Hello Bookish Friends, welcome to a new installment of ROTR community book chat! In our Book Chat series, followers and ROTR blog community members write us to share their thoughts on books that have offered personal impactful insights into their lives. We love receiving and sharing these stories with our community to inspire connection, discussion, empathy and to discover new reads. Yes, please!
Keep reading to lean more about how the Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech changed Joshua Labata's outlook on life:
In all honesty, I wasn’t exactly young when I picked up the book. However, I was young enough to shrug off a children’s book as something puerile and bygone. My mother picked Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons for me from a bargain bin at a bookstore for a handful of pesos, and it showed. Tortured spine, frayed pages, the smell of literary dust we so often romanticize: that was the book. My shelf housed it in my indifference for about a year at the least. On a late-night whim of the adolescent mundane, I forked out the worn thing and parted its fragile form.
The book swept across me in a startling lucidity. There’s a sweet and serene bliss in simple and potent prose, and this bliss washed across me as I read. I could picture Salamanca curled in the backseat of her grandparents’ car. A fluttering shaft of sunlight plays across her young and troubled face. If I reached my hand out of that car, I could feel the wind caress my palm. Seeing the colors and contours of each thing detailed by the text, I’d never experienced this kind of reading before. Perhaps it was the time I read the text that awakened this experiential sense of reading in me. It’s funny because all these years later I can still drift to what I saw then; I can experience a memory of a manifestation. As our protagonist enthusiastically recounts her life, shadows of that flashback play out from behind her. However, in the name of a more romanticized narrative, I say this reading was born truly of the text. Like the sacred tomes of some glimmering fantasy world, this book seemed to endow me with some supernatural ability, enlivening a capability I’d never experienced: to relieve instead of merely read.
However, this book isn’t so prized to me merely because it was intrinsically such a fantastical tale and auxiliary for my imagination. This book is prized to me because it pivoted my interests afterward. I read a lot of incredible books. Gaiman’s American Gods kindled an insightfulness to the mythology of our everyday lives and Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, the unapologetic behemoth that it is, buried a romance and lust for philosophy in my life and my writing. All the while, I submerged into this literary manifold, knifing through that prosaic and familiar membrane of text. I began reading well to live elsewhere.
Read all about how The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins inspired another RTOR community member by clicking Here!
There’s admittedly some storytelling symmetry that the catalyst for this newfound love in life would be the one to present the hardship of life as well. This catalyst was my mother, my first storyteller, and her cancer diagnosis arrived shortly after I finished Walk Two Moons. Every time I recall the experience after my mother’s diagnosis, I picture it starved color, achromatic. The grey tiled floor of the hospital she stayed sprawls into a miserable infinity in my mind. It smells of dried roses and sounds like a suppressed electrical hum. Soon, the typical retreats into the variegated confines of reading failed to alleviate the emotional strain. It was colorless there. So, compromises arose. Through self-pity, alcohol, and like vices, I encumbered myself to cope. As one can easily imagine, this attempt quickly fell short. What’s more symmetrical than grief’s arrival from joy than a continuance of a story by revisiting its beginning. I arrived once more to Walk Two Moons, and its second and greater boon emerged. I had been so engrossed in its prose and immediate story that my focal fell away from its very truth. Its entire story was all about coping with loss, veiled within its astounding beauty; within a world of text hid a means to live within our world. The book was preparing me for what was and had already come. Coping is cruel but it must be confrontational to live well.
So, I began to write with my friends. If I couldn’t rekindle the vibrance in what I read, I would write it. Eloise was the name of our eventual storytelling darling, an ingenue and her innocence victimized by fate. Her city floats above a resource-starved dystopia, its bronze sheen rivaling the sun that it graces so closely towards. She travels back in time through a world of supernatural cruelty, seeking to placate these terrors only to exacerbate them. It’s an incredible story rife with magic, metaphysics, and our own personal experiences of life, and that’s why we haven’t finished it all these years later. It is a story that reflects the two tenets taught by Creech’s writing: writing is for escaping our world and, more importantly, facing one’s own.
I’m still writing, that color flooding back with every attempt I take at penning a tale, and that’s more than enough. It’s because of a simple children’s book, my mother’s book-buying budget, and my imaginative friends that I compose this little story now. I write out of gratefulness, in a way. I want people to experience these wonderful worlds of my imagination to take on their own, just as I did. Instead of reading well to live elsewhere, I began to live well with writing, here.
Writer Joshua Labata can be found here:
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