Over the past few weeks, I listened to Ruth Ware’s “The Turn of the Key”. For the most part, it was a passive experience. The story is told in a series of memories, writings, and flashbacks. Nothing is urgent. Nothing is actively happening. But the cover was so beautiful and its allusions to “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James kept me plugging away at it, determined to finish it.
The five minute drive between work and home. The seven minutes it took to fix my hair. Minute by minute the chapters fell away.
Then, last Saturday happened. It was a drizzly morning. My hubby was at work. My boys were at football. My in-laws had just left. All of this to say, the television was off and my audio book was on while I cleaned the kitchen.
Twenty-three minutes left in the book.
I sat down, riveted by the lilt of Imogen Church’s accent and the unfolding plot that actually surprised me. Until this point, I thought I had figured out what really happened. Turns out, I didn’t.
Despite twelve hours of passive listening, I was suddenly crushed that the book was over. In fact, I looked at my watch.
An hour left before anyone was expected home.
I drove to the library to grab our copy of “The Turn of the Screw”. Short, but nothing sweet about it. A true ghost story so open ended that even today’s scholars haven’t figured out exactly what happened. Now that’s a book with deep hooks.
On Sunday (another drizzly day), I picked up our book club book and read that from start to finish. “Beloved” by Toni Morrison. After reading the last page, I flipped back to the first and began reading it again.
Another book with hooks. But a different kind. The kind that haunted my dreams. The kind that made me pull out my computer and research. The kind that hurts the soul and makes you think–really think–about who you are and where you come from. Not in the sense of place, but in the sense of emotional space.
Trauma changes us. It touches everything and everyone we touch. It creates a tint through which all other experiences must be seen. It gets its hooks inside of us and no matter how tenderly we remove them, or how much healing we do, the ghost-like memory will always be there. Sometimes pushed to the edges, sometimes right in front of us, but always, ever, it is there.
And that, my reader friends, is what makes a great book great. It, too, gets its hooks inside of us and makes us think. Its message touches everything and everyone we touch. It changes the tint through which we view all future experiences.
A great book with hooks is one with the power to unite, to heal, to understand, to hope, to accept, and to embrace. It pushes the ghosts into the light.
happy reading~ jody