A Contemporary Spin on a Classic – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

A Contemporary Spin on a Classic

“From Alice to Zen and Everyone In Between” by Elizabeth Atkinson Eames ’83 was only recently released (April 1) yet it has already been nominated for the 2008 New Voices Award by the Association of Booksellers for children. This third novel by Eames was inspired by two children she saw walking down the road together. “They looked like exact opposites,” she says. “I was struck at how they seemed to be best buddies. I thought to myself, ‘How did those two kids become best friends?’ so I wanted to write about a friendship like that.” “From Alice to Zen and Everyone In Between” explores that kind of friendship through Alice Bunt and Zenithal Stevie Wonder Malinowski. Alice moves from Boston to the suburbs of West Newbury and soon discovers Zen, who lives just down the street. Alice loves baseball and soccer, while Zen prefers to read fashion magazines, fill out quizzes, and sing Motown classics. On the surface, these two couldn’t be more different, but they quickly form an unlikely friendship. Eames’ novels are filled with themes of identity, self-confidence, gender stereotypes, and peer pressure. “I think middle school is a pivotal time when kids begin to blossom with their own opinions and interests,” she explains. “Unfortunately, middle school also brings the toughest social pressures to conform that you will ever face in your life. So I want to hopefully empower kids to feel OK with themselves, and really it’s about learning to march to the beat of your own drummer.” The novel, although geared toward middle school-aged children (“tweens”), has received acclaim from readers of all ages. “I’ve been really pleased with the response, and surprised,” Eames says. “It seems everyone has a story of their own, which is exactly what I hope to accomplish with my work— inspire others to share their stories, particularly between children and adults.” Eames’ love of personal histories was fostered during her time as an anthropology major at HWS. “My favorite anthropology assignments were recording life histories — I really think that’s where my love of writing took off. I tend to write character-driven stories with a lot of dialogue, definitely the result of all those cultural anthropology courses.” A minor in religious studies reinforced “the power of a story and the dignity of all human experiences and beliefs,” both of which Eames has incorporated into her own writing style. Impressed by the teachings of Professor of Religious Studies Lowell Bloss, Eames was inspired to spend a semester in Sri Lanka. She calls her focus on world studies, “a path of learning which definitely provided a spring board into my work as a writer today.” “From Alice to Zen and Everyone in Between” and Eames’ other novels can be purchased at the College Store and Jabberwocky and online at various outlets, including Barnes and Noble, Borders, Tower Books and Amazon. Married with two children, she is already working on her next book, “Freke Family Reunion.”