Unsurprisingly, books and stories have been a constant in my life. They were a means of escape and adventure and knowledge, and to a child who was told and instructed in strict, specific beliefs, this miracle of change and wonder that could be easily accessed from the library a block away was amazing. Many books have had an impact and change in my life allowing me glimpses of other cultures and lives and perspectives, so it is virtually impossible to narrow it down to a single book that changed my life. However, there are some that stand out above the rest.
The first that comes to mind is In the Forests of the Night by Atmelia Atwater-Rhodes. I won’t say that this book, and its accompanying titles and series, is the pinnacle of literature. Nor would I argue that it is truly an incredible read that everyone should experience. It is a fine work of literature in the vein of fantasy writing aimed for young adults and adolescents. Admittedly, it has aged far better than other similar example, particularly those of a massively successful bigot, but still not exactly must read books.
Yet, for me, it was not so much the book’s story as the story behind the book that affected me. Amelia Atwater-Rhodes wrote the original draft of the story for In the Forests of the Night when she was thirteen. Due to unfortunate circumstances, she lost much of the original script, rewrote and edited it, and managed to get it published two years later when she turned fifteen. Now, again, this book was not a global success like others, but it did receive recognition and accolades by legitimate organizations and groups. And from this book, she was able to have a substantial publishing career where she wrote and published ten books across two series.
For a kid obsessed with stories but very unsure of potential or talent or how to even get started in attempting a literary career, this book was a god send. It showed that maybe a writing career of some kind was possible. Now, I have yet to achieve said goal, but whenever I am down or uncertain, I like to remember this book and reread the story that gave me that spark of hope back in my youth.