Pages

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The summer I became a morbid 10-year-old

This goth-y bibliophile would make a great gift. On etsy.
My friend Jen over at Custom-Built Life posted recently about rereading the Ramona books with her daughter and it sent me on a journey of nostalgia. After I stopped crying like a Gilmore Girl, I decided to share some of my favorite books from childhood.

Now, I did enjoy the old standbys, very much.

I was a huge Judy Blume fan, loved Ramona in every Pest-y respect - I even got into that whole posse of kids - Henry Huggins, Otis Spofford and so on - great world-building, Beverly Cleary! I read a lot of Nancy Drew and even better, to me, Trixie Belden, all the Babysitters' Club I could get my hands on, and eventually moved into a somewhat more shameful period of Sweet Valley High and anything with a dorky guy with feathered hair on the cover.

I dabbled in some sci-fi like Something Wicked This Way Comes and I snuck in a little Stephen King from my dad's bookshelf on occasion (The Body still resonates). I read stuff we had to read in school, too, and liked most of it, especially Vonnegut, half of which was mysteriously absent from our school library, but I digress.

Anyway. I liked to read a lot. But for whatever reason, in between reading books that most of us would agree were at least "age appropriate", I was drawn to the most depressing stuff at the library even at a young age.

For example:



A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry. Yeah, that pretty much sums up this book. It's all about a girl whose summer is spent watching her big sister die from leukemia. Don't get me wrong. There's a place for books like this, and I'm very glad this sub-genre exists (and Lois Lowry was a big part of my emotional growth for years).

But for me, this book sent me on a not-so-whimsical summertime obsession* centered on Death. Specially, Young Death. I had nothing good to say when I entered fifth grade in the fall in response to "What did you do this summer?" I was all, "Oh, me? I contemplated the fragile nature of existence and came to fully understand the idea that all of us, including you, and you, and you, are but one mutated cell away from death at any given moment. Oh, and we went to Sea World."

*See also: A Taste of Blackberries, Bridge to Terabithia...

8 comments:

MizGreenJeans said...

LOL. I love your posts. My reading habits as a youth were strongly influenced by my mother. She started me on fairy tales (I read all the Color Fairy Books, Red, Blue, Green etc.) Then I moved onto ghost stories. Then onto horror stories (the only person I know who had ready every Lovecraft book by age 12.) Then to fantasy, and science fiction. My mom even got me my first deck of Tarot cards when I was 13. So your comment about fifth grade rings very true to me...

Anonymous said...

I became obsessed with divorce as a third grader. Death of relationships, but death nonetheless. I knew what day of the month the Ladies' Home Journal would land in the mailbox and came home from school eager to snag it and surreptitiously read the "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" column. And I wondered why my pro football playing dad didn't understand me...
When I wasn't reading about divorce, I was hung up on Catholic church stuff -- The Devil's Advocate, Shoes of the Fisherman, The Nun's Story, The Agony and The Ecstasy.. By 9th grade, I'd realized I'd never be a priest, or a nun, or even a believer, and graduated to John Updike, Vonnegut, and J. D. Salinger, to be followed by a serious Herman Hesse jones. Meanwhile, today I've shifted to Lionel Shriver, Wally Lamb, and few other favorite standbys. But when I'm in the dentist office, I still can't resist picking up the Ladies' Home Journal to see if this month's marriage can be saved. Thanks for this great blog. It brings back wonderful memories!
Tom in Tucson

Leanna said...

I feel like I should say more, but really just want to say that I love this post! How old are your kids? I am already finding that I'm disappointed when my ten year old reads books that I LOVED as a kid, and they're "just okay" to her. Have you experienced that one yet?

Sarah Hunt said...

I love that this blog jogged your memory like this, Tom. Thanks for sharing. I can absolutely picture you thumbing through LHJ in the waiting room! And yes, this does provide some insight into what I can imagine was at least a little bewilderment from your pro football dad. :D

Sarah Hunt said...

Thanks! Anderson, my oldest, is just 5 so he's still pretty new to reading on his own and just getting into chapter books. I haven't even been able to persuade him to read my recommendations much. Hmph. He does love reading The Little Prince with my husband, so that's something, but I have a feeling he will be less than convinced about my selections based on his indifference to all the awesome 80s shows I have tried to foist on him!

Sarah Hunt said...

I really think that is a crucial age for reading! So many book lovers recall the books they were into as early adolescents and I really think that experience informed us as much as the people in our lives did. At the same time, it's so telling that we so often relate those books to the important people in our lives. It's a lot like music in that respect, to me, and just one more reason "the arts" (including literature and dramatic works) are so important for kids. I so hope the reading bug is contagious.

Jen said...

LOL. Two of my favorite books were Six Months to Live and The Face on the Milk Carton. Holla for depressing shit.

Sarah Hunt said...

The Face on the Milk Carton?? Oh man. Six Months to Live sounds familiar to me, too.

Post a Comment