Today Was A Fairy Tale

The Last SummerOnce upon a time there was a girl who loved to read…

…and that girl is me! My friend Susie Finkbeiner, author of Paint Chips and My Mother’s Chamomile (two books you simply must read) says that reading for writers is like flexing your muscles.

I heartily agree. For writers and non-writers alike, reading is rarely a waste of time.

While March is typically a time in which our nation loses its self in the world of college basketball, it is also National Reading Month. In honor of this celebration I thought it would be fun to share with you a passage that I love.

Taken from the pages of The Last Summer (of You & Me) by Ann Brashares, this passage captured my heart several years ago.

It’s the type of passage that made me cry in the middle of the break room at work. It’s the type of passage that lingers long after finishing the book. It’s the type of passage I visit from time to time, to savor its sweetness, to remember its hold on me.

This passage speaks to me of love, loyalty, and friendship. It speaks of finding what’s true in a world of many things false. It reminds me of the magic found in words and reading.

These words may or may not speak to you…but even if they don’t I hope this post will inspire you to pick up a book and seek a little magic of your own.

Enjoy!

An Excerpt from The Last Summer (of You & Me) by Ann Brashares

As a band of children, they had laid a magical world over the topology of this skinny place, spread it from ocean to bay. It had places and creatures both evil and good, and part of the enchantment was their power to change sides whenever a good game required it. Both he and Riley realized this world was fragile. It would sink unmarked into the sea if they let it. It required believing in, and fewer and fewer people did.

In outward disgust and inward fear, he and Riley had established a mostly wordless covenant. Bodies were being snatched left and right, but they had each other to remind them what was true. If they kept each other honest, they decided, it would not happen to them. They would lash themselves to the mast of prehormonal bliss and sail through the storm that way. They’d had the prestige at that time to say, “This we know is true.” And if ever anyone said it was untrue, they would know that evil was whispered in their ears and the enemy was at hand. They would not talk. They would not give in. They’d carry the poison pill and use it if they had to.

But what would happen when they came out on the other side of the storm? They hadn’t thought it through that far. They hadn’t quite considered that by trusting one part of your life, you could undermine all the others. By siding with an early version of yourself, preemptively, you would doubt all future selves the conflicted with it.

Alice had been easy to enlist at the age of ten. Alice who would…attune herself to the broader and subtler frequencies of human interaction. She hadn’t known what she’d be giving up.

The rest had been looking backward. Trying to remember what was true rather than seeking it. They were holy men divining the ancient book, judges interpreting their constitution. They harkened back to a calmer, more just time.

But time went on, as it will, and the seasons changed. What did not accord with the covenant Paul did not tell Riley and Alice. The ambitions, the petty preoccupations…the laughing girl in his history class junior year. He went ahead and lived those seasons, all the while feeling that his real life lay here, on this beach in the summer, with Riley and Alice.

What was powerful at thirteen and even seventeen should have grown quaint by twenty-four, and yet the covenant, by its nature, had durability. It still existed between them. He could feel it even now. You could go away for months or years, but it was still here, bound to what you loved, binding you to it.

Alice kept it out of loyalty, he suspected. For Riley, it wasn’t so much like a choice. And for him?

For him, what he’d had here on this island with Riley and Alice was the best and most lasting thing in his life.

Brave Prince, Lovely Princess, may you wake up this day to the fairy tale found in the love of reading. May you flex your muscles and find that few things in this world have the power to strengthen and nourish like well written words and a passage that feeds your soul.