A friend of mine just published her second book . Unlike her first book, I didn't wait patiently for the semester to be over before opening it. Also unlike her first book, didn't devour it in one sitting, but let it wash over me for almost a week. The thing is, I have a low tolerance level for thrillers/page turners. I might pick up a book once because I've heard it's a good story....but I can't love a book unless I can live in it.
And what brought me almost to tears about Story's End is that it's a book that can be, and will be lived in, and I know what that can mean to a reader.
I don't often talk candidly about my growing up...and it's quite enough to just say that it was lonely, excruciatingly hard, and a tremendous amount of it happened in books. Two series of books in particular....the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Emily books . I'm pretty sure that over the years I've spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours in these books. My parents, my step-mom in particular, would tell you this was wasted time. I'd argue otherwise.
I learned from Lord of the Rings that even in the worst of times,we can still do what is good and right, and that somehow, our best is enough. That the smallest and most insignificant things and people matter, and that laughter is worth much.That "Courage is found in unlikely places." And I learned who I wanted to be...I keep a passage marked in The Two Towers where Sam Gamgee expresses his fondness for Lady Galadriel:
"The Lady of Lorien! Galadriel!" cried Sam. You should see her, indeed you should, sir. I am only a hobbit, and gardening's my job at home, sir, if you understand me, and I'm not much good at poetry. . . .But I wish I culd make a song about her. Beautiful she is, sir! Lovely! Sometimes like a great tree in flower, sometimes like a white daffadowndilly, small and slender like. Hard as di'monds, soft as moonlight. Warm as sunlight, cold as frost in the stars. Proud and far off as a snow-mountain, and as merry as any lass I ever saw with daisies in her hair in springtime. But that's a lot o'nonsense, and all wide of my mark."
At the same time, Emily taught me about who I was. Alongside Emily, I wrestled with words and thoughts and sentences, working endless things out in my journal that were unsafe for human ears or eyes. Unlike Emily, I was deeply suicidal throughout most of my teens and early 20s, and was terrified of someone coming across my scrawls after my untimely death, so every couple of years my thoughts and scribblings were dumped unceremoniously into a smelly garbage can (until, one day 2006ish, I couldn't anymore- but that's another story). Emily let me know that it was okay to miss my dead parent desperately and silently, Emily showed me it was alright to be lonely, that not everyone had to love you, and to be grateful for love and beauty wherever I found them.Emily, like me, was ambitious, and her passion directed her life. Emily was smart, and she ignored Great-Aunt Nancy's advice to "hide her brains and show her ankles."
Somehow or other, I've grown up now. Like the Hobbits, I've been to far-off places and come home. Like dear Samwise Gamgee and Cousin Jimmy and Emily, I fuss over my garden. And like Emily and her Aunts I bake cookies and make jam (though I haven't learned to knit yet). I am here, alive, safe, smart and healthy because of my books. And Marissa's books will grant other children that same safe passage to adulthood - these books will be lived in, they will wrap warmly around young readers and carry them through the hard times in their lives. Her characters will be loved and they will show people the way forward in their darkest hours. Una, Peter, Snow, Sam the Cat, Adelaide Thornhill, Indy, Effie Lou, Kai and all the rest will walk with someone through the worst parts of her life.