Friday, October 19, 2012
I was utterly obsessed with this book when I first read it as a pre-teen, and it's largely because I felt so connected to Sidonie. Her detailed observations -- like the warmth of a lake under the summer sun or the mealiness of a plum past its prime -- felt like my observations. She hung out with her cat, I hung out with my cat. We both had naturally curly hair that we detested. We both loved to read and think. And we had the same birthday. I think I revisited that book every year not only because I loved the evocative, descriptive writing, but also because I needed to check in with an old friend. I don't re-read Two Moons in August every year anymore, but when I do pick it up, I know Sidonie's mannerisms, clever sense of humor, and hijinks as well as I know any of my friends.
In honor of Sidonie, I want to highlight her and nine other protagonists or characters who are, essentially, a part of who I am. In no particular order:
1. Sidonie Fallows, Two Moons in August. I related to Sidonie's frank commentary ("Don't believe what anybody tells you; naturally curly hair is a royal pain"), her pervasive gloom ("I feel sad and lonely, as though something has just been pulled from deep inside"), and all of her observations about the things around her.
3. Elsha, Winter of Fire by Sherryl Jordan. This was the first fantasy book I really loved. Elsha was fierce, damaged, and gifted. She was not afraid to confront authority and to push her own limits and those of the people around her. People called her "Firebrand." I wanted to be as dynamic and strong as Elsha.
4. Claudia Kishi, The Babysitters Club by Ann M. Martin. Go ahead and mark this one in the frivolous column if you must, but Claudia made an indelible impact on my young self. (And hey, I never professed to have been a literature scholar at age 10.) With her cracked-out clothing choices (see this link for inspired Halloween ideas) and artistic sensibilities, Claudia was the cool older sister I never had. Plus, she had hiding places for junk food all over her room. I would have tried that, but I was actually allowed to have junk food. (Thanks Mom and Dad!)
6. Dickon, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I used to want to grow up and marry Dickon. Perhaps this subconsciously influenced my decision to marry a kind, green-thumbed fellow with an uncommon name?
7. Frankie Addams, The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers. I associate Frankie somewhat with Sidonie, even though their regions are completely different. They're both thoughtful loners coming of age in the mid-century, and each narrator manages to infuse mundane details with a melancholy flavor. Frankie's tireless search for self within her own gangly repression of adolescence is evocative and poignant.
9. Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. I couldn't leave 'ol Tom off this list, now could I? Tom was the ideal example of pastoral mischievousness, as frustrating as he was loveable, and well on his way to being a gentleman.
10. Daniel Ross, The Castaway by Arthur Roth. I was OBSESSED with this book as a child. I must have read it at least a dozen times, never tiring of the adventure story that follows the resourceful and unflagging Daniel, stranded on a rocky island and missing his hometown love with the crooked front tooth. Daniel was my Robinson Crusoe. (A book that my grandfather frequently encouraged me to read but I never got around to doing, because, well, I was so busy reading The Castaway.)