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May 10, 2015

Susan Mallery: A Mother’s Enduring Gift

Posted by emily

New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery’s THE GIRLS OF MISCHIEF BAY is the first novel of a brand new series, about three women at different stages in life, who come together to provide solace and support through shared laughter and tears, proving that when all else fails, you always have your friends. It’s safe to say that Susan’s books have moved millions of readers, and in our final Mother's Day Blog, she graciously gives credit to her mother --- for teaching her how to love books through and through, and to appreciate the lessons that can be learned from each and every story.

The greatest, most enduring gift my mother gave to me was a love of reading. She told me that she read to me even before I was old enough to understand words. She held me as a baby and snuggled against her chest, while she read aloud in the singsongy cadence that mothers use. I learned to associate books with comfort, so that when I was older, books became a panacea.

After a few years, she graduated to reading chapter books to me. Oh, the thrill and the anguish of reaching the end of a chapter and having to wait to see what happened! I would lie in bed, my mind spinning with possibilities as I succumbed reluctantly to sleep.

When I was five or six, she was reading BLACK BEAUTY to me, and she had to stop to fix dinner. I was no good at delayed gratification (I'm still not), so while she was in the kitchen, I finished the book. She didn't believe me. I was too young to read. When I told her the end of the story, it was one of the proudest moments of her life. But she was also annoyed that I had finished without her, and that I had spoiled the ending. She was into the story, too --- grown-ups liked to read!

In my family, books were highly valued. Saturday visits to the library were the highlight of my week, and very few restrictions were put on the types of books I was allowed to check out. When I got in trouble, my parents knew that sending me to my room, filled with books, would not be a punishment. Instead, they'd banish me to the bathroom, so I learned to hide books under the sink and behind the toilet, and I'd curl up in the tub with a towel as my pillow.

I'm sure my mom had no idea that I'd become a writer, that the lessons she taught me would lead me to the most fulfilling career I can imagine. All she knew was that books make life richer. They entertain and illuminate. Seeing the world through characters' eyes teaches empathy, a trait that changes the way we interact with people, which in turn changes the way they react to us. Through books, we can live every facet of the human experience. Reading is transformative, and the transformation continues with every new story.

Thank you, Mom.