Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: chris cleave

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

I didn’t do a “new read” post about Little Bee by Chris Cleave because I started it on Christmas Eve and was too busy that day to sit and write. There was so much to do and so much fun to be had. Let’s not talk about how many cookies there were to eat…which I did. I’m not proud of it, but let’s just say it was worth every calorie.

Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Christmas Chaos

Little Bee came to me by last year’s book windfall. I knew nothing about it when I pulled it out of one of the boxes, but the cover drew my attention and the quote from The New York Time Book Review, “Immensely readable and moving…and affecting story of human triumph,” made it sound promising.

And it was. With most modern novels it takes time before I being to enjoy the story. With this one, I immediately fell in love with the characters by the end of chapter two. And then they began to break my heart by chapter three. How did he do that? The man revealed things, bit by bit, in such a subtle way…exquisite.

From the back cover, “Once you read it, you’ll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens. The magic is in how the story unfolds.”

They were right. I looked up from the book each time I put it down thinking, you need to read this…and so do you. It’s…wow…

But how does one beseech another to read a beautifully painful story that will change you, without telling you what it’s about? I guess the same way I decided to pick it up and read it, by showing it to you and hoping you choose wisely, letting the universe bring it to you like it was brought to me.

The book changed me. I set it down when I finished it and sighed. All those people, so many story lines, so much to learn, so much depth. What would I do if I were in their shoes? The whole thing knocked me off my stride that day and the next.

Last night, my husband and I sat in front of the fireplace with a drink and talked about it. He’s not a reader of novels, so I can give it all away as much as I please. I’m ruining nothing for him. It was a beautiful conversation.

This is what a good book does. It touches you and leaves you scarred in the most amazing ways. That’s all I have to tell you about my last novel of 2021.

What are you doing this week? Did you have to go back to work? Or are you spending the week on vacation? The seven days between Christmas and New Year’s always feels like a non-week, it doesn’t seem to exist, not really. Anything can happen.

I’m excited for the new year to come, but it’s not for the typical reasons. I’ve never been much of a party person. Even when I was younger, the only time I was out on New Year’s Eve was to work. So, my anticipation doesn’t hang on the evening’s festivities. What I’m looking forward to is going through my books and tallying up what I read this year. I know…nerd.

As I have the last several years, I’ll spend New Year’s Day going through old journals, notes, and posts and writing myself a review. This year I think I’ll write a few headlines and summaries, practice writing some brilliant leads into the story that was my 2021.

Side note: When can we stop writing and saying “20-something” and go back to ’21 like we did way back in the 1900’s? I think it’s this year, right now. Stand by to welcome the birth of ’22 world! I can see the conversation thirty years from now. “Back in ’22. That’s when it all started.” Or “Let’s see…when was it that my life changed? Hmm… oh, yes! ’22! Pour me a shot of whiskey and I’ll tell you the story.”

Would you like to read more posts inspired by this book? Check out
Little Bee: Scars
Little Bee: Ordered and Antiseptic
Little Bee: No Innocent Bystanders

Little Bee: No Innocent Bystanders

“Honestly, Batman? I think I’m one of those innocent bystanders you see in the comics. I’m just a man from a crowd scene.” From Little Bee by Chris Cleaver

innocent bystanders

There are no innocent bystanders in the world, not really. Other human beings aren’t the background characters in your life. No one is an NPC.

Imagine this scene: I’m at the grocery store and a robbery is taking place. In a movie or a book (comic or otherwise), I’m not robbing the store and I’m not being robbed, so I’m a background character. I have no purpose other than to be there filling in the scene. My presence makes the story more exciting because the threat is to a larger group, the gun is swung around a crowd and everyone cowers, a person screams, a mother shields her child behind her. Unless the writer decides to pull one of those crowd members into the action, they just stand there making things visually interesting.

In reality, that isn’t the case. There is no writer. I have free will, a mind of my own, and the ability to take action in any scene I find myself in. In the grocery store robbery, I could have a gun of my own, special skills to talk the robber out of it. Maybe by some strange coincidence, I know the person robbing the store and when they see me, their heart changes in that moment. Or the robbery continues and I’m the one that throws myself in front of a child to protect them, or a take special care to get a close look at the person and I’m able to make a better report of who it was that caused the problem. The possibilities are endless.

Every day, we find ourselves in situations where we can make a difference. Every day we make the choice to act or sit by and watch. No, we can’t change the whole world. Most things are far out of our circle of influence. But we can’t sit and cry over what we can’t do. We must look for what we can. Where can I make a difference right now?

Years ago, I decided that my own family was my priority. Second in my life were the people that I see every day, friends, coworkers, and people around town. Third are the projects, people, and causes outside my immediate reach. This is how I have made choices and lived my life. It has served me well.

There are times when I feel like maybe I should do more. There are times when I wish to hell I could do more. If I only had more money, more energy, more power, I could fix this for someone. When I go back to my principles, I know that I cannot and if I try, I end up making things worse for everyone involved.

But if I’m there, I’m not an innocent bystander. If something is wrong, I say so. If someone needs help, I do my best to provide what I can. That does not include the internet and social media exchanges most times. Those inventions, while doing a world of good at increasing our awareness of the world and our circle of influence, are torturing our consciousness at the same time. A human only has so many resources and we each need to focus our efforts.

Read the previous post inspired by this book, “Little Bee: Ordered and Antiseptic”

Little Bee: Ordered and Antiseptic

“In our small garden I have made a wild place to remind me of chaos, Andrew once wrote in his column. Our modern lives are too ordered, too antiseptic.” From Little Bee by Chris Cleaver

ordered and antiseptic

I agree…and then I don’t. Our “ordered and antiseptic” ways allow humans to live a longer and less stressful life. We know when and where our food and water will come next. We know what to expect in life and can plan our lives and become more prosperous. We know where to go for help and when to work things out for ourselves. We have more power over our lives.

If each day, I woke up with no order to things, I’d spend most of my day finding food, water, and shelter, and keeping that from everyone else doing the same. Without our antiseptic ideas, we’d continue to eat lower quality dirty food and water, and our wounds would fester and kill us. That’s the old way of living. Lives were harder, shorter, and rough. Pastoral life was not pleasant.

But the whole world is not ordered and antiseptic. There are wild places near our gardens that remind us of chaos. Whole regions, countries, and continents. People there spend their lives trying to stay alive as long as they can in very rough ways. They make terrifying attempts to get to places that are more ordered and antiseptic. And many times, we throw those weeds back into the wild place.

I’ve spent my morning wondering…

What can we do to help the rest of the world find more order, become more antiseptic? How do we, who have found ourselves in the middle of a garden, help that garden spread so that the rest of the world can prosper and thrive with us?

Read the previous post inspired by this book, “Little Bee: Scars”

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