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.
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.
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.
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.