Her Story: Ladies In Literature 2019 with Joy McCullough

Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a special, month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader in which we celebrate the literary female role models whose stories have inspired and empowered us since time immemorial. From Harriet M. Welsch to Anne Shirley, Becky Bloomwood to Hermione Granger, Her Story: Ladies In Literature is a series created for women, by women as twenty authors answer the question: “Who’s your heroine?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!


About Joy McCullough

Joy McCullough’s debut young adult novel, Blood Water Paint, earned honors such as the National Book Award longlist, finalist for the ALA Morris Award, a Publishers Weekly Flying Start and four starred reviews. Her debut middle grade novel, A Field Guide To Getting Lost, is forthcoming in 2020.

She writes books and plays from her home in the Seattle area, where she lives with her husband and two children. She studied theater at Northwestern University, fell in love with her husband atop a Guatemalan volcano, and now spends her days surrounded by books and kids and chocolate.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

For Mary Lennox

                           Mistress Mary, quite contrary,
                           how does your garden grow?

Long before
you were a girl
who followed a bird
to find a key
to open a door
to a place
that would heal
the brutal wounds
left by a world
that taught you
there was nothing
beyond your own needs

you were a song that mocked
an heirless monarch, or else
you mocked another queen
for her husband’s falsity —
heavy is the head and all of that.
It’s difficult to pity someone
crushed by the weight of their jewels.

Bloody Mary or
Queen of Scots or
Mary Lennox,
one thing’s certain:

you were always
than anyone
could govern.

You were horrible,
spoiled and cruel to people
crushed not by jewels
but by entire worlds
stacked against them.

You were also a child
who awoke to her familiar world


and in its place only corpses.

Even before
that extraordinary horror,
you were a child neglected
by parents too dazzled
by their own wealth to care
that your garden was never tended.

You were your own secret garden,
abandoned and unloved,
noxious, unyielding vines
choking the sweet and bright,
blocking out every bit of light
but not quite strong enough
to destroy the bit of life inside.

When a thing is wick,
after all, it will grow.

You grow, Mary Lennox,
not because anyone else
trims back the vines,
lets in the light,
but because you are fierce
and sometimes that means horrible;
sometimes horrible is required
when one must vanquish choking vines.

But you are no longer a jewel
kept apart, cutting and sharp.
You’re not even wick, not now.
You’re so much more
than a hint of green inside.
You vanquished those vines
and you flourish, full of life, surrounded
by water and soil, bees and sun,
and you let them in

                                 and you bloom.

Title A Field Guide To Getting Lost
Author Joy McCullough
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade
Genre Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date April 14th 2020 by Atheneum Books For Young Readers
Find It On GoodreadsAmazonChaptersThe Book Depository

A girl with a passion for science and a boy who dreams of writing fantasy novels must figure out how to get along now that their parents are dating in this lively, endearing novel…

Sutton is having robot problems. Her mini-bot is supposed to be able to get through a maze in under a minute, but she must have gotten something wrong in the coding. Which is frustrating for a science-minded girl like Sutton — almost as frustrating as the fact that her mother probably won’t be home in time for Sutton’s tenth birthday.

Luis spends his days writing thrilling stories about brave kids, but there’s only so much inspiration you can find when you’re stuck inside all day. He’s allergic to bees, afraid of dogs, and has an overprotective mom to boot. So Luis can only dream of daring adventures in the wild.

Sutton and Luis couldn’t be more different from each other. Except now that their parents are dating, these two have to find some common ground. Will they be able to navigate their way down a path they never planned on exploring?

One response to “Her Story: Ladies In Literature 2019 with Joy McCullough”

  1. I’m so in love with this post and tribute! Thanks for sharing, Jen!
    Jamie @ Books and Ladders recently posted…Quarterly Wrap Up (3): 2019 Reading Goals [April-June]My Profile

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