Why libraries? Because libraries rock. Libraries nurture. Libraries uplift and stimulate, shelter and educate.
In writing my upcoming memoir, FRECKLED: Growing up Wild in Hawaii, I was able to see how many times “going to the library” provided a destination when it was rainy and we were homeless; a place of solace when bullied, and a launch pad where worlds opened up to me from a remote island in the Pacific, at a time when Kauai had no TV or radio, and we had no phone.
In honor of libraries and the special place they hold in my heart, I’m giving away THREE pairs of these darling “library card” socks to commenters on the blog! Just tell us when YOU last visited a library!
Here’s a snippet from FRECKLED, coming out in 2018:
1975, Age 11, Kaua`i, Hawaii
I’m not only a redheaded, hippie bookworm, but I wear cheap, ugly glasses.
I’ve been having trouble with my vision for a couple of years. We can only afford the glasses Welfare will pay for, and there are four frame choices, each uglier than the last. This pair was the best of the options, and has lenses shaped like stop signs in thick purple plastic. In class at Hanalei School, I sit as close to the board as I can get and only put them on when I have to.
I go for yet another eye checkup an hour away in Lihue with old Dr. Yee, who’s been upgrading my glasses to stronger every six months since I was nine. This time, he pulls my mom aside for a whispered discussion. I frown, looking at them through the giant metal lens contraption I’m still stuck behind.
“What’s going on?” I say.
“Nothing, honey. We just need to see a specialist,” Mom says, and there’s a funny tightness in her voice that puts me on alert. On the way home, we stop by Kapa`a Library. Mom parks under an ironwood tree and sends me in alone.
“I need a break,” she says. “Being pregnant is making me tired.”
She looks pale and closes her eyes, leaning in back the seat as we wind down all the windows in the Rambler so the breeze passes through. The faithful old car is quite rusty now, the upholstery on the roof blooming in gray mildew patterns. I head into the small concrete cube of a library building, painted feng-shui red. Familiar sourish smells of dusty books and Mr. Clean fill my nostrils with a relaxing perfume as I head for the Adult side where I’m working my way through the shelves alphabetically.
I finished the entire CHILDREN/YA side of the library when I was ten. I’m seriously worried I’m going to run out of books, but for now I’ve still got several good sized shelves to go.
At the checkout, my old friend the librarian, Mrs. Rapozo, eyes me over her half glasses. She opens a stack of books topped by Erica Jong and James Joyce, since I’ve got to the J section. “Fear of Flying. Hmm. Does your mother know you’re reading this?”
“Sure. She doesn’t believe in censorship.”
Mrs. Rapozo tightens her lips, and I know I’m in for a good one. I’ve already devoured the Jackie Collins section, in spite of Mrs. Rapozo’s audible sniffs and attempts to catch my mom’s eye.
Mom starts the car when I get back in. We drive home, the windows down. There’s no music because Kaua`i’s too small to have its own radio station and the steep mountains prevent reception—the same reason there’s no TV on the island, either.
I lean my face on the window frame and watch the ocean stream by, the flashing lines of coconut trees, the swishing cane fields and corduroy rows of pineapple. I do my favorite driving daydream as my hand surfs the air beside the old Rambler.
The car is pulled by six galloping black horses, and I alternately stand on the hood and drive them, or climb onto their backs and urge them to go faster, cracking a rawhide whip over their heads. Sometimes, I lean down to unhitch one of them and let Bonny drive the team while I drop to the horse’s back and gallop out in front.
I can feel everything about the daydream: the surge of the horse’s muscles, silky under my bare legs; the wind cutting my eyes so I have to squint; the way the leather straps squeak with the strain of our speed. I breathe the warm perfume of horse that surrounds me, and love the way the animal pours on more speed when I bend alongside his neck and whisper “Go!” in his ear, just like Alec urging on the Black Stallion.”
Keep an eye out for FRECKLED in the coming year, and in the meantime, ask YOUR library to order Toby Neal digital books to share with readers!
My titles are on OVERDRIVE, the digital lending platform used by most libraries, so one purchase can be shared thousands of times! Trade paperbacks are also available for ordering through Ingram or other retailers.
Want to win the fun library socks? Just tell us in comments when you last visited a library!
Three winners chosen SAT.FEB. 10, 2018!