This review of Once I Was Cool at Literary Chicago is my entire heart.

“I felt like, for the first time, I had this window into the interiority of Shaelene’s mind during those early months after our baby was born. After reading ‘Channel B,’ after being moved by it emotionally, I felt like I could empathize with her. Story—when done well—grants us the power of empathy. I gave it to Shaelene to read. I know it would make a better story if I had been there when she read the essay, but this isn’t fiction, and I wasn’t. I was working. She also cried. More than once. She told me after: ‘That was me. Step by step. I was there. That was me.’”

I was lucky enough to work with Scott Eagan at Columbia College, and he wrote an essay about what it was like for him, as a new dad; what it felt like when the woman that he loved was going through something like this. He read it aloud in class and I lost it. I melted down. In a good way. I melted, maybe. His writing allowed me to empathize more with Christopher. It’s this big, complicated, difficult, perfect back-and-forth of sharing and understanding and challenging and explaining, and I couldn’t be more grateful for it.

As a preview to the 2014 Children’s Read & Write Program, Printer’s Row asked some Chicago writers about their favorite character from childhood books. Per usual, I was not able to narrow it down to one, but I tried to show restraint and only talked about three