Empty/K.M. Walton: Reflections

Monday, December 17, 2012

It was particularly difficult—and yet so important and poignant—to read K.M. Walton's second novel, Empty, late last night and into this early morning.  Kate is a friend of mine, a deep-thinking, big-hearted former school teacher who has devoted her novelistic life (so far) to making visible the too-often invisible lives of young people who have either been bullied or succumbed to the tease of hurting others.  In a recent, moving TEDx talk, Kate took us back into her teaching days and shared her effective cure for getting kids to stop hurting other kids.  It's mandatory watching.

With Empty, Kate focuses on Adele, 17 years old and massively overweight, a former softball star whose size now makes it difficult to play.  Her father has left the family.  Her mother, working two jobs and addicted to prescription pills, has moved Adele and her baby sister into inadequate, cramped quarters.  Adele's only friend doesn't even truly know Adele, and sometimes, for comfort, Adele will pour a box of cereal into a large mixing bowl and eat every single bite.  And things will only get worse.

One wants to believe (to hope) that no child is this alone, or in this much pain, but the news tells us differently.  The news reminds us of how frightening alone-ness is, and of what its consequences can be.  Empty is a brave book written by a brave writer—relentless, unblinking, harrowing.  We read it to know.  We read it disabuse ourselves of the easy notion that those young people floating on the margins will be just fine without us, that they somehow don't need our attention or care.

They are not fine without us.

They need our care.

I received an early copy of Empty from Kate.  Join her for her book launch on January 5, 2013 at the Barnes and Noble in Exton, PA, 7 PM to 9 PM.  I, most certainly, will be there.


JMH said...

I look forward to reading 'Empty' another novel that I know comes deep from Kate's heart. She is remarkable and I hope all parents will purchase this book and her first 'Cracked' for their teens. Enlightening and necessary tones in these difficult times when our children need to know they are not alone...

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