Posted by: jeannineatkins | November 11, 2008

Ellen Wittlinger Reads at the Odyssey Bookshop

My children’s literature class at Mount Holyoke actually has a tag at the end: “and literature for teens,” which I didn’t hear until after accepting the invitation to teach the course. I happily added Alcott’s Little Women, which is one of the first novels specifically written for an audience of older girls and Ellen Wittlinger’s Hard Love, an award-winning novel about a high school senior boy falling in love with a self described “Puerto Rican Cuban Yankee Cambridge, Massachusetts, rich spoiled lesbian private-school gifted-and-talented writer virgin looking for love.” What does it mean for a character to name herself thus, we discussed, along with themes of alienation and sexuality, without forgetting the more familiar themes of family, friendships, and imagination.

On Monday, November 17 at 7:00, Ellen Wittlinger will read from Love and Lies: Marisol’s story, a sequel to Hard Love, and speak at The Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, MA. My articulate and brilliant 24 students will be there adding their articulateness and brilliance. Or something. Many are great fans of Ellen’s work, and I expect interesting questions will be raised. If you can, please join us!



  1. You’re such an awesome teacher. Seriously. And you will LOVE Ellen, if you haven’t met her yet. If I had to pick one word to describe her, it’d probably be “sassy.” Although “spunky” works, too.

  2. I would have loved to sit in on your discussions of LITTLE WOMEN!! It was one of my all-time favorite books growing up, though I read it (again and again) as a pre-teen. I should probably read it with my adult’s eyes, too.

  3. that’s wonderful! i’m a huge fan of ellen wittlinger wish i could be there!

  4. Thank you, Kelly. Ellen actually is almost a neighbor, ten minutes away. So you have to start bookmarking the Five Colleges around Northampton MA now for your daughters, and we can have some great lunches when you visit!

  5. I bet you’d like Little Women as much now as you did then. I think I do! It’s imperfect, as everything is, but the strength of Jo amid the warmth of the family is beautifully riveting.

  6. I wish you could be there, too! Raising havoc in the back row!

  7. Me? Raising havoc?
    *eyes dart*

  8. Jo’s strength is one of the things that really drew me into the book. And hmm…the Pilgrim’s Progress reference is something I’d also like to explore as an adult.
    Wondering…Do you have book discussion notes and/or other resources that you used and would recommend?

  9. Yikes, I honestly don’t know where to begin. Having written Becoming Little Women and another Alcott related ms that never sold, I know quite a bit about this family and time period. I guess if I knew which angle you’re most interested in I might be better able to recommend. If you have specific questions, why don’t you email me at jeanatkins at aol dot com. And if it’s easier we could make a time to talk on the phone. I do love going on and on about this family, and it is intriguing how crucial Pilgrim’s Progress seemed to be to Alcott’s imagination.

  10. What fun you’re all going to have there. I haven’t read either book–time to add to my list.

  11. That’s a fine idea!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: