When Other Writers Crossed the Line (Holly Schindler)

When I was a young reader, I was always glad—relieved, comforted—when a writer had the guts to cross the line.

It wouldn’t have to be some sort of taboo line. It wouldn’t have to involve sex or drugs. The writer didn’t have to be pushing some boundary of decency.

Instead, when I was a young reader, the times I felt as though a writer was being really daring was when they were being unrelentingly, unabashedly honest. When they let characters say (or think) the kinds of things you would never dare admit to out loud.

The very first book I ever personally connected to was THE PAIN AND THE GREAT ONE by Blume. The book’s about a couple of siblings, and the refrain of the book (repeated by each of them) is “I think they love him [or her] more than me.” (The “they” is, of course, their parents.) 

It seems a tiny thing now, that line from a picture book. When you’re little, that statement’s raw and it’s uncensored. It’s true. And the fear that your parents love your sibling more is something you’d never have the guts to admit out loud.

Seeing those words in print—words you’d never dare say out loud—very much feels like that writer has crossed the line. Dared to say something that previously seemed unsayable.

And it’s a powerful thing, knowing someone else has had those thoughts. Knowing you’re not alone in thinking them. It makes you feel connected. Less alone. 

As the years have passed, those are the lines I’ve always paid attention to. No matter what my age. No matter what genre I’m reading. I’m always impressed by authors who have the guts to write those unvarnished truths. No matter how small those truths may seem. I’m impressed by authors who dare to say what previously seemed unsayable. 


  1. I bet most of us can remember books like that and even pick out a line that changed us. If you're lucky and continue to read and love doing so, that 'line hit' stays with you.


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