WOVEN: SIX STORIES, ONE EPIC JOURNEY
by Maureen Morrissey
Woven is my debut novel. I hope this book, written during the Covid-19 pandemic and begun the very day after I retired from teaching, will take you on a journey and give you some things to think about.
As a child, all the way through school, I found social studies and history classes beyond dull. I did not connect to the names, dates, wars, and events we were made to memorize. So when I became an elementary education teacher, I vowed to find some way for my students to understand and relate to the information they were expected to master. And I found myself learning along with them as we focused on the people of history, the why instead of just the when, where, and how. We asked more questions than we answered, and this fostered a growing curiosity about how the world got where it is today. This made it real; to them but also, to me.
It became even more real once I married someone from a very different background, and gave birth to three amazing human beings, who are now creating their own strands of our family stories.
But it really hit home for me one day while I was at work as a bilingual teacher. The secretary at the assistant superintendent’s office, filling out the ethnicity survey for the district employees, phoned to say she did not know what to put for me. It gave me a bit of pause as I realized I was the only bilingual teacher in the district whose last name was not “typically Latino”. It also struck me that none of my colleagues had been asked the same question. I really did not know what to say, so I asked her, tongue-in-cheek, “Is there a box that says ‘Spanish-speaking Jew with an Irish name?’” When she, a bit uncomfortable, answered in the negative, I told her to just check “other” and hung up.
Because of that experience and so many others, and because I love writing and I adore stories, I decided to create this book. The characters and events are mostly conglomerations of stories I’ve heard, people I’ve met, research I’ve done, and a whole lot of imagination, but people and events drawn from history are included too.
I learned so much during the writing of this book, and as a teacher, I would love to know if I inspired further curiosity in you.
Maureen Morrissey is a native New Yorker who taught elementary school for 37 years before retiring in June 2020.