When Cassandra pipes up

My final revisions of my new novel, What’s Left, heightened the role of her best friend forever and first-cousin, Sandra – short for Cassandra. She’s now active from age 11 on (rather than being central to the final chapter alone) and provides some punchy counterpoint to Cassia’s discoveries and questions during their adolescence.

Some vital exchanges occur when Cassia is railing to be in a “normal” family, unlike theirs, and Sandra points out her own struggles fitting in – her mother’s Japanese-American from San Francisco, after all, rather than from Indiana where she and Cassia live.

Sandra also has a heated perspective on their three great-aunts that Cassia doesn’t quite understand. As for their Barbie dolls? You’ll just have to see.

I’m going back to all those times I was forbidden to do something everyone else was doing or told we couldn’t afford something everyone else had. Could that be a springboard for a sense of not fitting in? How about all those times of being told your better than that, you can do better than whatever looked average around you?

This really is subtle, isn’t it?

What ways do you feel that you don’t quite fit in where you are? Or maybe didn’t at the time? What advice do you have for others?



A large Queen Anne-style house with a distinctive witch’s hat tower something like this is the headquarters for Cassia’s extended family in my new novel, What’s Left. If only this one were pink, like hers. (Cavendish, Vermont.)

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