By Nichole Giles
Earlier this week, I reviewed a book on my other blog. The author, Rachel Ann Nunes, is not only a wonderful, sweet person, but also an excellent author whose stories really make a person think. Her most recent release, Saving Madeline, is one of those thought provoking reads. I finished the book within about two days (despite time taken to taxi children to soccer, piano, guitar, school, etc.) but have caught myself thinking about the characters and their circumstances ever since. What would I do in a given similar situation?
Next week, I’ll be reviewing another thought provoking book Alma, by H.B. Moore. (Same blog, different post). I realize that this book is unusual, as it’s based on scripture story that’s been fictionalized, but in Moore’s books, the characters become so real, the situations so harsh, that I can’t help but see these prophets and scripture characters as real people.
That sounds bad when I put it that way. But how often do you read scriptures and then think about the everyday lives of these people? The wives and children, homes, loved ones and the relationships between them all? Do you ever wonder what they ate for dinner? What their homes looked like or where they spent their days? Did they have jobs? Markets? How did they survive?
Both books gave me “a-ha” moments in which I had to set them down so the wonder could fill my brain as I thought, “I get it.” An epiphany of sorts.
These are the moments every reader longs for when they pick up a book. Because, no matter how entertained we are by a plot, how we enjoy the story, or love the characters, or are drawn into the setting, what we’re really looking for in a book is that one morsel of wisdom that makes us think, “A-ha!” That moment, suspended in time, in which something in our life connects us to something in the book, and we learn from what we’re reading. We understand. We empathize. We decide. And something inside us changes.
Every fictional story has some core base in reality. That’s the truth. Somewhere deep down, whether intentionally or not, every story has something to teach, something for the readers to learn. And as readers, isn’t that what we want out of a book?
Granted, this does not mean that we—the authors—should set out to write a book strictly with the idea of teaching a lesson. I’m sorry, but those books tend to come across as preachy.
Instead, I think it means that inside every story is a little core of a lesson, and—after the rough draft is written—it’s our job to find those little nuggets and polish them to a shine so that as our readers search for them, they’re able to find them and use them to light a path to the end of the book. And maybe, if we’re lucky, something in our words will light a path to something else in the life of a reader. An epiphany of sorts.
Our books will make readers think. Isn’t that the point?