Mallory Smith’s Voice Shines Through In ‘Salt In My Soul’
Posted Friday, January 25, 2019 – 6:32 pm
By Laura Coleman
When Mallory Smith died in 2017 at the age of 25, the Beverly Hills community lost an inspirational and eloquent young woman. Just over a year after Mallory’s death, following her lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis, this once vibrant member of the community is poised to carry forward a message of hope with the upcoming publication of her memoir, Salt in My Soul.
On Sunday, March 17, just a few days after the book is set to be released by Penguin Random House, Mallory’s family will celebrate its publication with a book launch at Laemmle’s Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills.
The event, which will also serve as a fundraiser for the Beverly Hills Education Foundation (BHEF), is among scores of book talks that Mallory’s mother, Diane Shader Smith, will attend as she works to have Mallory’s voice heard across the nation. Each event will also serve as a fundraiser for a unique cause.
When asked why it was important to share her daughter’s story, Shader Smith offered Mallory’s own words: “I have a strong urge to do something… something that will change people, that will have an infectious influence on the way they think and feel that will last. I want to create a piece so moving that people are in disbelief. And I want it to be like handing people a pair of glasses, giving them a way of seeing something they didn’t even realize they weren’t seeing.”
Immensely well liked, at Beverly Hills High (Class of 2010), Mallory was a straight A student, prom queen and three-sport athlete. She went on to graduate Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University, where she majored in human biology. But it was truly Mallory’s wells of kindness and indefatigable spirit which rallied the community – and it’s that inspiring spirit which her mom, who worked to package the book, wants to now share with the world.
While Shader Smith said she always knew that her daughter was writing a memoir of her experiences, she told the Courier that she had no idea just how prolific Mallory had been.
“She left 2,500 pages in her journal,” Shader Smith recalled, noting that her daughter was constantly writing–on vacation, during treatment, in the hospital, at volleyball tournaments and events when she should have been doing homework. “She never let me read it. In fact, she kept it password protected.”
Before Mallory went in for a transplant in November 2017, she gave her mother the password to unlock all she had captured in words during the final decade of her life. But it wasn’t until the morning of Mallory’s memorial that her mother finally unlocked the document in anticipation of speaking at her daughter’s memorial.
“I had no idea what she had,” Shader Smith recounted. “I was blown away and it was an unbelievable thing to read her life over 10 years. She suffered a lot, but she just buried it with her live happy and smile persona.”
Mallory had left her mother very specific instructions about shaping the book into its edited form.
“In the journal she left clear instructions for me not to let anyone else read the unedited version, so as not to hurt someone she might have railed against in a moment of anger, violate a friend’s confidence, or expose the intimate details of her love life to her father or brother,” she recalled. “She asked me to share the parts that might help others struggling with cystic fibrosis, loss, chronic illness, body image issues, depression, anxiety, or transplant.”
Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 3, the disease imposed a maturity on Mallory and forced her to ask hard questions from a young age, which in turn led her to develop remarkable character traits. She wrote her first published book at the age of 24, The Gottlieb Native Garden: A California Love Story.
In anticipation of embarking on a nationwide book tour for Salt In My Soul, Shader Smith noted how every event is tied to someone who had a personal connection to Mallory. Even the upcoming Beverly Hills event is very personal, particularly given that Nancy Laemmle was one of Shader Smith’s closest friends while the two were once students at BHHS.
As part of the event, Shader Smith will have an on-stage conversation with two-time Beverly Hills mayor Lili Bosse, who hosted the very first fundraiser for Mallory just over two decades ago. A fierce advocate for those who suffered from Cystic Fibrosis, Mallory launched the viral social media campaign Lunges4Lungs with friends and family, raising over $5 million research through the annual Mallory’s Garden event.
“Mallory never got to lead a normal life, but early on chose as her mantra, ‘Live Happy,’ words she followed until her death,” Shader Smith said.
To register to attend the upcoming Beverly Hills book launch, visit: https://saltinmysoul.eventbrite.com.