Greenglass House: An Author’s Note

I suppose I should point out the use of “an” in the title. This is not the final text of the Greenglass House author’s note, by any stretch. But the ARC doesn’t have a note at all (chalk that up to Stuff That Didn’t Get Done Due to Griffin) and I’d like to note a few things for the sake of early readers of this book who might be curious about Milo and his family.

In 2011, my husband and I decided to begin the process of international adoption. It wasn’t a question of infertility, something we’ve had to explain now and then since the birth of our first child, Griffin, in 2013, when acquaintances are surprised to find we’re still in the adoption pipeline. The truth is that there were a lot of factors involved in our decision to adopt. We chose China because we had an interest in the culture and history. We began studying, both on our own and with our adoption agency as part of the home study, a required stage of the process. Among the many topics we read about and discussed were questions of identity and family and culture and heritage. If you’ve read my last book, The Broken Lands, you might be thinking now about Jin, and the speech Liao gives her atop the Brooklyn Bridge. It probably won’t surprise you to know that Jin grew from what was supposed to be a secondary character into a main character at the time that Nathan and I were beginning that process.

I began writing Greenglass House in the summer of 2012, and I was still thinking (as I imagine I often will) about adoptive families and what ours might be like. Out of those musings and the many hours of reading and study we spent to prepare for our adoption came Milo and Nora and Ben Pine. I didn’t want the story to be specifically and only about adoption, so it isn’t; just as I don’t imagine the experiences of every child who came to his or her family in this way are forever and always about adoption. However, when I chose the makeup of the family that ran the inn, it meant adoption would be part of the story. A lens—not the only one, but an important one—through which Milo views the world.

No two children are alike, so I have no way of knowing whether our Chinese son or daughter will have the same questions and secret musings that Milo does. But every kid has a birth family, so I know that family will always be part of my kid’s life in some way (even though, as in Milo’s case, the chances of our ever knowing anything about that first mother and father will be very slim). I would be very surprised if he or she didn’t wonder about them at some point. I hope he or she will not feel in any way uncomfortable about those wonderings, and will feel comfortable talking to Nathan and Griffin and I about them. But kids are kids—they’re secretive little critters. They suffer in silence when they shouldn’t have to. So let this book also be a letter to my future kid: We understand. We know. Wonder away. Include us in your wonderings when you want to. Know that we love you. Know that we know you love us, too.

The international adoption process can take a long time. Our first child was born into our family in June of 2013. Although there’s no way to be sure exactly when his little brother or sister from overseas will join the family, it’s likely Griffin will be four or five when that happens. We can’t wait to go to China together, all three of us, to bring home the newest member of our family.


  1. That’s a wonderful story. I wish nothing but happiness for you and your family.
    I bought the Boneshaker the other day and will start it soon. It looks fantastic. Also, we share an editor! My agent sold my MG novel to Lynne Polvino at Clarion!

  2. Thank you for sharing this part of your story! We are in the process of adopting a child from Haiti, and recently started reading Greenglass House. We’re really enjoying getting to know Milo, and I am thrilled to read on your latest blog post that there might be a movie in the future! I hope you get to make that trip to China soon!

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