On January 18, thirty students from Grades 6 through 8 gathered excitedly. They had one thing in common: they had all read the book I Have Lost My Way and couldn’t wait to meet the author at a Literary Lunch hosted by the Middle School English department and the Tate Library.
This was the 14th Literary Lunch we have hosted since beginning the program in 2013. Literary Lunches make it possible for students with a particular interest in reading and writing to hear firsthand from an author in a small setting. In this case, that author was Gayle Forman. Before writing I Have Lost My Way, Gayle wrote several other young adult books, including the number-one New York Times bestseller, If I Stay, which was made into a major motion picture.
I Have Lost My Way is a particularly interesting book in that it weaves together the stories and voices of three characters who have each “lost their way.” Freya, Harun, and Nathaniel are complete strangers, each with their own secrets and yearnings, and each dealing with loss. When their lives collide in Central Park, they become characters in each other’s stories, ultimately helping each other cope and grow.
Students at the lunch arrived with tons of questions for Gayle, about the book itself and about her writing process. Hannah M., an eighth grader who attended the lunch, wrote the following reflection on the event:
“Our most recent Literary Lunch with Gayle Forman provided new insights into the world of writing, including advice on how to read critically, how to get past the middle of a story, how to write effective characters, and more. Students asked genuine questions about things they experienced in their own writing. We were inspired by the literary giant standing before us.
“Even though this felt like it should’ve been a huge event, it felt very casual, less like a formal assembly or interview and more like a conversation. Having read the book beforehand caused a personal connection to the author. After all, what is a novel but an outpouring of the author’s mind and soul onto pages? Plus, learning the story behind, well, the story, gave the book a whole new meaning. Everything was cast in a new light.
“Everybody knows the value of good book, but that’s amplified by a factor of ten when the person who created the book is explaining how the plot and characters related to her and her journey while writing it. This Literary Lunch was truly an amazing event and I’m glad to have participated.”
Our next Literary Lunch is scheduled for April 12 and will feature Armando Lucas Correa, author of The German Girl and father of ECFS eighth grader, Emma C.