When I wrote the first draft of In Leah's Wake, our children were teens. With four teenage daughters, I worried constantly. Like Zoe, I used to think, if only I knew everything would turn out well I wouldn’t worry so much. Of course we can’t see into the future, so I was always anxious.
The teen years are a vulnerable time; even nice kids from the best families sometimes fall in with the wrong crowd. I had a friend – a smart, caring, lovely woman – whose youngest child was a coke addict, in and out of jail. My friend’s husband would leave money in the car, knowing that their son would come by at night to “steal” it. This was one of the most well-regarded families in town. The other three children were never in trouble, wonderful kids who grew up to be successful adults. You just never know.
Watching these things happen, experiencing our own normal challenges, made me want to hold tightly to my children – every minute of every day. At the same time, if we want our children to become independent adults, we have to let go. Defining that line, figuring out when to hold on, how tightly, and when to open your arms and set them free is, to my mind, among the most difficult challenges parents face. And it was one of the driving forces behind this novel.