I’m getting ready to read The Sky is Everywhere and I can’t wait. Everyone seems to love it and from what I’ve heard it’s a storyline about extremes or, rather, of balanced contradiction: love and sorrow, hope and fear, a longing to remember and to forget all told in a beautiful and poetic voice.
That description triggered something in me and immediately I was recalling a trip to the local library with my mother when I was 14. She wanted to pick up a book. While I waited for her to find it, I roamed the aisles of the fiction section. By chance I picked up The Bridges of Madison County. Not exactly a YA book but I checked it out nevertheless. I devoured it and even today I remember it as my first love affair. What I remember most is escaping so fully into the story, feeling so wholly the emotions of the characters.
So while I waited for The Sky is Everywhere to arrive, I roamed the fiction section of the library near my new home and there, right at eyelevel, it was: The Bridges of Madison County. I immediately checked it out, curious more than anything if it would be what I remembered because sometimes memories can be deceiving and, well, it’s been a while and I have many more reads under my belt from which to compare it to.
The first few pages in I wasn’t so sure but by the last I was choking back tears on the metro. The words are themselves poetry, the descriptions full of detail, the characters believable. More than anything this book reminded me why I fell in love with writing—and reading—in the first place. It’s the ability, the power, really, of words to transport us whether it’s to another world or to Iowa, whether we have a special talent or we’re a farmer’s wife. But it’s not just the ability to escape, it’s the fact that when done so well, a great read can make us feel something amazing; it can make us feel alive, hopeful, in love. It can make us cry on a dirty, loud metro train because we’re not really here in Washington, DC but at Roseman Bridge where Francesca Johnson’s ashes are spread and at last she’s at peace and together again with Robert Kincaid, perhaps not in life but forever thereafter.
So tell me, what books have changed your life, made another world come alive, or made you believe that these aren't just characters on a page but as real as anything else you know?