Branchport area native pens book for young teens

Gwen Chamberlain
Laurie Gifford Adams

Could a novel about a 13-year-old girl in a fictional town named Keuka Shores become a favorite read of Malia Obama’s this summer? Author Laurie Gifford Adams hopes she’ll be able to share that news with the fans of her book.

Adams, a native of the Branchport area who graduated from Prattsburgh Central School and Keuka College, has been an English teacher in a Manchester Connecticut Middle School for 24 years.

Over all those years, she learned more and more about what kind of books her students enjoyed and how they learned, but she became frustrated over choices she and other teachers had when it came to novels that could be used for teaching in their classrooms.

The students complained about how slow they were, how easy they were or how they end sadly.

“I decided to write a novel that would be a good read and a great teaching tool. having taught for so many years, I felt I had a pretty good perspective on what the middle schooler would enjoy reading, what vocabulary and other literary techniques could be used to challenge them and how to write a book that held their attention, but still left them feeling good at the end. Thus, the novel Finding Atticus was born.”

Adams, whose mother, Barbara Gifford, is the pastor at the Branchport United Methodist Church, got the real idea for the novel’s storyline during a church service in Branchport last October.

As her mother began to deliver her sermon, the idea popped into Adams’s head and she began to furiously scribble ideas on her bulletin.

“It took me a good four to five months to tell my mother I didn’t lesten to that sermon all the way through,” she says with a chuckle.

During the long car ride home that day, she wrote the first chapter in long hand.

“Once the idea popped into my head, it just flew,” she says.

The story line is built around the impact of decisions. “Impulse is a really strong thing and you need to think things through,” she explains.

When the book was finished, she printed and bound copies for her students to read as an assignment. But they couldn’t take the books home from the school, so there were times the students begged to read ahead because they were so caught up in the story.

“It was intended to get kids to read and that’s what happened. As an English teacher what more could I want to have happen?” she asks.

Because of the intense interest students showed in the story, and because other teachers wanted to use the novel as the basis for lessons in their classrooms, she paid to have the novel published professionally, and now it’s on sale at several retail outlets, including Long’s Cards and Books in Penn Yan.

Adams’s students at Gideon Welles School in Glastonbury, Conn. decided the book should be sent to Malia Obama, because she is their age and she has a dog. They each signed the book and sent it off to the White House. Adams said she received confirmation that the book had been received. Now, they’ll just be waiting to hear if Malia enjoyed the story as much as they did.

Adams will hold a book signing from 3 to 6 p.m. July 3 at Longs Cards and Books. She will also be signing copies of the book at the Branchport Library on July 7.

Laure Gifford Adams's book, Finding Atticus