Middle Grade Mondays: Does Anyone Read I, Trissy?

When I was growing up, Norma Fox Mazer sat right up there with Judy Blume. I don’t know who the contemporary version of these writers might be. Is there such an animal or are the shelves too overwhelming these days to have one or two writers who speak for a generation?

Do things change too fast in our world now for someone to speak for them?

Both writers managed to get us through our adolescence / pubescence in a truthful and authentic manner, making us feel like they understood us in a way other adults didn’t.

I’ve often wondered what happened to one of my favourite books when I was in elementary school: I, Trissy. I searched on GoodReads and the description merely says: “A sixth-grade girl types out all the frustrations she feels following the separation of her parents.” There is no description on Amazon and no copy in the entire Vancouver Public Library catalog. The cover is so dated even if it WERE in the library, I wonder if anyone would pick it up:

That cover looks like a lovesick girl rather than an angst-ridden pre-teen and does nothing to communicate what’s really inside. I, Trissy is about a girl who gets a typewriter (i.e. in the oldie times, kids, before we had computers!) as a “guilt” gift from her father when her parents separate. At least that’s how she sees it. The entire book is made up of her typewritten rants, ramblings, and frustrations as she deals with the impending divorce.

I, Trissy felt like a guilty pleasure when I was a kid. It was passed among my friends in class like illicit material. I’m not sure why, as I don’t think our teacher would have confiscated it.

Maybe it was because it felt like we were reading something private. Maybe divorce wasn’t such a household word. Maybe we were a bit more innocent or sheltered than our contemporary counterparts (12 year olds these days do have access to far more information – and to each other, for that matter).

I remember Trissy being brash and bold and free and full of emotion. Unapologetic and impolite. It was a book that gave permission for a young girl to have a voice. And even through my parents were still together, I got her. Heck, I wanted to BE her.

I definitely attribute some of my longing to be a writer to I, Trissy. Perhaps she just triggered something that was already there. I pulled out my Dad’s typewriter after I read that book 3 or 4 times and started pounding out my own thoughts on the page. I wish I still had those pages. I wish I still had a copy of the book.


Filed under Middle Grade Mondays

18 responses to “Middle Grade Mondays: Does Anyone Read I, Trissy?

  1. I haven’t even heard of I, Trissy but wish I had when I was a kid. Perhaps I would have begun writing sooner than I did. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  2. I never read this either. Sounds angsty and fabulous.

  3. Never read this one, but I am going to try and find so I can. Thanks!

  4. Please do, I want to know if it was my imagination or if it was a really good book. lol. I’ll probably end up ordering a copy from ABE just to get over my curiosity.

  5. Archaelogical sleuthing for out-of-print books seems to be the theme of the week at MMGM (c.f. Gabrielle and the Belgian Twins.) I’m intrigued by your description of this one, too!

  6. Although I’ve certainly heard of Norma Fox Mazer (didn’t she die a few years ago?), I’ve never actually read anything by her! I admire your memory, remembering a book you no longer have in your possession. Hope you can find a copy and that it’s as wonderful as you remember.

    Over on Susan Olson’s blog (Time Travel Times Two), we just had a discussion about another out-of-print book from 1981 that I remember being awesome, and yet she didn’t care for it! I wonder if I’d still enjoy it. I actually have a yellowed old copy, so I might have to re-read it.

  7. I loved this post. I’ve never read this book, but I got that amazing connection we can have with a book that stays with us for life, and not only that, forms us for life.

  8. I’ve never heard of this and it’s sad that it seems to be out of print. I hoe you do get to find a decent copy to re-read.

  9. Akoss – I’ve got my elementary school buddies on the case. They want to see it again, too.

  10. Bcbcbc

    I have been searching for this book on Andy off for a while now. Was a wonderful book to read in my confused “angry” youth….having parents separated about the time I read this. I really think reading it helped me be a stronger person over the long haul.

    • Hi Bcbcbc ~ You can find it on Abe for pretty much the cost of shipping: http://www.abebooks.com/

      just do a search for I, Trissy

      I’m going to nab it again b/c I think I need too. I didn’t have an angry youth, my parents stayed together until my father died, but there was something about the freedom of expression she practiced. I guess I could relate b/c I wanted to be like that. Then and now!

  11. Joe

    I want to read this book now, your review seems like its a life changing book!

  12. late to the party

    I loved it and read it many times (it had a better cover in the 1970s library edition I borrowed). I also spent a summer typing out thoughts a la Trissy when I was perhaps 11 or so. It was a great book. I’d love to read it again.

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