Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Chirp: I Stand with Cricket

This post was originally published on Rather Be Reading Blog on May 15, 2014.
It's republished as part of Friends Read Here.

I jumped back into the world of Nantucket Blue (and Red) this past week and when I finished, I was overcome with the fear that Cricket has flown under the radar as one of the more memorable young adult female main characters of the past two years. Granted, when I first met Cricket, she and I were going through similar situations but I always admired her tenacity and her loyalty รข€“ finding a way to Nantucket to support her best friend even when she wasn't wanted.
I like the way Cricket sees the world -- the one where best friends mean forever (each detailed memory engrained into who you are), where people need to stop pretending and dig themselves out of their ruts, and how making effort equates to fixing things. No other discussion needed. I see the world in a similar light, and it's difficult and mind-blowing when others can't fathom things that are so obvious to you.
Even though I don't think she was actively dismissing her feelings about everything in her life (depressed mom, distant dad, best friend a stranger), Cricket shows us that you can't avoid reality forever. Somehow, just somehow, it will suddenly stand in your way and you will just have to deal with it — whether this means confrontation or acceptance. Or maybe a little bit of both.
This is why growing up is this ongoing process. You really do have to pick your battles and even by the end of Nantucket Blue, we are not so sure where Cricket stands with anything. I don't want to spoil anything for you but the character growth in Nantucket Red is some of the best I've ever read. No longer is Cricket fixated on what she was in the first book. Now she is going with the flow, testing the waters, and again, I couldn't help but feel admiration for her and how she went about her life.
No one can tell us when to stop fighting for something. Lost love or lost friendship. Sometimes you do have to put yourself first. It's not a selfish move. It's what you have to do to survive, to make do, and maybe, just maybe, if you are patient, life will come full circle and you will be presented with a lovely gift -- a second chance.
The struggles Cricket faced in Nantucket Red hit me in my sweet spot again (seriously, is Leila Howland reading the journal I have not been writing in?) because she fears moving forward, disappointing people, making the wrong decision, and oh, the pressure to be good at everything, to be good to everyone, and figure out how all of that is going to make for a successful and happy life. How do people juggle it all? How does anyone manage to make a decision in the first place?
So Nantucket Red finds Cricket growing into her independence but still -- don't you worry -- making mistakes, and these flaws are just what make her so real to me. She fucks up more than once, she questions her decisions and what people think of her, she wants to be liked and loved, and wants to be SURE about all the things we ALL want to be sure about.
And I appreciate all of those qualities in her. I think my biggest personal LIFE takeaway in the past three years is that I'd rather own my imperfections than be someone I'm not so it's no surprise that I have a growing affection for characters in my reading life that are so nuanced. I'm not going to be a well-mannered, logical, always-has-her-shit-together person most of the time (seriously, I discovered dry cereal stuck to my pajamas this weekend) and I don't want the characters I spend time with to fit in these perfect boxes either.
This post is not only about sharing Cricket with you but also a reminder to me -- to be fearless, to be assertive, to do what I think is right even if it all turns out okay only half the time, and be a little less afraid to let go even at the most crucial of life moments.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

ICYMI: Books I Loved in 2017

Originally published on 1/1/2018.

Just a quick intro to say: I'm back? I thought shutting the door on my two other blogs would force me to use my free time to write write. It was a nice thought but the lack of consistency messed my brain and I've barely been writing for myself at all. So. I'm trying this. If I can pick up the writing without any of my own strict posting schedules and post something here at least twice a month, I'm hoping my other projects will see some growth too. Here's to that...
I'm not saying anything new when I mention how the news has been insufferable, illuminating, taxing, alarming, stressful, important, and overwhelming this year. In light of that, I was glad to see so many amazing articles about how it's okay to take a break from the news. It's especially okay to find solace in books, TV, movies, and all sorts of entertainment. I think more than ever people needed that permission. (Time and time again.) People don't want to be less woke than the next person, but good golly, it is impossible to retain ALL the news ALL the time and live your life healthily. Balance. It is all about balance.

Leaning on books when I need to find my zen is not a new practice of mine. (Another thing that is probably not a surprise to you.) But I'm glad to say that just because reading is so routine, it didn't make it any less comforting. In fact, I think I was more likely to let go of books I really wanted to love but just wasn't feeling because that escape was so imperative to calm my brain down and give me a little space to enjoy. Of course, this means narrowing down my favorites is an even bigger task this year. Last year, I couldn't even make a list of 10 and this year I made a list of 17 but I believe it's more like 20. No matter the number, I hope you find something to add to your reading list in the new year. And continue to reach for books (or whatever else you love) when you need to recalibrate.