Dear Librarians: A Letter from Simone Soltani, Author of Cross the Line

By Rachel Tran | April 30 2024 | NewsFrom the Author

Dear library community,

I’m a little teary-eyed as I write this, because libraries have played a huge role in my life. I wouldn’t be the person—or the writer—I am today without them. My debut novel, CROSS THE LINE, wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t been exposed to books of all genres, had a safe space to explore my creativity in, and experienced the kindness of librarians.

I was an undeniable Library Kid, the kind who had to be dragged out the doors at closing time with a stack of books so large I could barely see over it. In high school, I spent most of my lunch break reading in one of the library’s sunny nooks, frantically typing up a chapter of my current writing project, or chatting about new releases with our librarian. In college, the 24-hour libraries on campus were my haven during chaotic exam weeks and nights when my dorm was just a little too loud. But the biggest role libraries played in my life was strengthening the bond I had with my late mother, Mom J.

Books were “our thing.” While my other mom, Mom D, was more into other forms of media and creative endeavors—like movies and music—Mom J and I were the book lovers. We’d spend hours at the library together, browsing and whispering about what looked good and what we wanted to read next. While our tastes differed dramatically, it never stopped us from shoving a book at each other and lovingly demanding the other person read it.

I vividly remember being thirteen and having just finished the first book of the Twilight Saga, which I had checked out a few days earlier from our local library. I burst into the kitchen where Mom J was making dinner, waving the book in the air, begging her to read it and declaring that it was my new all-time favorite. Of course, brilliantly kind woman that she was, she indulged me and read it the next day. Even though I could tell she hadn’t enjoyed it, we still had a long, thoughtful discussion about why I liked it and what she found compelling about the writing. It was just one of hundreds, if not thousands, of chats we had about books.

Mom J passed away unexpectedly two years ago. I was living in London at the time, away from our home in the Washington, DC area, which meant we hadn’t had one of our book chats in a while. A few days before her passing, I finished BUNNY by Mona Awad, and knew this was one that Mom J just had to read. I needed to get her opinion on it, because I was still reeling. What a book! I almost texted to tell her to head to the library and check it out, or at least log online to our library’s website—which I’d taught her how to do a few years before—and put it on hold.

I never sent that text. And we never got to discuss that book, or any others I’ve read in the following years and thought, Mom J would have loved this. I miss everything about her, but that’s one of the things I miss the most.

A task I had to take care of in the weeks following her passing was returning all of her library loans and canceling her pending holds. And let me tell you, there were a lot of them. She would commonly read five books a week, if not more, and always had the maximum number of holds placed. She also knew the names of every librarian at our local branch. Every. Single. One. That’s how often she was there.

She read widely and across all genres, though non-fiction was her go-to. The only thing she didn’t care for? Romance. The genre I write.

Mom J never got a chance to read any of my work, minus the little stories I scribbled down as a kid. I was fiercely private about my writing in high school and college, and I was very lucky I had parents who respected my desire to keep my novels to myself. But they still supported my dreams of becoming an author, even when they didn’t know if I was any good at it.

One of the reasons I started writing CROSS THE LINE was to help pull myself out of the grief I was experiencing. I wanted to write a romance that was light-hearted, low-angst, and full of all my favorite things—like Formula 1, macarons, and traveling the world. The book is dedicated to Mom J, and in my acknowledgements, I share that while romance wasn’t her favorite genre, she would have loved this one, all because I wrote it.

If she were here to see my book be released, I imagine she’d be that lady in the romance section of our library, pointing to my book and beaming. My kid wrote that, she’d say to anyone who’d listen. You should check it out.

So here’s to Library Kids and the adults who fostered our love for books in those beautiful spaces.

Long live libraries!

All my love and respect,

Simone Soltani

Cross the Line
Her brother’s best friend sends her heart racing in this sparkling debut Formula 1 romance.