by Amy Lignor of The Write Companion
A book came across my desk this past week that I felt so unbelievably ‘moved’ by that this week’s blog has to focus on this material. As anyone who knows me knows, I am not a big fan of romance novels. In fact, from the contemporary to the ‘bodice rippers,’ I find most of them incredible boring. Of course, authors do tend to - certainly in the ‘bodice ripper’ category - write about the exact same people time and time again: Girl is strong; girl hates guy; guy hates girl but is stuck with her; romance blooms (whether it be in Merry Old England, on a pirate ship, or in the wild, wild west, doesn’t matter); guy goes from snot to knight in shining armor; etc. Throw in a few over-the-top sex scenes and…The End.
Only once in a very great while does a book come along that can give you a fulfilling, heart-stopping romance, while also offering a world of reality, history, sorrow, happiness - every adjective you can think of - wrapped up in an amazing story that makes you wish to God you haven’t just turned the last page because there is no more, and you’re left staring at the two-thousandth ‘vampire love story’ that awaits your review.
In 2007, Pam Jenoff wrote The Kommandant’s Girl - a book that still, to this day after reviewing an average of forty books a month, is something I remember. She took readers back to the time of WWII (but not like all the rest who simply spew the Nazi and Hitler world with the same tone as everyone else.) Pam Jenoff created a very human character who watched, lived, and was courageous enough to make a difference during that horrific time period; where SHE, what SHE was doing, and the romance SHE was having was the center of attention, and not The Reich.
Books came after: The Diplomat’s Wife, Almost Home, A Hidden Affair. But then, I opened a box and saw The Things We Cherished - Jenoff’s newest creation - and was soon wrapped up in a world that I could not let go of. I always say a prayer, begging that no diabolical emergencies happen while I’m reading one of Jenoff’s books. (I only did that when the 7th Harry Potter fell into my lap and, like the rest of the known world, NEEDED to know.)
But Jenoff’s tale brought something else to the surface. Her story of the past that interweaves with the present is outstanding, but what readers learn from this amazing title is that you have to speak when you have something to say.
Every single one of those ‘moments’ in life is necessary, and when a ‘moment’ comes at you whether it be, a thank you; a declaration of undying love; saying the words I Do (or, the words, I Don’t); the goodbye you never got a chance to say because the hands of fate didn’t tell you that, in your hurry that day, it was the last time you were ever going to see someone - you have to seize it and not let it pass by.
In Jenoff’s story there are more than a few people who didn’t say what they wanted to say, and as time went forward it became far too late to change the past. Whether it’s a mystery set in WWII doesn’t matter. Whether it’s a relic that literally is passed through time from family to family linking them all in what becomes a heavenly love story has no meaning. The point is…saying what you have to say when you have to say it. Even if the words sound completely stupid in your own head at the time, we all have to stop having self-limiting beliefs. You know, those beliefs you are taught as you grow older of what is not right, or not appropriate…blah, blah, blah. If you dump all that garbage that you re taught and just SAY what you want to SAY, you know what you end up with? A fulfilling life, at the end, where you can fall asleep with a smile on your face because you have no regrets. That’s almost an impossibility. Courage is a must, and in some situations you can’t find that. But, as I raise my daughter, I keep telling her to find it because it’s there. And, after reading Pam Jenoff and seeing the world she’s created, once again that will knock readers’ socks off, I am making sure to drive that idea home with my daughter even more.
In life there are times you’re gonna’ look like a jerk - it’s unavoidable. There are times when you will be called a geek - or something even more harsh - because you chose your own path that was not the ‘accepted one.’ We all know what’s good and what’s bad. We all know not to murder, harm, steal, cheat, kill, or become the slime who we see on TV nowadays. We know to live with morals, ethics, and love. But we also need to learn to take a chance. Dreams can be put away into a treasure box of sorts for a better ‘time,’ and then life comes upon us where we have to make sure to make enough money to sustain our families, etc. But that box is still there. And most don’t reopen that box until it’s time for retirement, and then the improbable has become the impossible.
I am asking everyone to not close that lid. Even if you’re wanting to be an astronaut right now, don’t call it quits. NASA says it’s over, but nothing is ever really over, so don’t stop trying for that. The world evolves every single day - sometimes for the worst, I grant you - but don’t close the lid and lock up what you truly want, because there comes a time when you can’t go back.
You can never go back to say the words you wished you’d said, or follow the dream you wish you had. Live with no regrets. If you don’t believe me, go purchase Pam Jenoff’s books!
Until Next Time, Everybody.