I’m not sure what I’m going to write about,” I tell my husband. “Usually, I know.”
“Do mean your blog?” asks eight year old girl with authority from the other room. “Write about the book I’m reading.”
Funny, because I had wondered about it and then forgot. My brain is in a mushy phase these days. I forgot to go to the choir practice last week despite having specifically asked to have it moved to Wednesday. I would list the other things I have forgotten except I can’t anymore. The guilty moments are kind of blobbed in together. I know they happened but they’re mercifully hazy.
My daughter is right. The first non-Geronimo Stilton/non-Magic Tree House-ish tome (aka real book) that she is reading on her own, deserves a post.
“The One and Only Ivan,” is a novel by Katherine Applegate, and a recent Newberry winner. It took me more than a month to actually open it because the picture on the front kept telling me that I would not like it. The picture lied. Once first page was peered upon, the book only shut briefly for small emergencies, and to assure the children that I still loved them. I completed it all of a Sunday afternoon and evening, as the children need fewer reminders of my affection (really only food) when I am not checking on the banging, crashing, and eerie silences coming from wherever they are.
“It’s never too late to become who you might have been,” says the George Eliot quote at the beginning of the book. (Consider rereading quote despite the dangers of doing so.)
For twenty-seven years, Ivan the gorilla has lived a resigned life as a mini circus attraction at a mall. He allows himself small joys but feels it impossible that he could ever truly be himself. In a particular moment, love pushes him to become an actor, rather than a spectator, in his own life.
As with any decent children’s book, it is as least as much a book for adults as it is for children. Along the way to a plain good story, the book comments on friendship, art and humour. But the part about it not being too late for becoming is the part that knocked me over. (I am currently sitting as a result.)
I’m wondering about the roads that I quietly hope for but assume will disappoint me. Maybe they’re not dead end roads but merely unknown roads, cresting over the knoll, around the bend, carrying on into the open country and beyond. You. Me. Who might we still become?