and a regular contributor to Women’s LifeStyle. Look for her debut novel, Chasing North Star in September 2020. Follow Heidi at https://www.facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor

Little Movies Everywhere

As our New Normal continues, I sat down to watch a miniseries recently added to the online streaming service, Hulu, starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon. Having read the best-selling novel two years ago, I was looking forward to seeing this film adaptation featuring an affluent dysfunctional family. After all, nothing is more entertaining than reading about a rich family falling down a dark rabbit hole.   

The story opens with the torching of the Richardson’s home. (No spoiler alert here, this major event literally happens on the first page of the novel.) Refreshingly, with five of eight episodes now online, the miniseries remains loyal to the novel’s storyline and subplots.

I  have a rule when it comes to watching film adaptations. If I have any plans of reading the novel, it must be done prior to seeing the movie. There are two reasons why the order of this is important…

  • Movies are based on books, not the other way around – I’m sure there has been a successful novel based on a movie, but I can’t think of one. There’s a reason why the book comes first, and I’m not going to mess with the natural order of storytelling.  
  • When reading a book, it is important to draw my own visuals based on the author’s narrative – I don’t want to picture Reese Witherspoon as I sit alongside the main character while she watches her daughter walk into the school, wondering why her daughter isn’t following the metaphorical map she so carefully laid out for her. As I get lost within the pages of a novel, I am able to “see” the mother as she sits in her car, in full makeup even though it’s 6:30 in the morning. I am able to visualize this because of the author’s rich narrative, not because I’m envisioning Witherspoon’s interpretation.

While many movies fail to rekindle the fire of the novels they’re based on (I’m talking to you, “The Glass Castle.”), there is the occasional surprise film that eclipses the written word. “The Bridges of Madison County” film adaptation brought a simple story to life with strong performances by Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood, while being directed by Eastwood. But this is an exception to the rule.

And rules are made to be broken. Many years ago, after being captivated by the raw performances by Barbra Streisand and Nick Nolte in a 1991 drama based on a best-selling novel, I sat down with the book, “The Prince of Tides,” and fell in love with the Pat Conroy story for a second time.

So, how do I feel about the “Little Fires Everywhere” miniseries after five episodes? I am hooked on following the sad lives of those two families from Shaker Heights, Ohio all over again.