Key Kid! with Karen Rivers (THE GIRL IN THE WELL IS ME)

hey kid

Hey, Kid!

Guess what?   I have the BEST NEWS EVER! Here it is: You’re going to grow up to be a writer. TRUE FACT.  You are going to write all the books that you ever wanted to read. It doesn’t get any cooler than that. Am I right?   And hey, you know that Scholastic book catalogue that comes out once a month and appears on your desk like magic?   YOUR books will be in that catalogue one day and kids just like you are going to buy them. If your mind is not blown by this, then I don’t even know you.

But I do know you! I know you, because you are me.


This is weird, right?   Right.

Mostly what I want to do is just reach through time to you and give you a hug, which you would find creepy and terrible and afterwards you’d immediately retreat to your reading nook, AKA your bedroom closet, which is devoid of clothes but has a nice lamp and some pillows and blankets and a fantastic stack of books. I don’t blame you.   If my closet wasn’t such a mess – it turns out that once you grow up, you stay largely the same size forever, so “growing out of your clothes” isn’t actually a thing any more – if there was any room in there whatsoever, I might be tempted to do the same thing. My bedroom is in the attic now and it is very similar to sleeping in the closet, except there are skylights so that I can lie awake – I still sometimes can’t sleep – and look at the stars and think about everything everything everything. Just like you.

Sometimes this “everything” is more interesting than others. A lot of times, it’s the same as your everything: Is this tooth pain a cavity? Will I die at the dentist from a severe allergic reaction to flouride? What if one day, I’m walking too close to the edge of a cliff and I trip on my shoelace and next thing you know, I’m falling?   WHAT THEN?

I mean, we both know what insomnia is like. It’s basically the meanest of all the mean girls.

But a lot of times now when I can’t sleep, instead of worrying about dying, I can think, “What would my character do if she was on a boat and suddenly, a humpback whale breached and the boat split in two?”   (That’s what I’m working on right now. Don’t tell anyone.) Anyway, it turns out that your love for the oceans will play a big part in your books later and boy, is it going to matter a lot to the world that there are people who are passionate about saving the oceans. They’re a mess. You won’t even believe what terrible things we do to them in-between you being you and you becoming me. So keep trying to save everything. Everything is going to need to be saved like you wouldn’t believe.

Now listen: A few months ago, something really bad and very scary happened in your family, and the aftershock of that is that you’re going to have to change schools and start over in only a couple of short months from when this photo is being taken.   This is going to be harder than you think, no lie.   I wish I could make you ready, but the truth is, if I had to do that kind of “starting over”, even today, I’d do pretty much what you are going to do, which is to hide very far inside the covers of a thousand books. I was going to give you advice, like “Come out of your shell! Don’t be so shy! Smile at people!” But I’ve changed my mind because all that reading is going to pay off in the end. You will never regret a single book that you’ll ever read except for Thinner, because you’ll never be able to eat strawberry pie again after that.   And you’re going to be OK. You’re going to make some great friends, who will still be your friends thirty years later, and you’re going to survive every single thing that you think you’re not going to survive. No one ever died of embarrassment, that’s the truth.

Listen up: I love you. You’re great. You’re funny and smart and interesting. And eventually, you’ll figure out how to dress nicely and do your hair like everyone else. I feel lucky to have known you. I feel lucky to have been you, no matter how skinny and awkward and poorly dressed you think you are. Seriously, it never matters what you’re wearing as long as you wear it like you mean it. No apologies.

If I were to give you one piece of advice, it would be this: Be brave and kind.  That’s pretty much all there is to it. Take it all on with courage. And be nice when you do it. Simple, right?

Oh, there are two more pieces of advice that I’d like to give, seeing as I have this opportunity. The first is this: Never Google your symptoms. Right now, the word “Google” sounds like something I made up, but believe me, you’re going to know what it is one day, and the temptation to enter all your unusual health concerns into the search bar will be overwhelming. Do NOT do this.

The second is to travel, whenever and wherever you can. Travel is like reading in three-dimensions.   It’s scary to go out of your comfort zone, but you’re brave, remember? Don’t say ‘no’ to adventures. It will be worth it, swearsies.

Be brave and happy, kiddo. You’re going to be just fine.


9781616205690Longing to be one of the popular girls in her new town, Kammie Summers has fallen into a well during a (fake) initiation into their club. Now Kammie’s trapped in the dark, counting the hours, waiting to be rescued. (The Girls have gone for help, haven’t they?)

As hours pass, Kammie’s real-life predicament mixes with memories of the best and worst moments of her life so far, including the awful reasons her family moved to this new town in the first place. And as she begins to feel hungry and thirsty and light-headed, Kammie starts to imagine she has company, including a French-speaking coyote and goats that just might be zombies.

Karen Rivers has created a unique narrator with an authentic, sympathetic, sharp, funny voice who will have readers laughing and crying and laugh-crying over the course of physically and emotionally suspenseful, utterly believable events.

The Girl in the Well is Me can be found on Indiebound, B&N, and Amazon, or ask for it at bookstores and libraries near you.

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

Karen Rivers absolutely loves writing books told from the point of view of kids and teens. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, with her own kids, whose ideas she tries not to steal too often. She has two dogs, two birds, and two kids, because if one of something is good, then two of something must be twice as good. She is the author of nineteen novels. Her forthcoming books are THE GIRL IN THE WELL IS ME (Spring 2016/Algonquin Books For Young Readers) and BEFORE WE GO EXTINCT (June 2106/FSG). More information about Karen can be found at her website at You can follow her on Twitter (@karenrivers) or Facebook.

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