I’m excited to report that an excerpt from The Lucky Ones has been published! Last month, the non-profit writing center 826 Seattle released its 2014 anthology, What to Read in the Rain, featuring works by “famous and not-yet-famous” adult and young writers. My submission, entitled No Looking Back (a chapter found midway through my manuscript), is set in 1942 in Nazi-occupied Poland; it describes my great-aunt Mila’s attempt to escape the ghetto with her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter in tow.
826 Seattle’s newly-released anthology, What to Read in the Rain, includes a chapter of The Lucky Ones. No Looking Back captures my great aunt Mila’s attempt to escape a ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland. 826 chose to use the piece as its closer.
826 Seattle (one of 826 National’s eight chapters) was launched by writer, publisher, and philanthropist Dave Eggers, who believes that strong writing skills translate to better chances of success in life. Great leaps in learning can happen, Eggers says, by pairing children and teens with adult mentors. 826 Seattle’s youth writing initiatives include publishing programs, field trips, school visits, and workshops designed to be as wacky and inspiring as they sound: The Mad Scientist, Sense-Sational Stories, Tabletop Moviemaking and, my favorite (the product of which you can read in the New York Times), Letters to Michelle Obama.
A big thanks to my good friend, writing partner, and programming coordinator for 826 Seattle, Alicia, who recommended that my work be included in this year’s edition of What to Read in the Rain. As I wasn’t able to make it to the launch (where contributors famous and not-yet-famous gathered to celebrate and sign the freshly-pressed anthology), Alicia kindly sent me a copy. The day it arrived I held it on my lap for a while before opening it, marveling at the weight of it, the realness of it. I traced my fingertips over the the velvet-soft cover, and read and re-read the sticker inscribed with the exhilarating words, “Take Me Home!” (Many visitors to the Emerald City will find a copy of the anthology beside their hotel beds; “Simply slip this book into your luggage,” the sticker says, “The cost will automatically be debited to your room.“)
When I finally flipped through the book to page 207 to find a photograph of my face smiling back at me and my words strewn across the page, I panicked. Here was my story, my ancestry, my years of work, stamped in ink, for the world to read…would anyone like it? Was the writing really any good? Would I find a typo? But after skimming a few paragraphs, I willed the demons of self-doubt to disappear and soon my panic melted into a fusion of joy, and pride.
So—if you’re holed up as I am, bracing for another few months of winter, you might consider adding What to Read in the Rain to your stockpile of rainy (and snowy) day reads. Whether diving into a poem by sixth-grader Morgan White, a graphic novella by Nikki McClure, or a short story by bestselling author Susan Orlean, I’ve found every submission to be equally intruiging, inspiring, and rewarding. Of course, the anthology also offers a sneak peak into The Lucky Ones—a taste of my writing and, I hope, a better understanding of what it meant to be a young Polish-Jewish mother doing everything in her power to survive the Holocaust.
Proceeds from What to Read in the Rain, should you decide order a copy, benefit 826 Seattle and the young writers who frequent the center. A worthy cause, indeed.