We do still get the odd review copy down this way at ye olde Diamond in the Window, and generally Chestnut has at it. Despite her advanced age (14!) (!!!) she is ready to get down with picture books, middle grade, romance, anything really—she is a curious and voracious reader, and generally has strong opinions, which are about as forgiving as 14-year-olds are in general (ie: NOT AT ALL).
This book showed up in our mailbox last week:
Chestnut picked it up. As she does.
She reads fast, and after a while, she said, "I don't think this is that well written." But she kept reading.
A while more: "I don't think this book is all that great." She did not put the book down.
A while more, and I looked next to me on the couch, and there was Chestnut, looking intently at the book, with tears falling. Actual tears, not just "wet eyes" or getting choked up, or—or anything. Reading and crying.
"Are you OK?"
"Yeah." Tears continued to fall. "It's just that." Painful pause. "This book isn't that well-written." Another painful pause. "And I don't think it's great, you know?" OK. "But you know, I really know how they feel, do you know what I mean? I know exactly how they feel."
And there it is: empathy, despite our great resistance. In the midst of geometry and Mandarin finals, in between reading about Donald Trump in the newspaper and trying to get things ready for summer and being late for one thing or another, a book reached through all that, through a stalwart 14-year-old's carefully fortified defenses, and reached her heart. This is amazing to me. This matters.
This book (have you guessed yet?) is sad. It is painful. It is about three boys and their feelings and their difficulties and their loves. And their teacher. Do you have a reader who might be needing to feel something? Maybe that person should read it too.