Writing is an act of courage. Take Ellen Levine’s forthcoming book, In Trouble, a book she wrote after an editor told her about a podcast about girls going away to have babies at a time when abortions were illegal. The editor thought that subject might be a good one for Ellen, and Ellen thought so, too.
In Trouble is set in the same time period as Catch a Tiger by the Toe, another brave Levine book in which Jamie, the protagonist, must lie or risk her father’s arrest for political beliefs during the McCarthy era. In Ellen’s new book Jamie must deal with a pregnancy resulting from rape, and while the book concerns choices it’s also about Jamie’s father’s release from prison and the power of love among family.
Folks at the Hamline MFA residency in January of 2009 who heard Ellen read from In Trouble might remember the intense and attentive silence in which we listened to her words. At the time Ellen said that we might be the only ones to ever hear the book, since the editor who told her about the podcast was no longer working as an editor and many other editors had turned down the manuscript, one even saying she couldn’t touch a book with abortion in it, no matter what the story was.
Editors as well as writers sometimes must act courageously. Andrew Karr of Carolrhoda Books is publishing In Trouble, which is scheduled to come out this September. In Trouble is a brave and wonderful book from a brave and wonderful author whose books are always about things that matter.
Full disclosure: I am proud to be a friend of Ellen’s, and I admire immensely her courage in her writing and in her life.