A Note From the Editor:

When I was maybe ten years old, my parents banned me from going to Barnes and Noble. It’s not that they wanted me to stop reading—they had always encouraged my love of books—but that love seemed to have turned into an addiction. I would save my allowance for as long as I could stand it, and then I would go to the store and fill my arms with novels. I would stretch my money as far as I could. Soon, the stack of books next to my bed was level with the mattress, and I was told that I could not go back until the pile shrunk. No matter how much I read, though, I was always left wanting more.

What my parents didn’t understand, though, was that I couldn’t let the pile shrink. I wanted to know everything the books could teach me, live in every journey. There was no rhyme or reason to the pile—it had everything from Harry Potter to Paradise Lost. If one book mentioned another, I would want to go find it so I could understand the first book better (thus the reason for a ten-year- old wanting to read Paradise Lost). The idea that there were books out there I hadn’t found yet was unbearable to me. Every time we would drive by the store, I would stare at it, hoping to somehow will the books to find their way to me, since I couldn’t come to them.

Years later, when I was seventeen, I got the last laugh when I started my first job at the place my parents once banned me from. Once again, thanks to the handy employee discount, the pile grew taller. This time, though, I had begun to accumulate collections of essays and poetry in addition to my beloved novels. I learned to appreciate the impact of literature on the way we live. When I transitioned to college from home, I tried to act like some of the characters I’d read about. It was a scary change, but I tried to embrace the things that made me nervous. When I was sick and scared and lying in a hospital bed, I read, and I found comfort in knowing that there were others in the world, whether real or imaginary, who had dealt with worse and survived.

Working on the Rappahannock Review is my childhood dream come true. Not only can I spend hours every day reading, it is actually required. As Editor, I have once again felt like the ten-year- old staying up late to read everything, and I have had the honor of reading some wonderful pieces. The group of works we have compiled is wide-ranging, but whether we are exploring the changing backdrop of Kelly Lenox’s “Cataloochee,” or finding the balance between discomfort and pleasure in Tara Isabel Zambrano’s “Moons of Jupiter,” these pieces reveal what it is like to learn how to fit into the world. I am truly excited to share these pieces with you, and I hope that they intensify your love of literature as much as they did mine.

Sophie Smith, Editor in Chief