Please note: My “Reading Reflections” are not reviews. They are simply my thoughts in response to certain passages.
To give you a better sense of the May giveaway books, I’m going to share my “Reading Reflections” on them.
“After all these years, you’re still naive. Why are you amazed at evil? You think like a child. You think that the good people should be smiling and jolly and the bad ones have ugly faces with thick, matted eyebrows. Life’s a lot more complicated than that. There’s evil in the best of people and in those closest to us.” (109)
Those are the visual shortcuts we’re taught. Pretty and smiling = good. Ugly or frowning = bad. But life isn’t a Disney movie. (Fortunately or unfortunately?) The world isn’t black and white; it’s all shades of gray.
One of the hardest parts of growing up, at least for me, was learning to see where the people I loved fell on that scale. Childhood is like looking at the red and blue doubles of everything — it’s all blurry but kind of fun. Then you mature, you get the special glasses, and suddenly everything’s in 3D. On the one hand, it’s all clearer, which is good. You know exactly what you’re looking at. But sometimes you wish you hadn’t seen. It’s harder to sort out your feelings about a good friend who drives drunk, or a bully whose parents abuse them.
Ironically, it’s the grayscale that I love most about fiction. The complexities of character. Maybe because they help me work out my thoughts and emotions in a safe, no-consequence mindscape. I can’t hurt or be hurt by something that isn’t real.
“There are lots of things I should have done with my life that I didn’t.”
“I don’t know. When I was your age, I used to think that I could do whatever I wanted. I used to make plans for my life and I was sure about everything. When I got older, I discovered that man controls almost nothing. Everything is fate.” (137)
“Everything’s fate and destiny.”
“That backward stuff again? You can make your destiny in this world on your own. If there were any justice in this country, someone like you would get educated at state expense. Education, medical treatment, and work are the natural rights of every citizen in the world…” (184)
I love the contradiction. Everything is fate — but you make your own destiny. I have always believed in both.
I do also dream of a world where everyone has their most basic rights and needs fulfilled. Things still wouldn’t be perfect — because people are not perfect, and some would choose to squander their opportunities. But it just kills me to look around now and see how many people don’t even have opportunities to begin with.
“That’s big talk. I dream in my own size. I want to live comfortably and have a family. A husband who loves me, children to raise, and a lovely, comfy little home instead of living on the roof. I’d like to go to a decent country, where there’s no dirt, no poverty, and no injustice.” (200)
What’s wrong with dreaming “small”? Why isn’t enough to have a job or a family and a roof over your head? When did the American dream start requiring a vacation home, a Porsche, a name that’s recognized around the world?
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those things. Heck, I want some of them. But I hate how people are often looked down upon for not wanting enough. Like if you’re not rich and famous, you’re not anything. That’s so… dumb. And not true.
We should all dream in our own size.
“I don’t want you to live in the past. Everything that happened to you is a page that’s been turned and is done with. Think of the future. We have each other now and I’ll never leave you.” (200)
No real thoughts on this one except that it’s sweet. I don’t believe the past should be forgotten, but I don’t think dwelling on it is a good idea either. Move forward, be happy. Maybe life can be that simple.