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Photo by author. I believe it was the scene that features Mary Jean and Lucille (my aunts who died as babies in 1933) that caused Nicole’s reaction.

One of the writers I most admire in the world, Nicole Helget, posted this to my Facebook timeline on Sunday:

“OK. This is really mean because the rest of you don’t get to read Rachael Hanel’s book until early next year, but I felt compelled to share that I just read a scene in it that made me put the book down, so I could get a drink of water and recompose myself. Frame of reference: the last time I felt like crying, a child was coming out of me.”

It’s been a long time since I was in the feedback stage of writing, so it was really incredible to find out a piece of the book caused this type of reaction.

Nicole burst onto the scene in 2007 with her memoir, THE SUMMER OF ORDINARY WAYS, published by Borealis Books. Seriously, this is one of the best memoirs out there. I read it many times as I was crafting my own memoir. It’s a great model to follow. Here’s what others have said about the book:

“After Helget lulls you with the simplicity so often mistakenly ascribed to country life, she takes your breath away with the sheer power and poetry of her emotional integrity.”—Booklist (starred review)
“In precise, cadenced prose, this gifted young author has taken the messiest of lives and fashioned something beautiful.”—People magazine (Critic’s Choice, four stars)

She subsequently wrote the novel THE TURTLE CATCHER, published by Mariner Books. Her upcoming novels include STILLWATER (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Spring 2013) and HALLELUJAH WONDER (Little, Brown, 2014). Her house bursts with talent because she and her husband, Nate LeBoutillier, co-wrote the middle grade book HORSE CAMP, which came out this summer.

How lucky for us that Nicole and Nate live in Mankato and contribute beautifully to the arts community here.