Author drew inspiration from student

Diane Winger (l) and Alejandra Padilla

MHS teacher Ellen Angeles first met author Diane Winger at a pro-DACA rally. Winger was in the process of writing her seventh novel, No Direction Home, about a 13-year-old girl whose immigrant family is torn apart by detentions and deportations. Intrigued by the theme of the book, Angeles invited the author to meet with her ESL class of new arrivals. She also introduced Winger to Alejandra Padilla, an eighteen-year-old high school senior who was brought to the United States as an infant, and who is currently enrolled in DACA.

Students shared some of their own family stories with Winger, which she says helped her to flesh out her story’s characters and add more realism to their situations.

As the novel neared its final draft, Winger offered a copy to the teacher to share with her pupils. Angeles had the students read each chapter, then develop a series of questions about the story to enhance their English comprehension skills. Students whose primary language is English worked in conjunction with the ESL students. Using teaching tools such as Kahoots and Quizlet, the class created curriculum to utilize No Direction Home as a teaching tool for other high school classrooms.

“Working with Ellen and her students has been an eye-opening experience,” Winger says. “Reading books and articles about immigrants is one thing; actually sitting down and talking to people about their personal experiences really helped me bring my characters and situations to life.” She hopes readers will come away with more empathy and compassion about the difficult and emotional topics surrounding immigration. “I don’t have any simple answers to the complex issues of immigration, but I hope we can always remember that our laws and actions are affecting the lives of real people, not some vague population of ‘others’.”

In addition to writing fiction, Diane Winger is the co-author, along with her husband Charlie, of several guidebooks related to outdoor recreation. Settings of hiking, climbing, cross-country skiing, and traveling in Colorado play a part in each of her seven novels.

No Direction Home is currently available in paperback and as a ebook from Amazon.

About the author

Mavis Bennett

Mavis Bennett

A western Colorado resident for most of her life, Mavis Bennett is the publisher of the Montrose Monitor. She has written for newspapers and magazines more than three decades and founded the popular Monitor Magazine in 2003. This web site is the logical progression for the Monitor.