Marissa Christenson, Community Bookseller
I joined Barefoot Books in October of 2016. At the time, I was a stay-at-home-mom to my three sons: Atticus and Damien (twins, 4.5) and their younger brother, Everett (2.5). Atticus was born with a rare chromosomal disorder: he was missing parts of Chromosomes 2 and 16. As a result, he had complex medical and special needs, so I was unable to work outside the home. Nevertheless, we were a happy family and all of my children were thriving. Atticus was loving preschool and had learned to walk all by himself over the summer, Damien was getting pretty good at French thanks to attending a dual immersion preschool, and Everett was a gleeful bundle of energy. Our 2016 holiday season was as perfect as it could be.
Then, suddenly and unexpectedly on January 5th, 2017, just three weeks shy of his 5th birthday, my amazing Atticus went into adrenal crisis. His heart was restarted 5 times before the hospital told us they would make no more attempts. Two hours later, he died, in my arms. My world died with him.
And yet I have to keep going. I have his brothers to love, care for, raise as decent human beings. And we have a world that needs changing. I have always been passionate about inclusion--for my beloved Atticus and others with special needs, for people of color, for women, for individuals who are LGBTQ+, for people of all religions and ethnicities. I absolutely love how Barefoot Books include all types of people and families, without making a point of how very different we/they are. It was a natural fit for me in 2016, and now it is my way of making meaning of my life, and of Atticus's death.
I want to spread this message of acceptance to everyone. I believe deeply that, through empathy, we can have the community we all want. A kind, caring, and inclusive community, full of love, laughter, and learning. Where everyone belongs. Where we all understand that "every life is a story". Because of this drive, I do school, community, and in-home events. I have partnered with Utah Rare and the Utah Human Rights Education Center, and done numerous fundraisers for schools. I donate books to schools and families of those with special needs. I would love to work with you--to host an in-home event, have a table at your community event, run a book fair for your preschool, mentor you on your own Barefoot Journey, or simply help you find the books that are right for you.
Please reach out to me. Together, we can change this world.