How Books Tell the Story of Me
I have a horrible memory. Just ask my best friend, Mary, who has known me since we were twelve. She takes great pleasure in reminding me of all the things I’ve forgotten:
MARY: Remember that time you wore the same dress to school as Mrs. Garcia, the Spanish teacher?
MARY: Remember when you cried in math over a bad grade?
MARY: Remember when you dated that guy who rode a motorcycle and had half a finger missing?
Unfortunately, Mary tends to remind me of the things I forgot on purpose. But I do have another source I can turn to: Books. I may have lost many of my memories, but I was smart enough to keep my books. Not so long ago, I found a stack of them that must have spent many hours in my hands—they looked it—frayed and worn with the pages falling out at the threat of a touch. And as I looked at the books, a crazy thing happened. They painted a picture—not of the stories they told—but the story of me.
What do these books have in common?
Adopted Jane—about an orphaned girl who has the choice of being adopted by two families.
Ready-made Family—about an orphan who finds a new home
Watership Down—a group of rabbits, orphaned from their warren, who must rely on each other to find and make a new home.
No, I wasn’t an orphan, but my parents divorced when I was two, and adjusting to stepparents and all the rest must have been hard for me—harder than I realized because these were the books that I chose; the books that carried me through.
And then came Judy Blume, and especially, Are you There God, It’s Me Margaret and Forever. I was struggling to understand about myself, my place in the world, what it meant to grow up, to be in love—all of it. Even with three older sisters and two moms, I turned to books as a way to understand.
As I grew older, I discovered The Bronte Sisters and Jane Austen. I read and re-read Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre among others. Yes, I am a romantic. And I’m drawn to strong women characters who survive set-backs and find their happiness in love and life. I think I needed that—to see the struggle and see the success. To feed the need for those things in my own life.
All in all, it’s pretty amazing what you can learn in books—even about yourself. J
What about the books you loved? What do they tell about you?
Amy Fellner Dominy is the author of OyMG, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for teens, 2012. Her second book, Audition & Subtraction, is a middle grade coming this September from Walker Books. Amy is also a playwright with an MFA from Arizona State University. Follow Amy on twitter @amydominy or visit her at www.amydominy.com where she wishes she blogged as often and as well as the Nerdy Book Club.