Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Falling Apart in One Piece/The Language of Secrets

I’ve been enjoying the pleasure of staying home at night with a good book, something theatre critics don’t get to do much during the season, but which is a welcome change in this pre-Tony Awards quiet. I’m blessed with a friend, Angela, who keeps me well supplied, reading as she does practically a book a day, all recently released hard covers. She’ll call and say she’s leaving a bag of books with her doormen, then I pick them up and plunge in when I have the time. If I start one and like it OK but don’t love it, I give it to the library and try another. This way I always have that wonderful feeling of having a book I can’t wait to get back to.

From her latest bag I found one that I thought would be going straight to the library. I didn’t think I’d have any interest in a book entitled Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist’s Journey Through the Hell of Divorce. I’ve never been married, much less divorced. Angela has been happily married for three decades and never divorced, so I wondered why she chose that one. I started it, figuring I wouldn’t even get through the first chapter before passing it on, but right from page one I was hooked. Author Stacy Morrison is an involving storyteller, but what I liked even more was her insightful self-reflection as she considered her own personal growth.

“I decided the only way to rebuild was to start to understand who I really was, to love and forgive myself my failures, to move beyond all the dashed dreams to trust myself again,” she writes. “To dare to imagine who I might be on the other side of all of this. To hold my best idea of myself in my mind’s eye and walk toward her, instead of being distracted by the anger and hurt that threatened to take root in my soul and scar it forever.

“And that has been the journey of a lifetime: to decide who I am and who I’ve been and who I want to be, and to do all of that with compassion, both for myself and for my ex.”

Her book is indeed a journey, one in which she moves through pain into new life. It’s a resurrection story, and I always love those.

Another from this latest bag also involves a journey of personal discovery, but this time it’s fictional. Dianne Dixon’s compelling first novel, The Language of Secrets, drew me in immediately with its hints of a mysterious past lurking behind the consciousness of Justin, a young man in his early 30s who begins to explore why he has no memories of his parents or his childhood. Since his college days he has been telling people he was fond of his parents but not close to them. When his career brings him back to his old hometown he finds his parents have died and when he visits their graves finds one with his name on it, indicating he died when he was 3. Using alternating chapters to tell Justin’s story, as well as that of his parents, we learn the shocking traumas that Justin has suppressed for years. There’s so much sadness in this book, but, like Morrison, Dixon knows how to create healing and redemption. I hated to put this book down, and was sorry to finish it. It would make a great movie.

So, two more good books from all the great reads Angela has given me over the years -- The Help, Game Change, Sarah’s Key, Anne Tyler’s latest as soon as they come out. Tonight I’ll be starting a new one, looking forward to another journey with memorable characters. Thanks, Angela!

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