The summer I was 12, I stole my mother's paperback copy of The Thorn Birds, the epic and juicy novel by Colleen McCullough. It was a slow summer. My mother didn't go in for the idea of camp or other organized activities. I remember my brothers and me watching a lot of television and eating powdered Jell-O. Mostly I lay in my bed and read. The Thorn Birds was the book I lived in. It was big, and my life was small. I lost track of the number of times I read it in the shamed way I lose track of the cookies I've eaten after passing the dozen mark. Going back and rereading it now, I remember almost every sentence. And it is good, full of longing and sacrifice. The names and places Drogheda most of all still hit my brain like poetry.
My single complaint, I remember, was the name of the leading man: Ralph. I think that's because in the other book I read that summer, Judy Blume's Forever, it's the name of something else entirely.
Brashares wrote the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants novels and The Last Summer (of You and Me)