In Havre de Grace, Maryland, I am sitting on my bed in a room of white French Provincial furniture. The windows are close to the ceiling line, so I can’t see out. Doesn’t matter, as my attention is on the assignment of the night: to read the next chapter in my book. From first grade to third, my progress reports all ring with one negative theme—my reading skills suck.
In third grade, my teacher informs my parents I will never go to college if I don’t improve in reading, so as a concerned parent my mother spends evenings reading with me. The sacrifice is no television except for Friday and Saturday nights. Reading feels like punishment, but in reality my teachers have done me a huge favor. By age nine I become a voracious reader, no longer interested in TV if I can get my hands on a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys book. I vow to write a novel—one day.
Next week: “Trinidad, West Indies : 1961-1965.”