What’s your favorite thing? How about second? Third? What if I asked you what you’re seventh favorite thing is? You’d probably say, get to the point. So, I will.

The 7th Most Important Thing is the novel that the Medina County Library has chosen to be its focus for “One Book, One Community” this year. Despite the fact that it is labeled as a Young Adult book, I strongly encourage you to pick it up and give it a read. The story opens with Arthur, the main character, picking up a brick and hurling it with intention at an innocent victim. Angry young men lashing out against society. Can it get more poignant? 

I wrote to the author, Shelley Pearsall, and asked if she would agree to meet with me to discuss her book. Shockingly, she said yes! An Ohio native, she is remarkably humble and accessible despite the fact that she has won several awards for her writing, including the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. Her inspiration for this novel came from a real-life experience. She saw the artistic work of African American “outsider artist”, James Hampton, and was moved to craft a story around him. 

After reading her book, I was anxious to ask her about it. We met at a bookstore (how appropriate) and she shared amazing stories with me about how the title was chosen, how she never wanted it to be labeled as “historical fiction” (and then it won an award specific to that category), and two glaring historical inaccuracies in the book, which I defy you to find.

If you are going to read The 7th Most Important Thing, great! If you aren’t, you should ask yourself what else you have taking up your time that would be more enlightening than getting immersed in a story from the perspective of a teenager who reacts with rage against his community, an artist whom no one in American knew about until after his death, and a family torn apart by events that more people in our own community suffer from than you might care to admit? (Go ahead, ask yourself that. I’ll wait.)

Lecture over. Hopefully, I have guilted you into reading it. If you are a non-reader, download the audio and listen to it in the car. Better yet, listen to it with your kids and then discuss it. You won’t regret it.


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