Sacramento Public Libraries' One Book Sacramento has chosen THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ZOE FLYNN as a companion read to Steve Lopez's book, THE SOLOIST.
This September I'll be flying to Sacramento CA for speaking engagements set up by One Book Sacramento. It's an honor to be a companion read to THE SOLOIST a second time. Earlier this year Philadelphia Public Libraries listed THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ZOE FLYNN as a teen companion read to THE SOLOIST for One Book Philadelphia.
THE SOLOIST is a deeply moving book. I read it before watching the movie (also a must see!) Steve Lopez describes Nathaniel Ayers' turbulent life on the street, his heroic struggle with fragile mental health, and his musical gifts with a rare and powerful honesty. I have my own first hand experience with the devastation of brain disorders, illnesses that we, as yet, barely understand. I recognized Steve Lopez's true portrayal of illness in the unflinchingly accurate dialogue and in the complex yet hopeful description of a rare friendship.
THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ZOE FLYNN shares the theme of homelessness. Not that of a single person as in THE SOLOIST, but of a young family secretly living in an old Chevy van struggling to find a home. Zoe Flynn is fiercely guarding her secret from everyone at school. No one is to know they are homeless, that they bathe at the community pool and hang around at the laundromat to stay warm (courtesy of the heat coming from the driers).
The new face of homelessness is not presented on the street, it is lost in the invisible world of children and families couch surfing, living in cars and vans, people who are "between" apartments or homes for weeks or months or years. The year THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ZOE FLYNN came out I presented at schools across the U.S. sharing the book and raising awareness about homelessness. Many schools got ready for my visit by collection scads of food for local food banks. One school delivered a truck load the day after my assembly! More poignant than that, I discovered most schools had at least one homeless student. (I was usually told this privately before or after the presentation.) Those children were honored that day as I spoke of Zoe's heroic adventures in THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ZOE FLYNN.
The book's longevity is a testament to heroic children everywhere who are searching for a home.
P.S. Friend and colleague, Holly Cupala just sent me this link to the NY Times Article: Surge In Homeless Pupils Strains Schools. Very timely. Thanks Holly!
Until next time,