Who knew inspiration could come in the form of a seating chart? But that’s exactly what fueled the imagination of 15-year-old Wakefield resident Cassidy Ferry.
“My teacher made a seating chart and stuck me between two other kids,” Cassidy says, describing her seventh-grade science class at Curtis Corner Middle School in Wakefield. “I decided to write a book about it.”
Two years, two drafts, and tens of thousands of words later, her debut middle-grade novel The Girl in the Middle became a reality.
Front-of-the-classroom Minnie finds herself shoved in the back, stuffed between a grim Goth girl and the boy Minnie has a crush on. “Minnie becomes obsessed with that seating chart because it changes her whole world.”
“Minnie is a super smart, sort-of preppy eighth grader,” explains Cassidy. “She’s a sit-in-the-front-of-the-classroom sort of girl.”
Cassidy’s coming-of-age story has Minnie navigating a new friendship with the Goth girl and a budding romance with the boy. But she’s also grappling with The Wolves, a Mean Girls-type clique that has her in their sights. Then, Minnie’s life is upended by an unexpected medical diagnosis. “Minnie has to learn to accept herself for who she is,” explains Cassidy.
Now a freshman at La Salle Academy, Cassidy credits her Curtis Corner English teacher Elizabeth Ferguson with helping her shape her novel. The two worked throughout the school year editing and fine-tuning the story. “Middle schoolers have loads of ambition,” says Elizabeth. “It’s unusual for them to have the stamina and discipline to finish.
Cassidy never thought about publishing The Girl in the Middle, so it was a surprise Christmas gift from her mom that turned her words into a published work. The novel took off, even receiving a blurb from Time magazine writer Christopher Ogden, who was “delighted and impressed” with Cassidy’s self-published debut.
A talented visual artist as well as wordsmith, Cassidy’s considering a career in filmmaking or animation to combine the two. “I want to inspire the world,” she says. “I want to help the weird ones love themselves for who they are.”