Library Live: We Are the Ones Who Lived

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Tomi Adeyami

By Cole Cronk | Special to the NB Indy

I went into Tomi Adeyami’s Library Live lecture for the Newport Beach Library Foundation thinking that I would hear about what it’s like to be one of the youngest and most successful Young Adult authors of the decade.

Instead, I was reminded how much traumatic times can affect even the most successful and profound of people.

In March, when Coronavirus struck, Tomi said she felt lost. Like all of us, she was confused and scared until she found solace in a story that distracted her. She returned to the Boy Who Lived—also known as Harry Potter, the classic Young Adult series, full of magic so wondrous that even adults who read the series long ago are still drawn to it.

In fact, I reread the first couple books and re-watched all of the movies in the first couple months of the pandemic.

Diving into the Wizarding World brought up a lot of old memories for Tomi. She reflected a lot on the teachers and mentors that she had through the years that pushed her to write and read. But the people she remembers and respects the most are the librarians. “We live in a world where not every person has a solid support group or can afford therapy and medicine. But we can make libraries accessible for everyone.”

Tomi talked about the power of a librarian’s influence in a child’s life by pointing them towards stories that would get them through a tough time. There are millions of stories, and thousands of books in a library. A well-versed librarian is able to see a child’s pain and recognize what story will help them heal.

“I’m an adult, so I understand what is going on,” Tomi said. “I can comprehend it, even if I can’t accept it. But a child doesn’t understand when they can’t see their grandpa in the hospital. A child doesn’t understand when they see a man with the same color skin as them being choked to death.”

Stories can be a catalyst in helping children make sense of the world and learn from the chaos around them. “You can save a child’s heart with the right story,” she stated

After talking about the importance of libraries and their keepers, Tomi talked more about her thoughts on the pandemic. She talked about how the last year has been a huge wake-up call to her friendships. In her opinion, not talking or checking in with a “friend” in 2020 is a sign that you aren’t really friends with that person.

But I have to disagree. Rather than thinking of this traumatic time as showing us which of our friends are not our friends, I think of it as an opportunity to see which of our friends are family. For a young person, that is extremely valuable. I think many college students, including myself, can be a lot more confident about who they know will stand by them through it all, because this past year has brought it all.

Not even The Boy Who Lived made it to the end alone. He had help; a chosen family that supported each other no matter what. In fact, the miracle of Harry’s initial survival was caused by love itself. After this last year, I don’t think our world is that much different.

The next Library Live author is Jenny Offil on March 5, followed by Stuart Palley and Steven Rowley. Buy tickets now at https://nbplf.foundation/programs/library-live/.

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