My editor is working on my newest book and made the comment, “You just can’t get away from characters who are outsiders, can you?” The book is not part of my Outsiders series.

I started thinking about the past. When I was in fourth grade, my family moved across the country because my father changed jobs. We lived in a motel for a while as my parents were having difficulty finding a house to rent in the new city. My parents didn’t want my sister and I to miss too much school so they enrolled us. We were required to attend the school that was closest to the motel where we were living. Unfortunately, that school was filled to capacity for my sister’s grade. She was sent to another school. We weren’t happy to get separated.

My school, I soon realized, was different than any I had ever attended (my third school). Approximately 90 percent of the students were Mexican. I remember a school-wide assembly to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. I didn’t even know what that was.

The school was very strict and during recess everyone was required to move around and get involved in some kind of physical activity/sport. Teachers would scold you if you were standing around. That was tough for me because I had asthma and because I didn’t know anyone. I was very shy.

I was also a bit lost in my class. They were ahead of my previous school in English and Science. I was beginning to panic. My teacher, Mrs. Child, looked and sounded like the famous chef, Julia Child. She was nice and I began to adapt. Then my family found a house to rent and I was enrolled in a different school, which meant I had to start all over again.