Hermes, Patricia (Mary) 1936-
HERMES, Patricia (Mary) 1936-
PERSONAL: Born February 21, 1936, in Brooklyn, NY; daughter of Frederick Joseph (a bank vice president) and Jessie (Gould) Martin; married Matthew E. Hermes (a research and development director for a chemical company), August 24, 1957 (divorced, 1984); children: Paul, Mark, Timothy, Matthew, Jr., Jennifer. Education: St. John's University, B.A., 1957.
ADDRESSES: Home—1414 Melville Ave., Fairfield, CT 06430. Agent—Dorothy Markinko (juvenile books) and Julie Fallowfield (adult books), McIntosh & Otis, Inc., 310 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10017.
CAREER: Rollingcrest Junior High School, Takoma Park, MD, teacher of English and social studies, 1957-58; Delcastle Technical High School, Delcastle, DE, teacher of homebound children, 1972-73; Norfolk Public School System, Norfolk, VA, writer-in-residence, beginning 1981; Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT, teacher of English and writing, 1986-87. Gives numerous talks and workshops in elementary schools.
MEMBER: Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Society of Children's Book Writers.
AWARDS, HONORS: Best Book for Young Adults designation, American Library Association, 1985, for A Solitary Secret, and 1992, for Mama, Let's Dance; Hodge-Podger Award, 1993, for Mama, Let's Dance; Someone to Count On named among Best Books for the Teen Age, New York Library, 1993; California Young Reader Medal, Hawaii Nene Award, Pine Tree Book Award, and Iowa Young Reader Medal, all for You Shouldn't Have to Say Goodbye; several Children's Choice awards.
young adult novels
What If They Knew?, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1980.
Nobody's Fault?, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1981.
You Shouldn't Have to Say Goodbye, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1982.
Who Will Take Care of ME?, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1983.
Friends Are Like That, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1984.
A Solitary Secret, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1985.
Kevin Corbett Eats Flies, illustrated by Carol Newsom, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1986.
A Place for Jeremy, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1987.
Heads I Win, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 1988.
Be Still My Heart, Putnam (New York, NY), 1989.
I Hate Being Gifted, Putnam (New York, NY), 1990.
Mama, Let's Dance, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1991.
My Girl (movie novelization), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1991.
Take Care of My Girl, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1992.
Someone to Count On, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1993.
My Girl II (movie novelization), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1994.
On Winter's Wind, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1995.
Zeus and Roxanne, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Fly Away Home, Newmarket Press (New York, NY), 1996.
Christmas Magic, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.
Calling Me Home, Avon (New York, NY), 1998.
Cheat the Moon, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1998.
Our Strange New Land: Elizabeth's Diary, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2000.
In God's Novel, Marshall Cavendish (Tarrytown, NY), 2000.
Westward to Home: Joshua's Journal, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.
A Perfect Place: Joshua's Oregon Trail Diary, Book Two, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.
The Starving Time: Elizabeth's Diary, Book Two, Jamestown, Virginia, 1609, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.
Season of Promise: Elizabeth's Jamestown Colony Diary, Book Three, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2002.
Sweet By and By, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.
The Wild Year: Joshua's Oregon Trail Diary, Book Three, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.
Nothing but Trouble, Trouble, Trouble, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1994.
I'll Pulverize You, William, Minstrel, 1994.
Everything Stinks, Minstrel, 1995.
Thirteen Things Not to Tell a Parent, Minstrel, 1995.
Boys Are Even Worse Than I Thought, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Christmas Magic, illustrated by John S. Gurney, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.
Turkey Trouble, illustrated by John S. Gurney, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.
Something Scary, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1996.
When Snow Lay Soft on the Mountain, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1996.
My Secret Valentine, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1997.
Summer Secrets, Marshall Cavendish (Tarrytown, NY), 2004.
A Time to Listen: Preventing Youth Suicide, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1987.
Contributor to periodicals, including Woman's Day, Life and Health, Connecticut, County, American Baby, and Mother's Day.
Some of Hermes's books have been translated into French, Italian, Japanese, Danish, and Portuguese.
ADAPTATIONS: Fly Away Home was made into a feature film starring Jeff Daniels.
SIDELIGHTS: The author of such juvenile novels as Fly Away Home and A Place for Jeremy, Patricia Hermes writes candidly about the most difficult events that a child can face. Whether her protagonists are enduring famine in colonial Jamestown or the erratic behavior of a modern-day alcoholic parent, they are thrust into demanding situations and forced by fate to make choices beyond their years. Hermes's books are often somber in tone and rarely resolve themselves with fairytale endings. Instead her first-person narrators grow stronger through adversity and learn to depend upon themselves despite their tender years. As a contributor to the St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers put it, "Problem novels such as these tend to condescend to readers, focusing on a specific issue at the expense of plot and character development, and offering solutions where sometimes none can be reached. Hermes attempts to avoid these foibles by implementing a first-person narrative voice…. Allowing a character to tell his or her own story adds dimension and complexity to the character."
