Jenny Milchman’s debut novel, Cover of Snow, won the 2013 Mary Higgins Clark Award for best suspense novel. Her second book, Ruin Falls, came out in April and since then she has been on the road promoting it. We are so happy that she took time out of her busy schedule to share this with us.
When I was twelve years old, my parents tried to ban a book. It was Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber, and as you can see, I remember it to this day. Sybil is a tale of child abuse, and the fracturing of a personality that can result from it. My parents didn’t think I was ready to learn about that kind of horror. Of course, parents supervising a child’s reading material is not the same thing as state- or community-sanctioned censorship. But most people who try to ban a book believe they are protecting someone from something. They may not be acting quite as selflessly as my parents were, but they feel they are repelling some threat, while what they are actually doing is preventing the reader from entering a book’s pool of possibility. To return to my own tale…My parents and I sat down and discussed why I wanted to read Sybil. I was small for my age as a child, and bullied. I felt weak and mistreated and scared a lot in school. I’m not sure how much of this I was able to articulate, but my parents must’ve sensed that connecting to the little girl in the book might liberate something in me, and they lifted their ban. Decades later, I would become a psychotherapist and seek to help people who suffered abuse. Years after that, I became a writer of psychological fiction. Without fully understanding what they might be enabling that day, my parents gave me the keys to the kingdom, and I felt powerful in a way I never had before. No one knows why a reader connects with a particular book, or how one story might make all the difference in a person’s life. No one knows which words might do what for whom, and so no one has the right to ban a book.
Jenny Milchman is the author of the psychological thrillers Cover of Snow and Ruin Falls. As a child she made selections freely and liberally from the shelves of libraries.
Thank you so much, Jenny!