To: The Women's National Book Association/LA Chapter
and the Judy Lopez Memorial Foundation
I am thrilled to receive this award and so sorry that I can't be with you tonight. I have great respect for the Judy Lopez organization and it's an honor to be counted among the winners.
Close to Famous is a deeply personal book for me, and not just because I am close to being a cupcake fanatic. It taught me a lesson that I hope I will never forget.
I grew up among storytellers – my grandmother was a professional teller, my mother was a high school teacher, and reading was my love for as long as I can remember. Books, libraries, book stores always held such magic for me, but when I began this story of a girl who was a severely challenged reader and a remarkable baker, I had no trouble connecting to her baking gifts, but understanding her plight as a non-reader was a different story.
I had no idea what it was like to look at words on a page and instead of seeing friends, see enemies. I wondered how I could get in her head. I talked to literary specialists, but still the personal part of me, Joan, truly, deeply, painfully understanding Foster’s problem wasn't there, until I remembered the things I am not good at – that I struggle with, that embarrass me – I'll spare you the list – but I promise you, it isn't short. And, of course, this is how Foster felt about reading – and then I connected with this girl fully. We all have broken places that we want to hide, but the sheer act of letting a weakness come into the open can have remarkable power. And adding a cupcake to the experience just opens the doors to joy.
Thank you for this lovely reward. Know that tonight in Brooklyn I will raise a cupcake to you all.