Sunday, May 22, 2011

What was the first book that changed you?

A Ring of Endless Light

I’ve always believed that every person has one book that will trigger his/her love of reading.  It’s that one book that shows you that reading can actually be fun!  I know I mentioned it before, but the books that started my love of reading were the Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High books. 

But, what about the books that truly moved you?  What about that book that wasn’t necessarily your “trigger” book, but it was the book that made you learn, think, and most importantly, made you feel?  It touched the very depths of your heart and soul.  Calling it your favorite book seems insignificant.  Maybe I should ask, what was the first book that changed you?

For me, it was A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle.  What a beautiful, powerful story about living and dying.  L’Engle made me think about life – and death - differently.  She tickled my imagination, allowing me to ponder life’s possibilities and what it all means. 

If you aren’t familiar with the story, the main character, Vicky Austin, and her family visit her grandfather one summer for the last time as he is dying of cancer.  Death seems all around her, hanging over her head like a deep, heavy fog.  As she watches her grandfather face his death with faith, one hand constantly clutching the wisdom of his bible, her friend/love interest Zachary seems to be chasing it.  A thrill-seeker, bordering on suicidal, he drags Vicky into his battle with his own inner demons. 

Fighting for something to believe in, but surrounded by questions and sadness, she can’t seem to escape her overwhelming confusion and despair, except when she is in the presence of her brother’s friend, Adam, and the dolphins he is studying.  She glimpses the true meaning of life through her experiences with these intelligent and enchanting creatures.

L’Engle melded life’s hardest realities with a touch of magic realism to create a story about facing, understanding, and overcoming grief by exemplifying the hope, faith, beauty and mystery that is the circle of life.  

I read this book many times as a teenager.  Being young, I was curious about death and being, at the core, optimistic, I loved that this book provided possible answers to life’s questions and a touch of magic to appeal to the dreamer in me. 

If you haven’t read it, I recommend it to you, or to your kids.  It’s simply a beautiful story.  

Now, tell me.  What book changed you?

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