Her Story: Ladies In Literature With Laura Weymouth

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 thirty-three 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 Laura Weymouth

Laura Weymouth is a Canadian in exile who currently resides in western New York. She lives at the edge of the woods with her husband, two wild-hearted daughters, a spoiled cat, and an indeterminate number of chickens.

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“I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light,
All calm, as it was bright;
And round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years,
Driv’n by the spheres
Like a vast shadow mov’d…”
~Henry Vaughan

My teen years were marked by a painful uncertainty about almost everything. I was old enough to be aware of problems in the world around me — I knew things were going on with the environment and climate that would likely never be reversible. I worried about that; I worried about those living in poverty, both in my own neighborhood and around the world; I worried about religion and faith, and how I was supposed to sort out the answers to life’s big questions. I worried about a lot of things, and never seemed to come up with answers to any of the questions I was asking.

Amidst all of that, I read. I read widely and voraciously, though my favorite project was working my way through the books in our small library’s Young Adult section. One day, when I was nearly sixteen, I came across a book with an image of a girl and a dolphin on the cover. Ever since reading Farley Mowat’s A Whale For The Killing, I’d had a love for whales and dolphins (I still do!) and though the cover of the book would have sold it to me all on its own, the title was equally intriguing. A Ring Of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle. I took it home, read it, and immediately started it over again. It became a book I went back to time after time, a source of comfort in the middle of all my teenaged uncertainty.

Vicky Austin, the narrator and protagonist of A Ring Of Endless Light, is fifteen going on sixteen, just like I was when I first found her. She’s a girl who doesn’t know where she belongs — her family’s done some moving around, and it’s made her feel out of place. As the daughter and granddaughter and great-granddaughter of a long chain of immigrants, who’d spent most of my childhood moving from house to house, I knew exactly how Vicky felt.

A Ring Of Endless Light opens at a funeral, with Vicky in attendance. The setting is idyllic in other respects — a lovely island somewhere off the American east coast, where Vicky and her family have gone to spend the summer with her grandfather. But even that aspect of Vicky’s life is a question mark. The duration of the Austin family’s stay is unknown, because Vicky’s beloved grandfather is dying of cancer.

Throughout the book, Vicky, a deeply sensitive and empathetic person, grapples with exactly the sort of questions I wrestled with as a teen. She’s straightforward and honest about her many uncertainties, whether they be in regards to relationships, religion, or life and death. Seeing Vicky acknowledge and work through her questions on the page, and often simply come to a point of holding those questions close, rather than requiring answers, was a source of encouragement and hope for me as a teen.

Vicky comes out alright in the end, and I did too, with a bit of help from her and others. She and her family go through difficult and trying times, but in spite of it all, Vicky never fails to find beauty in the world around her. She finds it in written words, she finds it in connections with other people, she finds it on land, and she finds it in the sea. She learns that, yes, our lives may be uncertain, and marked by shifts of light and shadow, but that in the end, it’s ours to choose which we turn towards. I learned right along with her — to hold my questions close, to live without requiring answers, and to always turn towards the light.

Title The Weight Of Worlds
Author Laura E. Weymouth
Pages N/A
Genre & Keywords Fantasy
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
To Be Published 2018 by HarperTeen
Find It On Goodreads

A queen crowned in the woodlands is a queen forever.

These are the words Evelyn Hapwell lives by. Six years ago, Evelyn was swept away to a strange and beautiful kingdom, where she ruled alongside her brother and sister for decades. But the Hapwell children were sent back to their old lives in our own world, and each day, Evelyn wakes up waiting to return to the Woodlands. As it becomes increasingly clear that there will be no triumphal home-going and that she is in fact, a queen in exile, Evelyn struggles to come to terms with how to live in this world, and how to build a kingdom here. Because foreign policy and governing a country are simple enough, but boys and boarding school and friends in post-war England are another matter entirely.

Your sister’s gone missing.

Four words are all it takes to shatter Len Hapwell’s self-imposed exile in America. After fleeing from the fight to keep Evelyn grounded in reality, Len returns to London to find her sister has vanished, and no one knows what’s happened. Riddled with guilt over abandoning Ev, Len searches for answers while dealing with the fallout of Evelyn’s disappearance. To uncover the truth of what happened to her sister, Len will have to confront how deeply troubled Evelyn really was, and the lengths she was willing to go to for a chance to return to the kingdom of her heart.

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Jen is a thirty-something Canadian book blogger and bibliophile currently residing in the wilds of suburbia. Aside from a penchant for older men, particularly those with the surnames Firth, Elba and Norton, Jen is also passionately interested in running, Mad Men, and Marilyn Monroe. In addition to being a voracious reader and self-proclaimed television addict, Jen is also an aspiring children and youth services librarian who would like to pursue a MLIS and better help readers find the perfect book for them.