Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Reading is about the journey

Reading, like life itself, is not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

It's one of the reasons why when I go to the library, I seldom know what I'm bringing home. For me, it's not about walking in with a list and walking out minutes later with what's on it - though it usually doesn't take very long to come out with an armful of surprises.

Some visits I focus solely on the new releases section; others I pick a letter and head to those stacks; other times I feel bad for authors whose books are on the ground-level shelves and only look there.

Because, for me, reading is not about completing a work so I can say I’ve read it. Life is too short for that. It’s about learning how the story unfolds, how the characters react, and maybe a little bit about myself along the way. It truly is about the journey.

And so despite the fact that you know from the get-go things aren’t going to end well, Elisa Albert’s “The Book of Dahlia” (ISBN 9780743291293) still gives the reader one heck of a ride.

When we meet Dahlia she is learning that she has an inoperable brain tumor. The not-terribly likable, neurotic 29-year-old lacks ambition and is content to live off her father.

But there’s something about her.

As Albert reveals more about Dahlia, we come to understand her strained relationship with her family, her feelings of uselessness, her inability to fit in anywhere. And while there's empathy for her plight, it is remarkably unsentimental.

Dahlia's journey is one I'm glad to have shared.

- Tricia Ambrose

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The key to effectively writing is having a protagonist, or hero, that is eminently likeable. Is Dahlia strong enough initially to make the reader care about her? If she isn't, then most people will give up by chapter 5. At last you're giving it a shot.

January 22, 2009 at 10:52 AM 

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