A former school teacher, Hermes began to write novels when her own children were young. She forged her early plots from her own memories of childhood as well as from her children's adventures amongst themselves and with their friends. Now that her children have grown and started families of their own, Hermes makes frequent visits to elementary schools to take the pulse of a new generation of students. Unlike other authors who have followed trends toward more realistic fiction, Hermes has always addressed serious issues such as child abuse, fatal illness, and moral dilemmas. While she leavens her work with humor, she writes with serious intent. The St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers contributor observed that the author's books "explore the idea of hidden shame. Most young people do not want to be different; conformity becomes almost an obsession. A step toward maturity comes with the realization that everyone has secrets, problems they will not tell even their 'best friend.'"
A recurring theme in Hermes's novels is the fallibility of parents or guardians. In A Solitary Secret, one of the characters is the victim of incest. In Take Care of My Girl, the award-winning Mama, Let's Dance, Someone to Count On, and Cheat the Moon, the problem is parental abandonment, which forces the young-teen narrators to step into a position of responsibility and care for home and siblings. Such works as You Shouldn't Have to Say Goodbye and The Sweet By and By deal with the grief children feel when a parent or grandparent dies. Sometimes the most difficult lesson these young narrators must learn is to have the faith to place their trust in another adult. In an interview with Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Hermes said, "I think children know everything there is to know about emotions by the time they are three or four. As parents we sometimes want to protect our children from anything that is painful, but what we're really trying to do is protect ourselves, and in doing so, we harm them. When you're dealing with these things in a book—if it gets too scary or too painful—you can close it, or go talk to someone about it."
Many reviewers have praised Hermes not only for the subject matter of her novels but for their subdued presentation as well. Vicki Hardesty in, Voice of Youth Advocates, called You Shouldn't Have to Say Goodbye "an excellent portrayal of a teenager adjusting to the terminal illness of a parent." Booklist reviewer Karen Stang Hanley commended Who Will Take Care of ME? as "an affecting story that is especially moving in its portrayal of the complex, tender relationship between two brothers." In School Library Journal, Barbara Auerbach noted that Sweet By and By "is filled with memorable characters and heart." And a Publishers Weekly correspondent felt that Calling Me Home is "a cut above" most juvenile historical fiction. The critic concluded that the novel is "a solid story, neatly told."
Hermes once told CA: "Children live in the world and are part of the world, and they need books that reflect their world. Adults often forget this. And in trying to present a sanitized version of life, we cheat children. Kids are gutsier and more courageous than we give them credit for. They need honest books. So many good books are removed from libraries because adults fear their content. And the content is often not threatening, but something as harmless as slang or normal kids' speech." In the St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, she concluded: "I can do things in a book that I wouldn't dare do in real life…. But best of all, I can sometimes—in a very small way—make a difference in the life of a young reader, as authors made a difference in my life when I was a young adult—as they continue to do today."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Volume 15, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1995.
St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Booklist, September 15, 1983, Karen Stang Hanley, review of Who Will Take Care of ME?, p. 171; August, 1986, Ilene Cooper, review of Kevin Corbett Eats Flies, p. 1688; October 1, 1995, Chris Sherman, review of On Winter's Wind, p. 314; June 1, 1998, Debbie Carton, review of Cheat the Moon, p. 1766; January 1, 1999, Kay Weisman, review of Calling Me Home, p. 876; February 1, 2001, Ellen Mandel, review of Westward to Home: Joshua's Diary, p. 1053; October 1, 2002, Kay Weisman, review of Sweet By and By, p. 341; January 1, 2003, Todd Morning, review of A Perfect Place, p. 890.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 1995, Elizabeth Bush, review of On Winter's Wind, p. 92.
Horn Book, September-October, 1998, Susan P. Bloom, review of Cheat the Moon, p. 608.
Publishers Weekly, October 30, 1995, review of On Winter's Wind, p. 62; October 21, 1996, review of When Snow Lay Soft on the Mountain, p. 82; December 4, 1998, review of Calling Me Home, p. 76; November 11, 2002, review of Sweet By and By, p. 64.
School Library Journal, May, 1984, Donna S. Rodda, review of Friends Are Like That, p. 80; April, 1994, Susan Hepler, review of Nothing but Trouble, Trouble, Trouble, p. 128; January, 1997, Mollie Bynum, review of When Snow Lay Soft on the Mountain, p. 83; June, 1998, Connie Tyrrell Burns, review of Cheat the Moon, p. 146; August, 2000, Shawn Brommer, review of Our Strange New Land, p. 156; June, 2001, Kristen Oravec, review of The Starving Time: Elizabeth's Diary, Book Two, Jamestown, Virginia, 1609, p. 118; October, 2002, Barbara Auerbach, review of Sweet By and By, p. 164; November, 2002, Sally Bates Goodroe, review of A Perfect Place: Joshua's Oregon Trail Diary, Book Two, p. 124; February, 2003, Leslie Barban, review of Season of Promise: Elizabeth's Jamestown Colony Diary, Book Three, p. 112.
Voice of Youth Advocates, October, 1993, Vicki Hardesty, review of You Shouldn't Have to Say Goodbye, p. 203; December, 1993, Kathleen Beck, review of Someone to Count On, pp. 291-292.*