One of my favorite things to do, ever, is to share books that I cherish with others who will appreciate them the way I do.
Back in the spring, I mentioned that I was reading Anne of Green Gables with a teenage girl I tutor. We're nearly finished with it now (yes, I realize that's some slow reading, but we only do a chapter or two a week, so...) and it's been a wonderful experience for both of us, I think. I love sharing the book, and showing this girl who has never read a REAL book before just why reading is such a delight. It's also been a good book to help her open up and express some of her own thoughts and feelings about her past -- she was a foster child (recently adopted) and life's been pretty tough for her, and I think Anne has been very good for her emotionally.
So today we were reading, and many times throughout this book I have been reminded of just why I love it so much -- what makes it so exceptional -- but today we read one of my favorite bits:
Anne sat down on Marilla's gingham lap, took Marilla's lined face between her hands, and looked gravely and tenderly into Marilla's eyes. "I'm not a bit changed-- not really. I'm only just pruned down and branched out. The real me--back here--is just the same. It won't make a bit of difference where I go or how much I change outwardly; at heart I shall always be your little Anne, who will love you and Matthew and dear Green Gables more and better every day of her life."
Anne laid her fresh young cheek against Marilla's faded one, and reached out a hand to pat Matthew's shoulder. Marilla would have given much just then to have possessed Anne's power of putting her feelings into words; but nature and habit had willed it otherwise, and she could only put her arms close about her girl and hold her tenderly to her heart, wishing that she need never let her go.
As I read, I felt tears stinging my eyes, and thought to myself how silly I am, I mustn't cry. Then I looked up at my little friend and saw tears streaming down her cheeks. Okay, it's not just me who was moved. :) When we finished, she looked up, eyes shining, and said, "That was an awesome chapter!"
And I realized that this is something that distinguishes a good book from a great book: the ability to make the reader feel. To make the characters so real that their feelings become ours. I wish that I had the ability to do that with words, to form characters that come to life and have an emotional impact on the reader. Is such a skill innate, or can it be learned, and if it can be learned, how?
Anyhow... we've nearly reached the end. I promised her months ago that if she could get through the entire book (because you should have seen the look on her face when I presented a book of that length, and then when she opened it and saw all the words!! the big words! huge words!), she could come over to my house and we'd watch the movie together. So it won't be long now until we do that, and that should be a fun night, watching such a great movie with someone else who really gets it. Because she does. There are certainly no complaints about it being too long or too hard now!
We're totally starting on Little House next. After getting through Anne of Green Gables, Little House should be a breeze for her! I just hope she loves them as much as I do.