Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Judging a book by its cover

Everyone knows the old adage, don't judge a book by its cover. It is a great metaphor for the fact that things aren't always as they appear. Given that intro, I'll bet you think this is going to be a deep metaphorical post. It is not. I actually did judge a book by its cover and learned the hard way that adages are in our lexicon for a reason.

Just before everything happened with Maggie I started a book called Once We Were Brothers that was fairly gripping from the first page. It is about two older men who may or may not have known each other before World War II in Germany. One was a Jew, one was a Nazi. Fascinating.

Then Maggie got sick and died and I stopped reading it. I will eventually get back to it, but reading about Nazi's is not exactly the escape I need right now. Instead, I read nothing. I couldn't concentrate anyway.

Over the course of several days I saw a book lying on a table at the assisted living facility where my father in law lives. It was clearly there to be shared. I passed it by several times, but the picture of the woman in a bright red dress standing on the end of a pier on a lake was inviting. It looked light but not like a romance novel. Perhaps a New England summer mystery. Who knows? It said New York Times bestseller on the top. On approximately my fourth time passing it, I picked it up to read.

Oh. My. God. This was just about the most depressing book I have ever read in my life - yet I couldn't put it down. It was very well written. In fact, I realized just now as I was looking for the picture, it did NOT say New York Times Bestseller, it says the New York Times Bestselling author. Apparently Douglas Kennedy is an excellent writer, but he's done better with other novels.

 The book is entitled Leaving the World. (perhaps that should have been a clue). When I showed the book to my sister and asked what would you think this book is about? She guessed Suicide. Wow! How did I miss the obvious clues. I craved the seemingly carefree lady standing on the end of the pier. I don't think there was a lake in the whole damn book.

In the past few weeks I have been surrounded by friends and family who have supported and cared for us in our darkest time. The character in this book was completely opposite of me. (Spoilers here) I found myself fascinated by this brilliant woman who had no one in her life. The one joy in her life is her daughter who is then suddenly killed. WHAT?!?!?! This is the book I decide to read? Much of the book deals with her (inability to handle her) grief. WOW!

Of all the gin joints in all the world....

Still, everything happens for a reason - or so I keep hearing. I read this book from cover to cover in just a few days and realized I am really doing all right.

Perhaps I will read Mr Kennedy's best seller Pursuit of Happiness, but first I want to know how hard they have to pursue it.  But for now, I'm going back to the Nazis and Jews in World War II. It has to be lighter than what I just read.


  1. Perhaps it is the very lessons Maggie taught you when she showed up are the ones that will get you through now she has gone.

    The ability to see the glass as half full, to embrace each moment and see the positive, to live in each moment, to laugh at impossible situations, to find joy in the simplest things, to realise that people, and happiness, and love, are the most important things in all.

    And she brought into your life the people that will support, love and be there for you now.

    She supplied you with everything you need, so that you come armed and prepared for this next fight.

    What a gift. To give not only such lessons, and such joy, but to prepare you for when she couldn't be there. If only all of us had half her talent.

  2. My friend Carrie always says "there are no accidents." I sort of, kind of, believe her. What I'm taking away from this post, though, Sally is your inimitable and irrepresible sense of humor. I wish that I could plop right down next to you and sip bourbon and laugh.


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