The First Book to Break Me

“Rabbit.” That one word is enough to send me into a tailspin of emotion. My body shakes when I hear it. The plot twist shot through my eyes and into my heart, and I was never the same.

The first time I read Sherry Garland’s Letters from the Mountain, I was too shaken to cry. The main character was wounded and damaged and the perfect picture of what my third-grade self was afraid of becoming. As the book came to a close and he learned that his whole life had been destroyed, not by a villain or catastrophe, but by a simple bunny rabbit, that his father died in the worst way, that he was no better than all that he hated, the reality of the impact of the mundane set in. The book was terrible and wonderful. It cut through my soul and seared my mind.

I never read it again.

I tried to get a copy a few times, but I was always outbid.

Eventually, the memory faded, turned into wisps of images too hard to place.

Still, the thought of that book fills me. There is some notion of it that walks beside me in my darkest moments.

I am now resigned to never reading the book again. For all I know, the story is nothing like I remember. Maybe there are moments that don’t shine well through 2019 eyes. Maybe the characters don’t grow in the way that I think they do.

The book I read is not the story inside my heart, but the book I read gave me the story I hold now.

As I work on this ridiculous challenge, trying to write six books in a year, I have to stop myself every now and again and remind myself that I do not want to write books that people will be able to recite in their entirety. I want to write books that hold a million stories for a million different people. Whatever those stories are, I hope that they walk beside their readers in the darkest of moments and whisper “you are not alone.”
I hope for the day someone remembers my book wrong and all that they can remember is “rabbit.”

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