KERR (A.K.A. MARY JAMES & VIN PACKER)
I BOOK ORDERING
E. Kerr is one of the pen names used by Marijane Meaker, born
May 27, 1927 in Auburn, NY to Ida T. and Ellis R. Meaker.
Other pen names include Ann Aldrich, Mary James, M. J. Meaker
and Vin Packer. Raised in Auburn, Kerr was sent to Stuart Hall
in 1943, a Virginia boarding school. Later, she went to
Vermont Junior College (1945), then the University of Missouri
(1946-49), where she majored in English literature. She
then moved to New York where she roomed with some college friends.
It was during this time she got her lucky break and sold her first
writing piece. After establishing her career as a writer,
under various pen names, she was motivated and encouraged by her
friend Louise Fitzhugh to embark on her career as M. E. Kerr.
She was also inspired to write young adult literature after reading
Paul Zindel's The Pigman. Her first book as M. E. Kerr,
Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack! was published in 1972.
many years of living in New York City, M. E. Kerr decided to move
to East Hampton, NY, where she presently resides and teaches writing
classes at the Ashawagh Hall Writers' Workshop. Her instructional
book, Blood on the Forehead: What I Know About Writing
(1998), arose in part from these experiences as a writing instructor.
Notably, in 1993, M. E. Kerr received a lifetime achievement award
in the form of the Margaret A. Edwards Award from the Young Adult
Library Services Association of the American Library Association.
In 1990, M. E. Kerr wrote under the pen name of Mary James the
first in a series of books geared at a slightly younger audience.
It wasn't until 1994, after her third book in the series, that
she let her readers know on the cover she was also known as M.
E. Kerr. These books, Shoebag, The Shuteyes,
Frankenlouse and Shoebag Returns, have earned
her an even bigger fan base.
M. E. Kerr, she has written numerous works of fiction for adolescents.
Her young adult works are much acclaimed for their style, honesty
and wit. In her writing, she draws from memories of her
youth, combining them with her active imagination and impressive
research skills developed from her experiences in journalism.
These memories include her antics growing up in upstate New York
- life with her parents and two brothers, her escapades with her
friends - platonic and romantic, experiences at boarding school
and being part of a sorority. She also finds inspiration in her
experiences, observations and interactions as an adult. For example,
Seaside, NY, the fictional setting for several of her books, is
actually a community based on her own in East Hampton, NY.
primary issues Kerr deals with in her books are the development
and functions of the relationships between her characters.
The relationships that arise are familial, student-teacher, peer/friend
and of course, romantic; she often writes of first loves
in general. The themes that arise in her books are serious
ones, though not without comic and entertaining aspects.
Kerr enjoys injecting humor into her writing - an element that
is not lost on her audience, younger and older. At the same
time, her fresh perspective is mingled with recurring themes and
personalities throughout her body of work, resulting in a sense
of continuity and familiarity for her readers. Tolerance, prejudices,
denial and acceptance of different kinds of people with different
backgrounds, beliefs, lifestyles and socio-economic statuses are
topics apparent in all of her books. Class issues and classism
are common underlying themes as Kerr often contrasts blue collar,
middle class and upper class teens and families as well as the
attitudes members of each class have about others.
and sexual orientation are topics touched upon and explored in
varying degrees of detail though never explicitly. Kerr has a
way with words that is neither embarrassing nor patronizing when
it comes to the subject of hormonal urges and desires. Her much-acclaimed
Deliver Us From Evie directly raises many different
areas and questions about sexual orientation. Evie's family is
half in denial that she's in a meaningful romantic relationship
with another young woman. The young man who fancies her thinks
it's just a passing stage. Her mother looks for causes and sources
to blame for Evie's preferences. For readers, themes of prejudice
and tolerance will call out to them. And for gay and lesbian teens,
situations and characters in some of Kerr's works might ring true
with their own experiences. In 2007, she was among the recipients
of the Alice B. Medal awards for outstanding writers of lesbian
sum, M. E. Kerr keeps her readers on their toes with the introduction
of thought-provoking issues and captivating characters and on
the edge of their seats with anticipation for what she's going
to come up with next.