This time around, we kind of did a little throwback reading. We decided to read a book that we’d already read at least once. It’s nice to revisit stories that you’ve already read. And, if it’s an especially good book, you get something new out of it each time.
Sarah read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.
As much as I love reading, it’s rare that I read a book twice. There are too many good ones out there and too little time! That’s why I chose this month’s category for the 2016 Reading Challenge. I liked the idea of revisiting a book I had loved in the past. I always buy copies of my favorite books so that I have the option of re-reading them in the future. And, in 2002, I did that with The Lovely Bones.
I read the novel fourteen years ago, when I was just fourteen years old myself (oddly enough, the same age as the main character). So, I didn’t really remember much about it beyond the basic plot. For those of you who haven’t read the book or seen the movie, The Lovely Bones tells the story of Susie Salmon, a teenage girl raped and murdered by a neighbor, who then watches from her own version of Heaven as her family and friends pick up the pieces. Kind of a downer, but a moving story nonetheless.
When I first read the book, it was a year after the 9/11 attacks and I was just coming to terms with the harsh realities of the world. Still a little naive, I was only able to comprehend tragedy and violence in a worldly sense, from a distance, because I had been fortunate to not have experienced any personal loss or grief up to that point. Therefore, while I appreciated the characters and enjoyed the suspense the first time around, I don’t think I really understood the book until re-reading it now at age twenty-eight.
This book is ultimately about two powerful forces that can change the very essence of who we are if we let them: grief and faith. Susie’s family and friends needed to make peace with Susie’s death in order to continue living. It took them years of anger and avoidance to get to the acceptance part, but that’s true to the process.
In fact, the author doesn’t focus on bringing the killer to justice. **SPOILER ALERT: Even when Susie is brought back to Earth for a short time and inhabits her friend Ruth’s body, it’s not to point out where to find the safe full of her body parts. It’s to create her own sense of closure by being with the boy that had loved her and to experience what it is to willingly give yourself to another person, driving out the terrible memory of when her innocence was taken from her.
As someone who is older and wiser, and has experienced her fair share of grief by now, I find this book to be a beautiful reminder that good can come from even the most terrible, evil things. And sometimes, all it takes is a little faith in the unknown, like Susie’s family believing that while her earthly body was gone, she would always be with them in spirit.
Deborah read The Giver by Lois Lowry.
I first read this book a few months after I moved down to Florida. One of my new roommates was talking about it being one of his favorite books. I had never read it, so he immediately tossed me his copy and insisted I read it. I loved it. It’s a quick read (I think it was on a few of the lists I found when I was looking for my book to read in a day), but it packs a punch.
In case you’ve never read The Giver, it’s a story about a boy named Jonas who lives somewhere in the future. He lives in a world with no pain, no choices, and no color. (Which, if you’ve seen the movie, plays well into the cinematography.) Everyone is assigned their lifelong job at the age of 12, and Jonas receives the honor of becoming the community’s new Receiver. But, as he learns more during his training for his new position, he wonders if life is as good as it has seemed his whole life.
I like this book more and more each time I read it. It leaves the ending open too, so you the reader can decide what happens to Jonas. It also is a great discussion starter, especially in regards to how our everyday choices and decisions affect us, as well as how we should appreciate the true beauty of the world around us.
I’m struck by the world in The Giver and its similarities to other “futuristic” books I’ve read (most recently the Matched trilogy) in saying that the future societies will eliminate free thought and choices. And that they’ll be eliminated in such a way that everyone thinks it’s a good thing. Seeing the end result of these stories make me thankful that I have the freedom to choose every day, and it shows me that I shouldn’t take that freedom for granted or make my choices lightly.
What are you currently reading? Do you have a favorite book that’s worth another read? Tell us about it in the comments or tag us on social media, @238milesapart! We’d love to hear from you!