A dear friend told me about this book several years ago. I bought it, like I always do, and there it sat on my shelf for years - waiting to be read. W...moreA dear friend told me about this book several years ago. I bought it, like I always do, and there it sat on my shelf for years - waiting to be read. When asked for a book club suggestion, I gazed at my shelf and it screamed at me "pick me! pick me!" So, it won the suggestion and became the early January pick for book club.
It was beautiful. Well written, heartfelt, and just an overall good read. It was a terrific portrayal of how, despite our good intentions, some things just don't work out the way we plan. There are about 9 major characters throughout the book - all of whom are somehow interwoven with the others. It's a novel ... but written much like a memoir. The characters tell their own stories, which makes the book way more profound than had the author been a narrator. I am all about learning from books I read (yes, eve novels) so here's what I learned:
When we tell our stories to someone else, we illuminate those parts of the stories that most affect us. By telling our story, we become more aware of the power of our thought. Telling someone else helps us to see the things we need to celebrate as well as the things we need to mourn and move past.
No matter how hard we try, we can't always choose who or when we fall in love. We can work really hard to love someone with all that we are, but if we are not in love with that person, we will never be able to love them the way they love us.
When we hide our fears from other people, we really make them worse. People around us end up picking at those fears like scabs, whether they realize it or not. Unless we claim the fear as our own and work towards healing it, the scabs get opened and our fears become scars.
Well written books not only help us escape from our own lives, but also allow us to use that escape to look on our own lives from an outside perspective. This book did just that. It took me outside of my own world - to the world of 9 beautiful, wonderfully messed up people. In each character, I found a glimpse of me. I discovered something else about myself. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Well-written books become a part of us. The characters become our friends. Charles Baxter did a wonderful job at making these 9 characters a part of my life.
I dedicated this afternoon to reading by the pool and what a wonderful decision that was. It’s been a busy busy week filled with long days in preparat...more
I dedicated this afternoon to reading by the pool and what a wonderful decision that was. It’s been a busy busy week filled with long days in preparation for the Youth Service this weekend and I took a good 3 1/2 hours to just relax and enrich my mind by finishing this book. It is the most precious love story I think I have ever read. There are so many different types of love portrayed throughout the story, and it truly speaks volumes about the power of God’s love in our daily lives.
There are two intertwined stories in the book - the story of Ron Hall, who is a wealthy international art dealer, and the story of Denver Moore, who grew up as a sharecropper and finds his way to jail and then on the streets of Texas, where he eventually meets Ron and his wife Debbie. These stories made me smile, frown, giggle, and cry. Written in autobiographical form, the authors are delightfully, and sometimes brutally, honest about the events that have happened in their lives. I truly was able to experience the heartache as well as the celebration that each man went through to get to the place they are today.
You know me - I always think about what I am learning from the books I am reading. This book reminded me of the importance of reaching out to those who may be so different from us that we instantly turn the other way. Whether we find ourselves in a similar situation as Mr. Hall or as Mr. Moore, there is something to take away from their story of friendship. True friends don’t catch and release. True friends stick with you through thick and thin. Through heartbreak and celebration. True friends share their lives with you - they show you where they’ve been and they go with you to see where you’ve been. If each one of us became friends with - true friends with- someone from a different walk of life, we would begin to truly see a glimpse of the Kingdom of God.
The book ends as beautifully as it begins - and really, the last couple of sentences are the best review I could ever give of the book, so I share them here:
“But I found out everybody’s different - the same kind of different as me. We’re all just regular folks walkin down the road God done set in front of us. The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or something in between, this earth ain’t no final restin place. So in a way, we is all homeless - just workin our way toward home.” ~Denver Moore