Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How to Save a Life (epigraph by Flannery O'Connor)

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr (audiobook):  And this, THIS, is why I read fiction.  Because I can read the quote about how we need to be kind to everyone because they're all fighting battles, and I can nod and feel that twinge of sympathy, of empathy and compassion like a kick in the tail to remember to try a little tenderness.  But this story, alternating between two voices transforms that gentle kick in the butt into a brutal punch in the gut.  THESE ARE THE KINDS OF BATTLES PEOPLE ARE FIGHTING.  Their anger is not about you.  Your kindness matters.  Your restraint when you could start yelling in frustration at the customer service lady matters.  Because people are dealing with things like this and worse every day, and you never know what odd behavior is a result of these terrible things you know nothing about, love, kindness, tenderness, and grace are never wasted when you give them to others as a gift.  They say the sermons we preach the most are the ones we need to hear the most.  Amen.  I need to hear this a million times a day, every time I open my mouth, every time I sit down to write.  I need to write it on my forehead and bind it on my wrist, etc.

As for the audiobook itself,well done.  Had a few minor problems with the production, but overall it was very good.  They had different readers play each of the POV characters.  This worked very well because the voices were very different and appropriate for their parts.
  • They don't let you know when a disk is over, so it just goes from the last track back to the first one, and you loose the thread of the story.
  • They didn't always make it clear whether something was thought versus said aloud, which in this story was VERY important and the lack of clarity was often very confusing.  (When I read my copy of the book some day, this will not be a problem, and I will have their voices in my mind, which will be a win.)
And this is why I read YA: because the process of thrashing your way to better understanding and better choices doesn't simply stop when you become an adult.  Maybe coming of age novels resonate with adults not just because they bring nostalgia but because they remind us it's always been this hard.

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