Monday, May 30, 2011

Book Review: Where the Red Fern Grows – by Wilson Rawls

I am pretty sure I was supposed to read this book when I was in the fourth grade. At the time all I knew was that the movie was sad and would make the girls in my class cry. I had no idea who Wilson Rawls was or that he had written the book while living in my hometown. There was even a statue placed in front of our city library of Billy Colman with Old Dan and Little Ann.

Well, this weekend I was looking for a book to read over the three day break and I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this book.

It is the kind of story that you want to read to your kids. It shows the excitement and thrill of a young boy hunting with his dogs. It shows the concern and love of a mother who has to let her son go out on adventures, even though she's scared he'll get hurt or lost. It tells of the hard working father who wants a better life for his kids, but wants them to enjoy life no matter what. Billy's grandpa adds the little bits of encouragement that Billy needs to see his dreams come true. There's Billy, who shows the foolishness of a young boy, but the absolute love that young boys can possess. Then there Old Dan and Little Ann, the dogs who are more like best friends and will never, NEVER abandon each other or their boy – Billy.

The story does make you cry, and that's okay - it's worth it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Book Review: A Christmas Carol – by Charles Dickens

I have tried to read a book by Charles Dickens many times now.  I’ve never been able to get far enough into one of his novels to get hooked.  I figured – “This is ridiculous.  I can read 1400 pages of Victor Hugo, but I can’t read 300 pages of Dickens?”

So, even though it is May, and nowhere near Christmas time, I decided to Read A Christmas Carol.
The book is wonderful.  I won’t detail the story; I’m sure most of you know it very VERY well.  Up until now I only knew the Muppet’s version (which is surprisingly true to the book)
Two passages stuck out to me.

“The air filled with phantoms…every one of them wore chains like Marley’s ghost…The misery with them all was clear, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power forever.” – p. 28-29 

This is how I envision Hell.  Imagine finally understanding, finally knowing what people need.  You can see their anguish and you want to help them…but you can’t.  You have no physical body.  You can do nothing.  You can’t lend a helping hand, or dry a tear, or give them money, food, or shelter.  You can’t console them or care for them; you can’t do anything but sit and watch the suffering.  All you can do is sit and bemoan the fact that you had the chance to help when you were alive, and didn’t.  Now it’s too late.

“Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die?  It may be that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child.” – p. 74

I see the poor and the homeless every day.  I know that many of them are drunks, druggies, and thieves.  I sit listening to their stories all day and then I go home at night to my house, and my family, with my paycheck in hand.  I’m sure I’ve thought many times like Scrooge, that I am better than them.  I am a “productive member of society” I think to myself.  Luckily, for myself, and everyone else – I am not the one who decides who lives or dies.  This book reminds me that in heaven’s view, I may be more worthless and less fit to live than millions like them.

This book brings humility and perspective to a wanton and self-serving world.  I might need to read it every Christmas...and every June; just to be sure I haven’t lost my way.