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The long goodbye…

Maybe it’s just me (although I have a sneaking suspicion many of you can relate — even if you are loath to admit it :p), but whenever I finish reading a book that’s truly grabbed me, I have a hard time saying goodbye to the characters.

My first experience with this was in reading the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was 7 when I read Little House In the Big Woods. The TV show had been on for 8 years at that point, so it had been a fixture my entire life, and I was absolutely convinced that I was the second coming of Laura Ingalls. My mother can attest to this, since I went around in pigtails everywhere I went, wearing my pioneer dress and riding boots, and begging for a petticoat, bonnet, tin lunch pail, and handheld slate to complete the look. Needless to say, I didn’t get those things on my wish list, but I did tear through the entire series in a short span of time and when I finished reading them, I went right back into reading them all over again.

This is how I get when I fall in love with a book.

Little House

What little girl didn’t pretend to be a pioneer girl after reading this?

As an adult, I’ve found it’s no easier for me to walk away from characters I’ve grown to love during the course of going with them on a literary journey. Whether it’s Ramona the Pest, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, Catherine and Heathcliff, Harry, or Katniss and Peeta, I am an absolute wreck whenever I get to the end of a book I love, and it always takes me a long time before I’m able to delve into a new world with new people. I’ll always want to “return home” to my friends.

A few months ago, I finished The Hunger Games trilogy, in preparation for the movie’s release. I’d never thought to read the books before (dystopian stories just aren’t my thing), but I’m a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan and I knew I wanted to see the movie, so I decided to give the books a chance so I’d know what was going to happen when I walked into that movie theatre.

I had no idea I was going to fall so hard, so fast.

While it took me a little over a month to get into the first book, once I hit the halfway point, it was like being on the downhill of a roller coaster. I finished the rest of the book in two days, then went on to the other two and finished those in five days. I’m pretty sure I didn’t sleep more than a total of six, seven hours that week. Yes, I was little more than a walking zombie, but it was worth it.

Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins, my latest writing idol

Up until The Hunger Games came along, Harry and company were foremost on my brain. I must have read the Harry Potter books about a gazillion times each (give or take — really, who can count when it’s been that many times? :p), and I didn’t think any other book would grab me the way those books did. I was wrong. Katniss and her crew pulled me into a new world and — as disturbing and frightening as it was — I couldn’t help it. I didn’t want to leave.

Now I’m trying to slowly wean myself off these books so I can read something else. I’ve got a queue of books I’ve been meaning to get to for some time now, but have I cracked any of them open? Um… no. Every time I fire up my Kindle, I want to go back and hang out with Katniss and Peeta again. And when I’m not communing with them, I want to check in with Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

Harry Potter

I think I’m still mourning the end of the Harry Potter series. Excuse me while I sob like a little child.

Someday, I hope to create characters that grab people as well as these characters have grabbed me. The authors I admire the most are the ones who do a masterful job of this; I can only hope to watch and learn — and, with enough practice, follow in their footsteps.

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About writejenwrite

Silicon Valley marketer by day, novelist-in-training by night--running addict, foodie, bookworm, pop culture enthusiast, and aspiring philanthropist in between.

2 responses »

  1. Wow, me too with the Little House books. I used to check them out of the library over and over (and when I started reading them, the series wasn’t on TV yet). From time to time, my dad would bring me a book from the bookstore, and I would always ask him why he didn’t get me one of the Little House books. One of my friends had the entire series as a boxed set and I was jealous.

    My dad would always say, “Because you’ve read them already.”

    And yet, he is one of those people who will read certain books over, if his C.S. Lewis collection is anything to judge by.

    I bought myself the set as an adult and re-read them. I’ve got a set of Lloyd Alexander books which I loved in 5th grade, as well. They kind of replaced the LH books in my heart and opened me up to the world of fantasy.

    The only books I don’t have from my childhood are the Black Stallion series, but there were a ton of those.

    Reply
    • Isn’t it great to reread as an adult? I can’t wait to be able to read these to my own kids someday. So classic. As soon as I crack them open, I’m whisked back to the early 80’s and the wonder I felt in following Laura across the plains of the Midwest. I wanted to live in a dugout and ride in a wagon and milk cows. I don’t anymore, of course lol, but I’m still fascinated by that time period.

      Reply

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