Between Worlds 7: What Will Come releases today! The last of the “second season” of the series, I’m excited to enter into the last few months of such a downer year on such a high note. In this blog post, I’ll share with you insights about Between Worlds 7: What Will Come.
What Will Come for Juliana in Between Worlds 7
An only child who grew up away from extended family, Juliana has never faced the realities of aging. In Between Worlds 7: What Will Come, she performs at a community dance show at a nursing home. Expecting to see “cute old people,” as she might say, she witnesses a very different reality. Although she’s learned to talk to her parents and family a little more by now, her fears concern Opa, her mother’s and aunt’s and uncle’s father. How can she share her fears with her family without passing them on?
I became very close to my grandparents and great-grandparents because they all lived in the same city as I did. (I had a great-great-grandmother on my dad’s side who died when I was four, but I don’t believe I ever met her.) One grandfather died suddenly, a couple months shy of my ninth birthday, but I didn’t lose another member of those older generations until I was 17. Now in my 40s, I still have a grandfather. Living with the older generation for this long has helped me better understand aging over the years.
But in my teen years, aging was an uncomfortable topic. At home after my high school graduation, we were taking the requisite family photos, and my great-grandmother looked lost. Mom told me to go to her because she didn’t understand what was happening.
I felt lost, too.
This woman had big bones and strong hands and was my protector for years from her husband. Opa Zimmermann was a teaser and joker and enjoyed bugging me and my sister. He would lovingly tug our hair or stand between us and the console television, a playful grin on his face. My sister or I would yell “Opa!” in exasperation, and Oma Zimmerman would shout at him, “Bastel!” That was short for Sebastian, his full name, but what she actually meant with her tone was “Get out of the way and stop bugging the girls!” He’d laugh and shuffle off.
To see her confused… As an eighteen-year-old, I didn’t know what to do. When she suffered a stroke shortly before I left for Austria one summer, I knew I wouldn’t see her before I returned. She died while I was gone.
As more of my grandparents aged, I aged, too, and became more comfortable with how life transitions. But Juliana didn’t have the blessing of living around so many generations, and she’s not in her 20s. She’s 14.
Throughout the series, Juliana has developed a beautiful relationship with her grandfather and she becomes overwhelmed with how Alzheimer’s might change him. The story may be emotional for some readers, but the realization Juliana has about herself as she struggles with this new knowledge is, I hope, hopeful and uplifting, a feeling I try to achieve in all my Between Worlds books.
What Will Come for Elisabeth in Between Worlds 7
One difference between Elisabeth and Juliana is that Elisabeth must grow up faster. This is definitely accurate for Elisabeth’s time and culture and I believe it had to do with tradition and survival. Tradition provides security, and survival requires knowing how to fend for yourself. If Elisabeth’s mother died, Elisabeth would have been capable of looking after her siblings with extra help from extended family. In today’s society, Juliana would not have been allowed to live on her own.
One goal with this series was to create two girls who had different—but equally valid—goals in life. I find that girl culture goes through trends these days. For example, it seems untrendy to me to encourage girls into careers in the arts. STEM subjects are all the rage. (To my knowledge, the acronym STEAM came later, after arts supporters expressed their dissatisfaction.)
Some girls strive to build a career before family, but I’m certain many want the reverse. Why can’t girls desire to be mothers? Yes, for centuries, Western culture expected women to become moms, but these days, that’s rarely the case. The choice to become a mom is just that, a choice. I’d like to see it honoured among other “growing up” choices.
So through Elisabeth, readers can experience a girl who wants a family. You could argue she doesn’t know any better, but she loves to read and hear the weekly news from the postman, so she’s not that naïve. What you’ll find in Between Worlds 7: What Will Come is how Elisabeth begins to take steps toward her dream of having a family and creating that dream to suit her desires.
First Time You’ve Heard About the Series?
Thank you for reading this far! I write the books so you can jump in anywhere and still enjoy the read. However, the later you start in the series, the more you risk catching spoilers to earlier books. If that doesn’t bother you, then jump in wherever you’d like.
Readership for Between Worlds ranges from 9 up to 80+. The series deals with teens in transition, a very relevant theme today. It falls under “clean fiction,” i.e., fiction without swearing, sex, glorified substance use, and the like, but it is not conservative. As a multigenerational series, Between Worlds deals with aging, immigration, sexuality, gender roles, generational differences, and more, but it does so in a way that is empowering and uplifting for readers. If you have any questions or concerns about the series for yourself or younger readers, don’t hesitate to contact me.