Melody Carlson: Visiting the Past
The Allison O’Brian series is a glimpse into the past in more than one way. It’s an adventure set against a post-World War II backdrop—but it’s also a glimpse into the early writing of Melody Carlson, the prolific and popular writer of more than 200 books, from the critically acclaimed Finding Alice to children’s picture books to teen series like Diary of a Teenage Girl.
“Allison O’Brian’s story was my second book to write,” Carlson reflects. “The first one was written longhand on a legal pad and that book remains safely tucked away.”
While the story of Allison O’Brien’s search for love and family (she never knew her father and her mother is a glamorous movie star) was originally written at the beginning of Carlson’s career, she believes because they’re semi-historical, the books are timeless. She chose to set the books just after World War II for a couple reasons. “I felt that was an interesting and romantic era,” she says, “a time when servicemen were coming home and life was returning to normal. Because they were set in my mother’s era, they hold a special place in my heart. I queried her and my aunt for information about the late ’40s and they both read all four books, giving me helpful feedback.”
Melody wants the books to hold a special place in her readers’ hearts as well. “I hope readers simply enjoy the story for the adventure it is, but I also hope they’ll bond with Allison. She has such a longing for family, heritage, craving a space where she will fit in. In some ways not so different from pre-teens today. Also, she has her own spiritual awakening when she learns to trust God for her otherwise shaky sort of life.”
While Melody Carlson’s books tend to be for older teens and adults, Allison O’Brian On Her Own Volume 1 and Volume 2 (Revell) are aimed at readers 9-12.