Sunday, February 2, 2014

32 Books: Book #16: Please don't let this Book be about that Guy Dying.

This is the book that a student had his mother ship from overseas. I'd never heard the title, never seen the movie. The cover told me nothing except maybe there would be people involved. And flowers. People and flowers. OK.

Four pages into the book and I feel like I've found Zora Neale Hurston's long-lost literary cousin who wrote about Trinidad instead of the US. I can't tell if this book was assigned in a class or passed around a family. The narrator is young and the story he tells seems to take us through his teens and college, though I think he's deliberately unclear about that.

Halfway into the book I know exactly why this student gave me this book.  This student had me for another class, one that dealt with segregation, and so he brought me this book that leads the reader right down the lines between race, friendship, love and hate that were not unique to US history.

I read this book on and off all day Saturday (at the roller rink, at Taco Bell, while waiting for towels to dry, my life is THAT exciting) but with a few chapters left I put this book down.

Oh no. Oh no. Someone's going to die, I just know it.

 Students keep giving me books where people love and die and oh please don't let this be one of those.

 There is a character in this book so smart, so juicy with wisdom and calmness and insight that he steals every scene like Gatsby. He's not the narrator, so oh no, please don't let this book be about that guy dying.

Oh. Please don't let it be about that guy's sister dying either.

I can't finish this book.  Sunday morning I try to read, but no, I can't witness another literary death, not after yesterday's book. So I put on some lipgloss and ask Zack if he wants to go to Publix. 

He looks up from his Xbox One Madden and asks me if I'm going to wear a dress.

Ok, fine, I'll wear a dress.

 He's satisfied and pulls on his new Seahawks jersey.

The grocery store was packed. I turn up one aisle. three carts come towards me. I can't tell if I'm on offense or defense, and who is on my team. I stopped to pick up grapes, someone frowns behind me.

I try to move towards the guacamole, someone's blocking me.

 I want to move to the left, a mom goes by quickly, followed by a shrieking girl pushing a "customer in training" cart right into a civilian's knee.

Forget the fruit, forget the vegetables, forget anything in the frozen aisles.

After twenty minutes I decide whatever I have in my cart is good enough, and we check out. 

As we pull out of the lock-jammed parking lot, Zack cheers WOOOO Mom! I thought you were going to give up and walk out.

I shake my head. No, this is the Superbowl.

He nods and makes the sign for touchdown and a good song comes on the radio and we make it home just fine.

Groceries unpacked I settle down to reading stories that ring with mermaid teeth, dead parrots and cock fighting.

I love this book. I hate that someone is going to die.

Three pages left and I'm pretty sure I know who will die.
I turn the page.
No, no deaths yet.

I turn the page, nope, no one dead yet.

And in the silence of the last page I see there is no blood, not visible at least.

No death, not physical.

This is a story about something worse than death -- it's about the death of love, about the death that comes when someone says I don't care, you aren't important, you don't belong in my world.

Tragic. Surprising. Haunting.

You should definitely read this book. I promise no one dies (physically).