Mount Pleasant mother-daughter duo Pamela Jouan-Goldman & Julia Goldman have written and published the first book in an inspiring series, Run Like a Girl. The middle-grade sports fiction series follows Emma Jackson’s dedicated running journey from elementary school all the way to college. In the first installment, TURTLE, readers meet 10-year-old Emma who moves to Charleston and clumsily navigates the social landscape of fifth grade at a new school. When Emma shifts her energy into running for a track club, she encounters new hurdles, struggling to win friendships and races.
The series is written with the intention of inspiring young readers to run — and young runners to read. The first novel, based on the real-life experiences of the younger author, Julia, started as a pandemic project.
“The idea started as one book, a project that quickly morphed into something more for me and my daughter,” Jouan-Goldman said.
As the mother of a 12-year old who has been running since she was five, Jouan-Goldmansaid it was “easy to collect lots of stories about running, meets, coaches and team interactions from over the past seven years and roll them into TURTLE.”
But after writing TURTLE, the Goldman duo was inspired. They decided to extend the idea into a series that follows protagonist Emma’s running career as she grows up. That decision sprang from a goal of empowering young female athletes. “By the age of 14, girls traditionally drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys,” Jouan-Goldman said, citing the Women’s Sports Foundation.
TURTLE, she said, addresses the stigma of girls in sports by planting an early seed about what team running can offer: confidence, leadership, community, purpose, self-discipline and a realization that “running like a girl” is something to aspire to.
Julia, a now-published 7th-grade author, explains that “running like a girl” is a phrase she understands well.
“I have been running for a long time, and I am pretty fast, so it’s funny when a boy makes a comment like, ‘Wow, you’re fast and you’re a girl.’”
“I want to empower girls to run and know that they are capable of doing anything because they are girls, not in spite of it,” Julia said. “I also want them to know that sometimes it is not easy being a girl on the track and that they are not alone in that either.”
The young author said the main commonality between real-life Julia and fictional Emma is the friendships she’s found through running. She added that while she didn’t experience the same level of drama as her fictional counterpart, she and Emma do share a truth: “My track sisters are my best friends and always will be.”
Julia says writing with her mother was a fun experience, though the pair didn’t always agree on story or approach. “My mom did a lot of the writing, and I was happy to contribute and be the person she bounced ideas off.”
Pamela shares the sentiment, adding that writing with her daughter is an experience that she “wouldn’t trade for the world.”
“I am pretty lucky to have her as a daughter,” she said. “We both enjoy the writing process and so yes, while I did most of the actual writing, we brainstormed, created our story arc together, and I had her read through and critique each chapter. After all, it was a story told from the perspective of a 10-year old, which she was when we started writing it.”
Julia and Pamela, who also serves as the D2 Constituent School Board Chair for Mount Pleasant, hope that girls and their moms might read the series together.
“I suppose there probably isn’t a genre called mother-daughter lit but there should be,” Pamela said. “On the school board, we are in charge of expulsion cases for our district. I am a strong proponent of parents and children actually talking to each other, having real conversations about tough issues. I think half of our cases would not come to us if there was open communication in the home. Every mother was once a little girl. Our kids need to be reminded that everything they are about to go through, we went through once. I see a lot of families at track meets, a lot of moms and dads and kids who run together. If you run together, why not read together as well?”
Julia added that reading books with her mom is like a “personal book club.”
“In TURTLE, Emma and her mother are pretty close but they still have to learn to respect each other’s point of view,” Julia said. “I think it’s cool that mothers will read this book and get an idea of what their daughters might be thinking — and the other way around.”
The Run Like A Girl series’ mission of empowerment also extends into fundraising efforts: Pamela and Julia recently raised over $1,000 from book sales to offset travel costs for female athletes in the Mount Pleasant Track Club. Pamela explains that they are in the process of reaching out to more track clubs to set up similar fundraisers, with the goal of “leveling the playing field” for female runners. They have also raised money for the Girls on The Run organization.
When Julia and Pamela aren’t collaborating on the Run Like a Girl series, they might be found working on a baking project in the kitchen, at the beach with their dog Beau, or enjoying a Friday morning walk for chai and donuts at their favorite Mount Pleasant coffee spot, Brown Fox.
The next installment in the Run Like a Girl series will hopefully debut around Thanksgiving, they said. Visit Runlikeagirlbooks.com to purchase TURTLE and learn more about Pamela and Julia’s work.