Meet Liz Kerin.
Liz Kerin is an author, screenwriter, and playwright living in Los Angeles. She earned her degree in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. The Phantom Forest is her first novel.
The Guest Post.
Anyone who becomes a published author probably has a deep, heartfelt connection to the local library in their hometown. I’m no exception, but I got more from my town’s library than stacks of summer reading and video tapes of obscure Broadway musicals. My local library gave my family a new lease on life.
My mom instilled a love for books in me. She never left home without a beach read in her tote bag (even in the dead of winter) and she always had huge pile of paperbacks on her nightstand. One day when I asked her if she was ever actually going to read all those books, she looked at me, horrified, and said, “Of course I am.”
When I was in 5th grade, my mom suffered a devastating brain injury that took away her ability to communicate verbally. She entered a rehabilitation facility after being released from the ICU, where she worked with a speech therapist every day. The injury also affected her mobility and cognitive processing. When she finally came home, her therapists recommended she get a part-time job in the local community to help her readjust. Our library was the first to extend her an offer.
I would come hang out with her after school, reading while she shelved and sorted books. It was a peaceful, slow-paced place, and it was perfect for both of us. I’d also had a rough couple of years, all things considered, and it was nice to feel like our community had made space for us. This was a place where she didn’t struggle to communicate—after all, it’s rude to talk in the library. Stranger’s didn’t ask me upsetting questions about my mom’s condition, like they would at the grocery store or at school functions. We could just be, in this quiet space, and get a little peace.
Without the library, I don’t think my mom would’ve had the courage to go back into the world and live her life again. She worked there for over 12 years—long after I graduated high school. I’m so thankful to them for the space they gave my family. Now that I’m about to be a published author, I can’t wait to go home and give my mom’s “library ladies” a signed copy to loan out to their readers.
For my mom and I, libraries are so much more than a place to get homework done and snag the hottest new YA release. They’re public spaces that put people’s privacy first. In the city I now live in, I see my local library extending help to the homeless—particularly children and teens. Just like in my hometown, these librarians saw a member of their community in need, and they offered them a safe space. There’s an episode of This American Life, called “The Room of Requirement,” about how libraries can become havens for people with all sorts of different needs. I think “The Room of Requirement” is the perfect way to describe our library. It became exactly what we needed, exactly when we needed it.