This was the Sisters Book Club selection for November. To join in on this discussion or the one for our December book, Plato at the Googleplex by Rebecca Goldstein, visit the Sisters Book Club Goodreads group.
Twice while reading this book, I found myself sobbing. That’s the first sign I have that it’s a good book. I’m not often moved to tears by things I read.
The cadence of the words of this book stick with me when I’ve closed the covers, and that’s another way I know it’s good.
But “good” isn’t quite right. It’s beautiful and horrible. It leaves me feeling both shattered and reassembled.
It’s a story about the stories we tell ourselves and how those stories have to change as the world changes. The stories shift and are remade as we live them; elements repeat themselves without our invitation, their meaning altered with time and circumstance. In the end all we have to give any shape at all to the muddle of events of the world is the stories we tell. We cling to them and tell them over and over again until they become prayers we can tell one another in the dark.
Somehow, Ausubel manages to tell a story that is both hopeless and hopeful, both an ending and a beginning (and another ending and a beginning and again and again after that). She skips nimbly over the facts to the emotions underneath and demonstrates that fiction can do a better job than facts of revealing truth.
This book leaves me wanting to hug my children close and shield them from the world, even as I know that my job is to send them off to discover their own beautiful, horrible stories (which I hope will be much more beautiful than horrible).