I’m a great believer in finding books by serendipity, and I’m delighted that my neighborhood is full of Little Free Libraries, where the most unexpected things can be found. Recently I came across a book from my childhood, unrelated to the subjects I now write about, which I recalled with delight: Sterling North’s memoir, Rascal, about the raccoon he raised and loved for a year when he was a boy.
I adored the descriptions of the Wisconsin landscape afresh, and I was moved by the motherless boy’s connection with an animal. But I was astonished that this book was considered appropriate for children in its day. It is about the most profound kind of loss—when the raccoon stays true to its nature, despite the love and nurture of a human being, it is ultimately about heartbreak.