Being asked to choose a favorite scene from a novel you’ve written is a bit like being asked to choose your favorite child—how can you do it without hurting the feelings of all the others? So much effort and love goes into each of the scenes that it feels disloyal to play favorites. And yet, if pressed, I would say that it’s the very last scene of the The Woodcarver’s Daughter that was the most satisfying to write and so is my favorite.

Throughout the course of the story, Batya faces many obstacles and challenges, from anti-Semitism and sexism in Russia, to poverty, loneliness, homesickness and yes, sexism in America. And she manages to triumph over all of these hardships, and to see her way to a better and more empowered future, both for her family and for herself.

In the last scene, she truly comes into her own and speaks up and out in a way that she hasn’t been able to do before. I don’t want to give away too many details here because of course I’m hoping readers will be inspired to pick up the book and find out for themselves what happens. But I can say that there is a cumulative effect in that last scene—Bayta at the end of the story is not at all the same girl she was at its start.

When it came time to write the final dialogue between Batya and Mr. Mittendorf, I felt like a conduit or vessel for the material, and that rather than inventing the words they exchanged, instead I was simply transcribing them. In those last moments, Batya found her voice, and though she spoke through me, it was her spirit that came through. That is the moment of grace we writers live for, and I’ll be ever grateful that Batya so generously gave it to me.