But How Does It END? Or, Middle Grade Books, Jeremy Lin, and Reality

I spent FAR too long yesterday writing a bedtime story about Jeremy Lin. I couldn't help it! As a lapsed Knicks fan and a sucker for narrative, I'm as susceptible—if not more so—to linsanity as the next person. It started out so well, too: "Once upon a time there was a sad basketball team in a strange place called New York City."

But I didn't post it. Here's the problem—and here's the problem with life, which also happens to be the problem with the books Chestnut is reading now (Oooh, a segue!): I don't know how it will end. Which means I can't make any promises that it will end well.

It used to be so simple! Chestnut would read a book, and then tension would happen. She would worry: will the pony find its way home? Will the child find its mom? Will everything be OK? And I could always say "Everything will be OK. Honey, it's a book for little kids, I promise you that they will make sure that nothing horrible happens."

Except then people get older and for the first time she read a book and said, "I'm worried she won't win the big competition!" And like an idiot I said, "Honey, of course she will…." Except she didn't. It wasn't a book for little kids anymore, it was more complicated and nuanced and…realistic.

All of which reminds me of my, er, distaste for reality.

I know, I know—life isn't always going to end well. Things will happen that are difficult. People won't always win their big competitions, they won't always find their way home, they won't always find their moms. But those truths? They are painful.

As for Jeremy Lin? While I can't necessarily say "and they all lived happily ever after," I try to remind myself that it's just a game. And that he's already done amazing things. And I can remind myself, too, that this is the reason watching sports is so gratifying: it's the one thing on television where you really don't know how it will end. And that's great. Even if it is sometimes a little painful.

4 thoughts on “But How Does It END? Or, Middle Grade Books, Jeremy Lin, and Reality

  1. Diamond, I really, really enjoy reading your posts. So thoughtful and though provoking.
    I think it all depends upon when you choose to end the story. If your Lin story ends today, it ends happily. If it ends in 30 years from now, maybe not.
    With books for little kids, I’m concerned about the beginnings. We know how the box car kids come to live with their grandfather. How about that orphaned James and his giant peach…
    Just some more food for thought.


  2. I have a lot of trouble locating 1987 in my memory. 1986 was the year I graduated high school and went to college. It felt like the triumphant end of the story. And then it was 1987 and the book kept going. Which was fine but I wasn’t ready for the *second* semester at college.
    You are allowed to “end” the Lin story here. Whatever happens next–it’s a great story of hard work allowing dreams to come true. Here’s hoping this isn’t the actual end but even if it is–he’s had a ride like no other. Lightning in a bottle! Lucky him.
    But I’m with you–life had enough unexpected outcomes from me. I needed more predictable worlds in my books.


  3. Last time I got this excited during a Knicks game it was watching Latrell Sprewell, so I bet the long term happy ending prospects are brighter for Mr. Lin. Second time through the league and the Linsanity has abated, but it was sure big fun while it lasted.


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