The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger has been living unread on a shelf above my pillow for over a year. There was just something I knew intuitively about this book that scared me from delving in. Pain, sadness, longing and heartbreak awaited me once I started reading, and I was a coward. I did not want to face these emotions, especially at night, which is when I want to blandly read myself to sleep, not get all worked up.
The book called out to me incessantly however and over Thanksgiving break, I gathered my resolve and started taking the book along during long car rides and to houses where it was permissible to sit and read while amongst family. It drew me in and took over my thought. I craved it when I had to set it down in order to deal with my own reality.
The book hops back and forth in time, with each chapter title mentioning the date and the ages of the two main characters, Clare and Henry. Henry is an involuntary time traveler and Clare is his wife, although much of the book is set in Clare's childhood when Henry is often an adult.
There were quite a few things that drew me to this book. First was the cover, which is mysterious to me and called out to the little girl who dwells inside. Secondly, I just knew that this would have a love affair that my heart could accept. I don't read a lot of romantic books because my natural skepticism keeps me from blindly believing that two people are drawn together just because the author decides it to be so. Another added bonus was that Henry is a Librarian at the Newberry Library and, being a Library lover and Elementary Library Tech myself, I read these parts with relish.
I don't feel like delving into the plot line in this post. Either you are drawn to it or you're not. Suffice it to say that my dread of uncomfortable emotions that was presumed when I first procured the book was to be proven correct. There is heartbreak and pain and sadness and longing. As I came to the last few chapters of the book, I intentionally set it aside to gather my emotional cloak tightly against myself for protection. Then other books and magazines covered up the book and I found myself almost desperately searching for it. I finished the book a few days ago and a friend, who saw that I was reading it on a social book site, asked me to let her know if the book was as good as the movie, which she had seen. Well, you know, I don't know if I want to see the movie. The book is ingrained in my heart and psyche and I don't quite have the neutral attitude to keep myself level if the movie changes too much I hold dear. Maybe in time I'll view it. Maybe not.
Another book I have just read and gotten incredibly and emotionally enthralled with is Orchards by Holly Thompson. My dad knows the author and gave me an autographed copy for Christmas. Last Monday I felt the need to go to the hospital because of a wretched asthma/bronchitis episode and I grabbed the book on my way out the door. I read the whole thing in one sitting. Granted, the sitting was about 4 hours long, as I waited to be seen by the doctor, then waited for my meds at the pharmacy.
Orchards is a Young Adult novel, my favorite genre, and is set in Japan, where my dad lives and I hope to bring my family next December. (Erik and I visited back in 1996 and it's high time we brought the boy over to experience this wondrous country.) Kana Goldberg, who is a half-Japanese, half-Jewish teenager who lives in the States, is sent to Japan to reflect in the presence of her ancestors the horrific suicide of a bullied friend, Ruth. This friend was one on the outskirts of the social circle Kana ran in and had the unfortunate repercussions of having a friendship with a boy who was desired by Lisa, the most popular girl in the group. The girls, led by Lisa, turn on Ruth and the outcome causes an nation-wide outcry against their uncaring generation.
I don't think I
did anything to drive you
to perfect slipknots
or learn to tie a noose . . .
drawstrings in your gym shorts
as you waited for your turn
at the softball bat?
Every page in this book is written in short sentences, with interesting punctuation which occasionally caused me to backup and re-read it for the correct inflection. I appreciated this, actually, as sometimes I read too fast and miss the nuance.
Kana goes through the usual stages of grief . . . shock, anger, denial, realization, forgiveness of self and others, and action. It's a lovely journey to spend with her.
As I stood in line for my meds, tears streaming down my face as I tried to inobtrusively wipe them away, I decided to donate this book to the new section of my school library which is geared toward the older readers. It's a beautiful reminder to be aware of what is happening all around us. We have the choice to speak against bullying or to remain a silent part of the problem. As Thompson wrote in my copy, "Treasure your friends", which I indeed do. I hope this book touches many lives. It did mine.