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  • Kristan Higgins


Having a son who doesn’t love to read fiction is something of a blow, I admit. All those years of me reading aloud, from Frog and Toad to Harry Potter, did not make him love fiction. He reads other things…nonfiction and articles and all that. Just not novels. Including his mother’s.


This was fine, as he was only five when my first book came out. The Princess had to wait until she was fourteen to read my books, which is appropriate, I think. Even my romances close the door, so they’re not graphic. Besides, she says she skips over the “disgusting kissing parts” (disgusting because her mother wrote them and knows about kissing).


So I didn’t expect Dearest Son to want to read my books quite as much, even though many of his female friends adored them. I dedicated a book to him, as one does, and read the acknowledgements aloud every time, since my husband and kids always get some smushy, heartfelt love. I sign and date a first copy for each of my children the day my author copies arrive, and each of them has a shelf in their rooms of my work. The Princess immediately reads each book as soon as she gets her hands on it. Dearest Son never does.


But as he grew older, and as my books became more general fiction with fewer disgusting kissing parts, I did start to feel the lad should know firsthand what his mother did for a living. And so, when he was in college, I selected Life and Other Inconveniences and told him I wanted him to read it.

“I’m sure your books are very good,” he said. “And I’m proud of you. They’re just not my style.”


“Read it anyway,” I said.




“Because I said so,” I answered, that eternal, unbreachable maternal answer. Then I adjusted course. “Because these books have given you a lot, and I work very hard on them. I want you to see what I do.”


I read them,” said McIrish, earning a jaundiced glance from our son.


“Okay,” the lad sighed.


About a month later, I asked him what he thought of the book. “I haven’t started it just yet,” he said. “I mean, I read a few pages, and it’s great. But school, you know?” To be fair, he was a double major and ran cross country.


“If you read five pages a day, you’ll be done by Christmas,” I said helpfully.


He made a noncommittal noise. Christmas came and went. Spring break, ditto. He came home for the summer.


“Have you finished my book?” I asked.


“Almost,” he lied.


“You’ve had a year,” I said.


“And I love it. It’s great. I’m just not quite finished.”


Two months later, readers, Dearest Son was back at school. But he called me one night and said, “I thought your book was very good. I especially liked the way you wrapped things up at the end. Genevieve was a great character.”


I was aglow. “Thank you, honey!” I said, and that was that.


Recently, one of my son’s former schoolmates sent me a screenshot of Pack Up the Moon, in which there’s a fictional bar named after my son. She highlighted the sentence. “I see what you did there,” she wrote.


I forwarded the screenshot to Dearest Son. “Since you won’t find out otherwise,” I texted.

He responded (without capital letters or punctuation, the better to torture me), thanks for naming me as a bar I love it hahahaha


My response: Always thinking of you, sweetie!


Because I am, of course. Maybe someday, my son will read my books. Maybe his future wife will. Maybe not. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. My son is a doting uncle and brother. He calls his grandmothers. He calls me every week and texts often. He loves me. He’s proud of me.

A mother can’t ask for more than that.



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