A few years ago I started putting all the books I read through a simple test before I read them. Beyond the skill of the writer or the interest in the plot or subject matter the question was Will this book make me cry? I'd just come off a string of books that were lump-in-your-throat-for-two-hours-every-night tear jerkers. Last time one of my kids complained about us sharing a rich dessert I invoked the scene of Frank McCourt's family of seven sharing one boiled egg for Christmas dinner. To say Angela's Ashes was a downer is like saying Lindsey Lohan might partake of mind-altering substances on rare occasions. The Uber Understatement.Then there was A Map of the World. Somehow I went into that book not having a clue what was going to happen. I'm guessing they keep that information closely guarded because why would anyone knowingly put themselves through that kind of torture? Because it was TORTURE! And yet, I kept reading.

Damn those authors who can make me miserable and yet compel me to continue the misery. And could I forget Midwives? No. I couldn't. Not ever.

And so began the simple test all books must pass before I read them. There have been a few exceptions. The Lovely Bones for one. I DID try to get out of that one by desperately calling
CCC on her cell phone to tell her I couldn't keep reading because I couldn't make out the words through the tears and my family was becoming concerned by my bawling on the sofa. She didn't answer.

Last month I started reading Old Yeller with a group of kids from Big E's class. Her teacher has been kind enough to set us up with discussion questions and all kinds of ideas for enriching the book. Now that we've been reading for a few weeks we're getting close to the end. And I know what's coming. The kids have learned what rabies is but I don't think they've picked up on the blatant foreshadowing that's been put before us. The author tells us on the first page that he ends up shooting Old Yeller but they've forgotten. They're just innocently reading along enjoying the adventures of Travis, Little Arliss and that rascal, Old Yeller.

Not only will I be a wreck when we get to the horrible, inevitable ending, but I will have five nine year olds who've come to love that thievin' whelp of a dog. I'll be sure to bring tissues next week. I'm going to need them.

1 comment:

KT said...

Oh, CRUD!! That's a tough one. Yup. I got nothin' but CRUD.