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Spend Some Time on the Cover

A few years ago I took a course from Emily Rapp. Although sometimes I steer clear of reading the work of instructors–at least while I am taking their classes–this time I read her book right away. That’s because I was so taken with the photo on the cover.

Emily is a little girl on a pretty bike with training wheels. Her red hair is long. She looks like a fun but girly girl wearing white lacy socks and white sandals. But there is one thing amiss in the photo–the girl has an artificial leg.

I read Emily’s book not long after reading Lucy Grealy’s memoir. Both are about childhoods filled with surgeries and medical problems.  In this case, Emily’s foot was amputated by doctors as a treatment for proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD).

This memoir pulled me in because the voice is that of a friend, and she tells her story with honesty, humility, and intelligence.

What I learned from this book is that some writers can make a memoir look easy to write. Her book is so graceful and appears as if it has written itself. But I now know better. A lot of hard work went into making it all look simple. She didn’t spend that much time writing it either. And her degree was in theology, not writing. She graduated from Divinity School at age 23.

And I can’t forget why I read this book. Note to self: spend some time choosing a cover for your book because it truly can help sell it.

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