I remember the first time a book really spoke to me. The main character was about my age, going through a lot of the same things I was going through at the time, and yet, she was something I was not but something I aspired to be--popular, cute, and put together. Plus she went on some amazing adventures and very nearly got herself killed a time or two.
Oh, volumes were written about this character. I wanted to be her.
Her name was Nancy Drew.
Today, books speak to me all the time, but I don't choose my books so much for the main characters anymore. I mainly choose my books based on the setting. (Is that weird?) I'll think to myself, "Gee, I'd like to go to England today" so I'll head to the library and check out a good book that's set in England.
England and the South are my favorite settings.
In nearly every book I read, something pops out at me that makes me think, "Oh yeah, I do that" or "I think that, too." I turn down the page and come back to that little moment later, when I can write it down.
Last week I read "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" for the second time. I wanted to be transported back to England, and I remember loving that book the first time around, so I picked it up again. I'm so glad I did. I loved every moment that I spent with that eclectic group of characters.
And I loved the insight of the authors. Insight into what was happening during World War II. Insight into relationships. Insight into the slower pace of life on the island of Guernsey. (I think I'd like to move there.)
One section of the book really caught my attention because the authors picked up on my own motherly instinct/quirky thing I do. First, a little background. The main character in the book is Juliet (don't you love that name?), a single journalist who's trying to figure out if she wants to be married or not. She learns about what the people of Guernsey have to go through when the Germans invade their small island, and she wants to find out more about their lives during the war so that she can write about it. In the process, she becomes attached to a motherless little girl named Kit.
As she's getting to know what happened during the war, she learns that, just as the Germans are about to descend on the island, which is situated not far from France in the English Channel, all of the children are rounded up and sent to the main part of England to live with relatives or friends.
Juliet is processing this information in light of the little girl she's fallen in love with named Kit.
"I see myself becoming bearlike around Kit. Even when I'm not actually watching her, I'm watching her. If she's in any sort of danger (which she often is, given her taste in climbing), my hackles rise--I didn't even know I had hackles before--and I run to rescue her. When her enemy, the parson's nephew, threw plums at her, I roared at him. And through some queer sort of intuition, I always know where she is, just as I know where my hands are--and if I didn't, I should be sick with worry. . . . How did the mothers of Guernsey live, not knowing where there children were? I can't imagine."That's the part that got me. That's the moment in the book, this time around, that made me say, "Yes! I get that!" Not that I'm bearlike about my kids, but I do have hackles. Definitely hackles. But the part I totally understood was where she says that through some sort of intuition, she always knows where Kit is.
I do that too. I always know, in some general way, where my girls are. I know that right now Caroline is at camp (a general sort of knowing, yes, but still, I know), Kate is riding to work with her dad, and Julia is upstairs in bed sleeping. Later in the day I will do another mental assessment of where each child is: camp, work, pool (maybe?). And at night I'll do another assessment: camp (probably by a campfire or hiking back from the dining hall), out with friends, at youth group. My mind is constantly thinking about my girls and where each one is at any given moment of the day.
I've always done this. I do it so much that it's become a habit with me. And I wonder, will I still do this when they are older and have families of their own? Will I still think so much about my children that I will mentally place them wherever I think they might be at any given moment?
I'm grateful to the authors of "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" because they helped me see the world in a new way--through the eyes of some brave survivors--but they also helped me see that the world, at least in terms of mothering, hasn't changed that much at all.
Oh, I do love books.
I need to know: if you're a mom, do you do this? Am I completely out of my mind? And if you're not a mom, how do you choose your books--setting, character, or plot? What's your favorite setting to read about?