Navigating Family Life, a guest post by Christina Uss

Being part of a family is hard. There, I said it.

My books are about characters finding a place to belong where they can be exactly, wholly, unabashedly themselves. Introverts are allowed to be mostly silent and alone whenever they want. Anxious kids who hate piano lessons get to stop taking piano lessons. People who love art get to make big art. People who dream of solving traffic puzzles get to solve Los Angeles. My new middle-grade novel, A FEW BICYCLES MORE, is about a girl discovering her ready-made already-in-progress family and her urgent questions on how selfish it is to want to be herself around them.

Two Bicycle books!

You know how we writers are supposed to throw our characters into uncomfortable situations, have them struggle and fail? Oy, this can be a challenge for me. My character Bicycle, she’s a good friend of mine from my first novel, THE ADVENTURES OF A GIRL CALLED BICYCLE. She and I found oodles of terrific ways for her to be wholly herself in that book. She rode her bike 4,000 miles and refused to let anything stop her. When I set out to write this sequel, I was a bit horrified at what I was doing to this sweet, independent soul: taking her away from her found family, where she fit in like a spokes in a well-trued wheel, and sticking her in with a bunch of kind people who not only don’t know how to ride bikes, but would forbid her from riding ever again.