Katherine Marsh, award-winning author of The Lost Year, visited the 7th Grade. Our students have been reading her book in their Language and Literature class and have been using it as inspiration for National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known to the class as NaNoWriMo! Katherine’s novel is about a 13-year-old boy named Mathew who, while trapped indoors during a Covid-19 quarantine, uncovers a dark family secret leading back to the Holodomor, the early 1930s Ukrainian famine caused by the aggressive agricultural policies of Joseph Stalin.
In her presentation to our 7th Graders, Katherine talked about her Ukrainian family’s stories, including her grandmother’s immigration to the United States, a process that was long and circuitous. When discussing the Holomodor, she shared information about how “fake news” and propaganda played roles in this painful, little known part of history. Next, Katherine shared her “Top Five Writing Tips for… Everyone.” (There is no such thing as bad or good writers. Conflicts/ problems are good. Writing is rewriting. Read widely, with curiosity. Think visually and cinematically: dialogue, action, cliffhanger.) At the end of her presentation that touched on literature, history, and her own personal history, students asked thoughtful questions about Katherine’s motivations and writing process.