Monday, April 30, 2012

Star Girl: Thanks for the Reminder!

I have been invited to participate in a Blog Carnival sponsored by the charming blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy. As the subject is The Book That Changed My Life, I immediately accepted the challenge to narrow down a very long list.  Here is a look back at one of my favorites.

I think I had forgotten. I think I had let it go too long. Had I become afraid? Had I become lazy, or busy, or trying to be selfless, or what? I don't know. I believe sometimes we neglect old friends, friends who have been by our side for years just waiting for our attention, and it is difficult to identify exactly why we have neglected them. I have spent my life reading. It is what I do. There is no greater source for learning and expanding one's mind. But for some reason, I had neglected reading for reading's sake. I had neglected fiction. I have immersed myself in the scriptures. I have immersed myself in non-fiction and don't regret a minute of it. But that needn't be all there is. How had I forgotten?

I am finally remembering the joy that comes from being so deeply within a story that one temporarily leaves behind reality. At the recommendation of my sweet daughter, I have picked up a book, not to learn (and yet I have); not to explore (and yet I have); not to expand my mind (and yet I have). I have gotten back in touch with the dream world of living life through another's eyes, through another's footsteps, through another's thoughts.

I have come to know another person who isn't even real, and yet who I wish so desperately that she was. Maybe I wish she was real because I, in some way, wish that I were more like her. I want to not be encumbered with worry and insecurity. I want to live my life freely without keeping in check every personal expression, fearing that others may not understand or approve. I want to befriend the friendless. I want to show expressions of kindness just for the sake of brightening someone's day. And if I want to wear a long dress, strum a ukelele, and sing as if nobody were listening, then maybe, just maybe, I will.

Sometimes something will come along that changes us. Often it comes in an unassuming way, unexpectedly, and with no great fanfare. Such was my introduction to Star Girl. I read this little gem by Jerry Spinelli in one afternoon, unable to put down this tender, triumphant, heartbreaking story. Something about it spoke to my soul. It called out to me in a very real, very personal way, and I became apart of it, just as it became apart of me. Star Girl is filled with beauty, with truth, with reality; it is also filled with heartache, unkindness and the best and worst parts of humanity.

Having only briefly satisified my thirst for fiction, I immediately turned to the sequel. It is entitled Love, Star Girl. It is quite different from the first one. Among the many memorable parts, the following was the most important for me, the one that woke me up, the one that slapped me upside the head:

     "Where are you going?" he said.
     "Porch. Check the snow."
     The way he said it, I stopped. I sat back down.
     He looked at me across the table. "Silly worries don't become you."

Fiction will never replace the scriptures. That's okay. I have the scriptures, too. But I don't know of anything that can replace the suspending of belief which enables one to enter into a world of the storyteller's creation, being invited to see inside someone else's thoughts and to walk in someone else's shoes. And perhaps learn things that are just as important.

Hello again, my old friend, fiction. I have missed you.

To read a little more about Star Girl's effect on me, see also this post entitled Mud Frogs: Beginning to See One Another.


Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy said...

"But I don't know of anything that can replace the suspending of belief which enables one to enter into a world of the storyteller's creation, being invited to see inside someone else thoughts and to walk in someone else's shoes. And perhaps learn things that are just as important."

I love this. I also tend to put fiction on the backburner, but I too love stories that draw me in to a completely new (and entirely plausible) reality, that leave me dying to wish I could know the characters in real life, or be them myself.

I'm glad I read this high praise of Star Girl. I'd never heard of it before but I'm definitely intrigued now.

Katie said...

Whenever I begin to get disillusioned with reading, I realize that it's because I've neglected reading fiction.

As valuable and even enjoyable as all my nonfiction reading is, there's just nothing like that feeling of getting utterly lost in another world. Nothing like it at all.

Thank you for this beautiful post. ^_^

Laura said...

The book sounds amazing. It's on my to read list :-)

deborah said...

I don't read fiction much anymore either, but there is something about sometimes going off to another world by curling up on the couch with a great fiction book.

I am fascinated now to check out Star Girl!

Susanna said...

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LeAnn said...

I feel just like you about books and the effect they can have on us. I love a good novel and lately I have had a hard time finding time to read as often as I would like. I think we learn so much from a good novel. Thanks for learning about one of your favorite books; I will hope to read it.

Adriana@ClassicalQuest said...

I also set aside fiction for a while. Now I have come back to it with a passion! The process of comparing my thoughts and feelings with the protagonist of a good story helps me to be more empathetic to others in real life.
Lovely blog :)
I look forward to getting to know you better!
-- And thanks for sharing about Star Girl.