The Best Worst Thing
"Front door locked, kitchen door locked. Kitchen window closed,
basement door closed, living room windows closed, sliding glass door
locked. Nobody behind the bathroom door, nobody hiding behind the
shower curtain, bathroom window closed. Nobody behind our bedroom
door. Nobody in the closet. Nobody under our bunks or under Tana's
bed. Bedroom window closed.
Please don't let the murderer kill us, please don't let the
murderer kill us. Please let middle school get better, please let
middle school get better."
Maggie, protagonist of Kathleen Lane's The Best Worst Thing, has
a big problem with anxiety. The first sentence of her narrative is:
"It's the night we're going to be murdered so we're sleeping on the
living room floor." The we in question is her whole family--mom, dad,
three daughters. The murderer is the man who shot a cashier at the
Mini Mart--a cashier who had spoken to the girls just hours earlier.
The murderer is at large. Maggie is sure it's only a matter of time
before he comes after them.
Maggie is just starting middle school. They have break instead
of recess. The girls walk around instead of playing. Her best
friend, Kelsey, is gravitating to the popolar but not all that nice
crowd. A classmate/neighbor who has allegedly already shot a deer is
rumored to be getting a gun in a couple of weeks for his twelth
And there are the adorable rabbits doomed to be butchered and
eaten if Maggie can't find a way to set them free.
Fortunately all may not be lost and help can come from the most
unlikely of places. Kids and adults, particularly those of us with
anxieties of our own, will find Maggie to be a spunky heroine, well
worth rooting for.
On a personal note, the mythical character Smokey the Bear gave me
anxious evenings when I was growing up. I took his "Only YOU can
prevent forest fires" a little too much to heart. I remember some
nights lying awake planning how, should the house catch on fire, I was
to rescue my sleeping parents and sister and all the animals, exotic
and otherwise, with whom we shared our home.
These days, because I am so robustly happy and confident in
their presence, my chums would never guess I have anxieties. What are
these days? I worry about money. I worry about maybe never getting
into grad school. I worry equally about getting a job and not getting
a job in that terrifying place known as the real world. The worries
are like cockroaches. They only come out scurrying out when I am
apart from the light of my froends' presences.
A great big shout out goes out to the family members and friends,
human and feline, who help me cope with and conquer them.
Sent from my iPod