Been a while since I posted, this has been down to family illness, Christmas preparations and life generally getting in the way of all our carefully laid plans as usual. The illness part did come with some consolation however; I did get to read quite a bit while laid up with the flu. It’s rather sad that reading has become such a luxury; growing up I read more books than I watched television (just!) these days it seems one actually needs an excuse to be able to curl up with a good book. I had the good fortune to discover two; one from the young adult section of the library again but as a pleasant surprise I actually found a riveting read in the literature section for a change.
The first ‘Life As We Know It’ was by Susan Pfeffer. Not exactly a fun read I have to admit but so well done and so realistically written I had to get to the end. the story deals not with an end of the world scenario exactly, but how easily life could change on this world if something as simple as an asteroid slightly altering the moon’s orbit were to occur. The viewpoint is that of a fifteen year old girl with pretty much everything going for her. She lives in a smart house; her divorced parents are civil towards one another and she and her brothers enjoy a happy relationship with them and their new partners. In fact at the beginning of the book her biggest worry is whether her hero (an ice skater) will qualify for the Olympics. Then the disaster with the moon happens. Tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, altered tides and weather conditions erode civilisation piece by piece. The old adage of being one meal away from savagery was shown perfectly in a non-hysterical and chillingly believable way. What touched me most however was how life reverted to that of a much earlier century. The working day was ruled by daylight and families spent time together with values definitely becoming more realistic. The ending was perhaps a little trite but this is a book aimed at teens and anyway, how can someone predict truthfully what the outcome to such a cataclysm might be until it actually happens.
The second book was ‘The Language of Flowers’ by Vanessa Diffenbaugh; again not exactly a fun read but a story told with so much heart and soul it was impossible to put down. Victoria is a girl who has been bounced from one foster home to the next; even when she is promised adoption by the one person she opens up enough to trust it all goes dreadfully wrong and back into the system she goes. The only constant in her life has been flowers and their hidden meanings as catalogued by the Victorians. Using her knowledge she finds a job in a florists shop and reconnects with the family she almost became a part of. Along the way she learns to trust and give of herself until finally she finds, not quite her happy ending, but certainly the promising roots of one.
What I loved was the fact that this was written by someone with a deep understanding of damaged children and the long lasting effects of their trauma. I would imagine Ms Diffenbaugh is writing from experience because she beautifully illustrates how long term love and patience will eventually overcome force and cruelty. It’s rare to be touched by a book these days but this one did it; I’d recommend it to anyone with a soul.