Reading a book allows us to escape into a world where things are different and, most of the time, better (at least at the end of the book). In Spirit Within Club, I put together a group of ten year-olds who, although not perfect, were striving for excellence by constantly trying to improve themselves.
I found the response to these characters quite interesting. Broadly speaking, they were of three kinds. For the most part, readers responded positively to them; barely a handful were of the second kind, i.e. reacting quite negatively. Then there were readers who liked the book but found it too unrealistic in its relentless optimism. These are the ones who to this day intrigue me the most. Some thought that the characters were too perfect; others thought that the adults were too nice; and some thought that everything tied up too neatly. I constantly reread the first volume of the Spirit Within Club as I work on the second one and it strikes me each time how normal the kids in this book are to me; these are the ten year-olds that I have had the opportunity to interact with. I feel sad that readers found them abnormal in the level of excellence they strived for.No doubt that, amidst the noise created by sensationalistic articles about the plummeting norms of society and the increasing debauchery of the younger generation, countless stories of excellence are lost. And yet, how can we consider the bar so low, when there are so many stories around us about the heroism and selflessness characteristic of that age group? I came to realise that the third category of readers is the very reason why I need to continue writing this series. In a small way, I’m contributing to a movement countering the portrayal of the younger generation in popular media. We need more stories that look at the thousands upon thousands of youth who are working hard on becoming better individuals and contributing to the betterment of their community. We need to stop focusing so much on the few that misbehave, and be inspired by those who shine brightly. And so, the Spirit Within Club series—and the still untitled young adult book I’m currently working on—will continue to feature kids and youth who, although imperfect, try hard to be good people.
About the book:
The arts teacher is ruining what used to be Aiko's favorite class.
Zeke misses out on the best part of the whole year – the science fair – when he has to go into the hospital.
Arwen lives to play soccer but a stupid lie means he might not be allowed to play.
Ghada comes home to find that her beloved grandma has died.
When ten-year-old friends set up an after-school club so they can hang out together more often, they don't expect to be able to solve these problems themselves.
But when they tap into the spirit within them, they and their friends discover that they have the power to make the world a better place.
The Spirit Within Club on Amazon