May 16, 2017
The Dead Inside
by Cyndy Etler
“I opened the hardcover of my young adult memoir, The Dead Inside, and saw a shiny goldish circle. JLG, it said. My stomach dropped. Was I hallucinating? My book? A Junior Library Guild selection? Not possible. But there it was.
Books were my friends and family when I was young. The ones with the special foil circles on the cover were the kings and queens, the extra-specials. I’d run my finger over those cover-medals, maybe chanting some incantation. Because that’s what I wanted. To be a writer. To be a writer who was so good, her books won foil circles.
When I was 13, and homeless, and alone, and desperate, such status seemed impossible. And it stayed that way. Until I opened the hardcover of my debut memoir. And saw that JLG circle.
According to WorldCat, my book is in 161 public libraries. I’m certain the validation in that circle opened many of those doors. I’m reaching out to public school librarians and administrators, name-dropping the Junior Library Guild, and getting quick emails in reply: “Please, send us more info!” I am, quite literally, living my dream.
The quality of my work had something to do with getting that gold foil circle, I’m sure. But you, Junior Library Guild, you gave that work a chance. To this kid, that’s nothing short of a miracle.”—Cyndy Etler