Site icon Liesl Garner

Books will Save Us

I have gotten out of the habit of writing, and my world is suffering. The walls start closing in on me when my creativity is on hiatus. When I am drawn like a moth to bad news, and the marching feet of the demise of our civilization, I sit stoop-shouldered and spineless and terrified – sucked into more and more bad news and my head is about to explode and my heart is breaking into little pieces and falling through the cracks in the pavement and I worry I may dissolve momentarily – turned to dust in an hourglass and ticking away the moments when I could have lived, could have been a part, when I could have been a contender.

Oh – I am so out of practice. I have stumbling, bumbling metaphors stepping all over themselves like the keystone cops of doom.

But I have my rays of sunshine and my hope in the midst of hopelessness. My sons were talking in the car last night about the books they are reading. My third-grader struggled to read ever since his Kindergarten teacher changed the song for the ABC’s – the song he’d been singing since he could barely talk, the song he sang as a good night song every night. He had been so read for school, so ready to learn. He couldn’t wait. And then – they changed the song and taught him to walk in a straight line and not look either way and both our hearts broke ferociously over the unfairness of the crushing institution that killed his desire to learn.

Finally – Finally he is wanting to read and he is gobbling up books and he is telling me all about the one he’s reading and there is mystery and intrigue and sitting on the edge of the seat and hair raising parts and he is alive with excitement as he tells me all about it.

My 7th grader tells me about how sometimes books start slow and he has to trudge through the first 40 pages until the story starts to get good and I want to scream. I tell him about the perfection of some of the best opening lines and how a book should grab us from the start – should have us glued to the page and held for ransom. Oh, we are going to be looking for some cliff-hangers for that boy.

Then he tells me about how he’s making a poster about the book I got him for Christmas – as part of a school project – and he’s writing the big, long title in calligraphy because it looks cool and that’s something I’ve been getting into lately, the sculpting of gorgeous letters. He’s basically doing it as a tribute to me, because he loves me, only he doesn’t say all that, I’m just reading between the lines and my heart is swelling, because these boys are the best.

And I’m coming up for air and realizing how precious this car ride was – picking them up from their after school gigs. So much happened in a short amount of time. My world got small and focused in a good way. Micro-focused onto the good and the beautiful, right here in this moment. My boys learning and sharing with me, and all of us and our love of books and oh – my 7th grader needs me to help him write a resume because he just asked the Librarian for a summer job. I could burst.

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