I just read two books back to back. The first was about a very, very bad man (non-fiction). The second was about a very, very good man (fiction). I suppose there is some balance there, and I think these two characters will stay with me for a long time.
I came across “A Stolen Life” by Jaycee Dugard in a thrift store for about a dollar. Everyone around my age knows about her abduction, I think. This could have been me; this could have been one of my friends. She was kidnapped one day while walking to school by a sex offender who had just been released from prison. She was held in captivity as a sex slave for 18 years, and gave birth to two girls.
This was a hard book to read. I skimmed quite a bit, to tell you the truth. In some way, I felt like I owed it to her to read about her ordeal, about the reality that she lived in for most of her life. That is one resilient little girl. A survivor.
It was a semi-random book selection for me, but soon after I finished, it came up in a class that I was interpreting. The entire course is about trauma, which is damn hard, to tell you the truth. Week after week, the students learn about the ways that humans inflict trauma on children and therapeutic approaches to help them process what has happened. There have been plenty of times that I’ve been sniffling along with the students, or feel ready to throw up. As part of the course requirements, students read a memoir of someone who experienced trauma and gave a book report to the class. Of course someone picked “A Stolen Life”!
It’s so much easier to interpret things that I understand (opposed to optical nerves, or theories of engineering formulas). I felt some kind of closure, like there was a reason I read the book; it gave me an edge up for that 20 minute book report. I knew what the “studio” looked like and what the “runs” involved. I had already been shocked and horrified while reading the book, so I could concentrate on do the best interpretation possible.
The next book, “When I Found You” by Catherine Ryan Hyde was something I borrowed on my Kindle. I wasn’t familiar with the author, but she is well published and the author of “Pay it Forward”. This book has 1,898 customer reviews with an average of 4.5 stars on amazon. Apparently, I’m not the only one who adores the author and the main character of this book! He made honorable, consistent decisions over and over again. Dependable, devoted, thoughtful, this character unconditionally loved even when it was hard. He’s a very, very good man.
I will definitely read more of Catherine Ryan Hydes books; she has 20 published books and several more that will be out later this year.