Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The funny thing about the sky is that it can both crush and free.


Ok. So last year I read a book I never would have read (the cover is icky. I'm sorry, but I AM that shallow.) had I not been involved with Cybils, called A Brief Chapter In My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt. I can't recommend it highly enough. Now it's November's Readergirlz pick. It's been a year, and I'm still not over the book (see, I can totally prevail over my judgemental shortcomings). I even interviewed the author back in June. Now, I find myself in the next round of interviews, and accidentally finding a book that pairs so perfectly with Brief Chapter that I can barely stand it.

Somehow, I missed this book last year. I'd never seen nor heard of The Weight of the Sky until, charmed by Song of the Sparrow, I asked to interview the author, Lisa Ann Sandell. Suddenly, I found Sparrow wasn't her first novel - and more research and reading was needed. And that's when I read The Weight of the Sky.

Beyond the idea that these two books link together through their shared theme of contemporary girls struggling to find themselves and their Jewish heritage, there isn't a whole lot that really puts them together. But I can see, just a little, how Simone from Brief Chapter, or a girl a little like her, could end up making the choices that Sarah makes in The Weight of the Sky makes. There's something common in their perspectives, however it is their introduction, opportunity, and experience that is very different. For whatever reason, under whatever duress both of these girls look to their heritage to inform their future; to inform their selves.

Sarah wants to escape the weight of everyday world, start fresh and figure out who she is when the people who don't really see her anymore aren't looking on. The opportunity presents itself for her, the typical, slightly geeky, American girl, to work on a kibbutz in Israel, and she sees this a the perfect chance to do just that:

So I will work and explore
and be by myself
and eventually the trappings
will fall away.
I will emerge,
naked and shorn of
all the noise of
everyone else's voices.
Then everyone will see.
Me (p 43).

The story is lyrical and touching and true. And I can't really say anything more than those three things. I've been paging through my book, revisiting passages that I marked, thinking that I could just pull out a few particularly good ones to prove to you how moving and wonderful this book is...but there are too many. At the same time, I'm going to do it anyway, because I can't bear the thought that you won't see what I see. That you might miss the strength in Sarah. So...hopefully, I won't get sued.

And I wonder how I got through
Hebrew school
life
never realizing that in this land there were
old people and
normal people
who are just trying to walk
around
and go to their jobs,
that there is life here and
it isn't only what some people
want us to believe.
That it's about
God
or bombs
and violence
Jews and Arabs.
Right and Wrong.
Them and Us.
Black and White (p 80).

Can you live in this country and
not
care,
not feel the tension of these
remarkable differences
or remarkably not so different
differences
weighing
weighing? (p106)

Difference isn't accepted,
it certainly isn't appreciated
where I'm from.
There's just, more
or less,
fear (p 121).

But my toes touch the shells
that coat the seafloor,
and I find my footing
on the empty houses
of creatures who have
long since vacated the premises.
I think with envy
of these creatures,
who so easily shed their homes for new ones.
Family, friends, religion,
none of these
questions,
weights
to burden them.
Not like me (p 248).

Tomorrow, I'm happy to post an interview with the truly lovely Lisa Ann Sandell. Check back then and read that; I'm especially proud of question number seven. It's just a little bit evil. ;)

Also, If you are a fan of Brief Chapter OR Weight, read the other one. And go to the Readergirlz chat with Reinhardt on November 15th. I'll start lobbying for Lisa to be one of the chat authors ASAP. Good thing I kinda have that power. Er, at least of suggestion. ;) God, I love being an involved blogger.

Who else is besotted with Stina Persson's cover for The Weight of the Sky. I adore the watercolor and the use of negative space.

2 comments:

Little Willow said...

Good luck tomorrow
Good luck tomorrow
Good luck tomorrow
And ev'ry day after that

:)

Julia Denos said...

that cover is gorgeous...yeas washes on white space, well said jackie!