Ten years ago this summer, having just stopped teaching and with an infant at home, I was ready to jump back into writing. I arranged for weekly, two-hour, baby-free dates with myself, and armed with Starbucks coffee, scraps of paper, and a pen, I spent those days poring over journals I’d convinced my mom to gather for me, taking notes and getting a feel for the girls I’d heard about my whole life.
In the 1950s my mother (front row, last on the right) started a girls’ club that grew to fourteen members. They met weekly in a backyard clubhouse, held regular elections, hosted extravagant holiday parties, sold Easter eggs, traded books, collected dues, argued, cried, kept meticulous records, “improved” themselves by pointing out each others’ flaws, donated to charities, sent themselves to summer camp, volunteered their parents to do things that benefitted the group, kicked troublemakers out of meetings, fined talkers, and cemented friendships that, sixty years later, are still going strong.
While the manuscript that came from those summer reading sessions isn’t the story of The Little Nippers, it is most certainly inspired by their strong personalities, conflicts, loyalty, and drive.
The Nippers are turning seventy this year. In a few weeks they’ll be off for another reunion, revisiting their childhoods and sharing the years since then. And I’ll be returning CAN’T BREAK US to agent Michelle, hoping that this round of edits is the charm.
Thanks, ladies, for the rich stories I grew up hearing, for your feisty, intelligent, complicated, entertaining experiences that figured so much into my own childhood, taught me about friendship, and showed me how fun it is to be a kid.