I’m doing a pretty good job of keeping up with my reading goals. In addition to reading during allotted class time, I’m also reading every night for at least 30 minutes, and I finished two AP-list books, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. I struggled with both books: Hurston used a precise dialect that I had trouble navigating, and Hemingway’s lack of commas drove me crazy. I also completed Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, a historical fiction novel set in 1950s New Orleans. Josie is probably one of the most confident characters I’ve met in a while, and I really enjoy Sepetys’ knack for fitting in the right line at the right time. (For more about the power of the right line, see Mrs. Friend’s blog about her encounter with Sepetys at the NTTBF in April–3rd paragraph from the bottom.)
On Josie’s 18th birthday, her friend Cokie gives her a very thoughtful gift. And with that gift comes this beautiful advice.
“Sometimes we set off down a road thinkin’ we’re goin’ one place and we end up another. But that’s okay. The important thing is to start” (163).
Josie’s dream is to get out of New Orleans. When she meets Charlotte, a Smith College student, she sets her sights on Massachusetts as her next destination. She wants so badly to leave the over-familiarity and oppressiveness of the place where she grew up, but she’s frozen by her own fear and perceived obstacles. Cokie’s encouraging words serve as a reminder that our plans don’t always go how we’d like, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t attempt them.
When I left my hometown of Coffeyville, KS, to attend college in Pittsburg, KS, I swore I would never return. As a mid-year graduate, however, my choice was made for me. I begrudgingly packed my things and moved back to the small town (not that Pittsburg was all that much larger, but it wasn’t Coffeyville!). I may not have known everyone in the town anymore, but it sure seemed like they knew me–probably because they knew one of my many relatives. I felt like a failure, but the luxury of hindsight reveals that what I saw as three steps backward was not nearly as bad as if I had never left to begin with. And having left once before made it easy when it was time to relocate to Dallas.
We don’t always know where the road we’re on will lead, but we have to take that first step if we want to find out.
PS: The whole line-discovery thing reminds me of “The Secret” by Denise Levertov. Authors don’t always intend for a line to carry as much weight as readers usually find in it.