Sunday, March 12, 2017

Weekly Inspiration: Finding Your Way Out of the Storm

This week's Weekly Inspiration comes from a middle-grade novel I recently read called The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart (my review at the link - don't worry - no spoilers!). The story is about a young boy named Mark with a serious illness (probably cancer though it's not stated); he's twelve years old in the book, and he's been sick since he was five. Fed up with so many years of illness and treatments and discouraged by some recent bad news, he runs away from home, with the goal of climbing Mount Ranier. He decides to tackle this big dream of his now because he's afraid this will be his last chance. Of course, he has all kinds of adventures (and challenges, including a big storm) along the way and meets some very interesting people.

Here's what Mark says toward the end of the novel:
"I thought of all my sickness, all my anger, all my fear. All that was just the darkness, just the storm. I got lost in it. But there's always the other side of the storm. And the people who get you there.

All the world's a storm, I guess, and we all get lost sometimes. We look for mountains in the clouds to make it all seem like it's worth it, like it means something. And sometimes we see them. And we keep going."

          - The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

I thought that was such an apt metaphor for living with chronic illness. We can so easily get wrapped up in those dark emotions, the storm, but we need to remind ourselves that the storm will end - there is always another side to it, after you've come through it. Like Mark, our illness may not go away, but we can still come out of that darkness of anger, fear, and bitterness to the other side, where the sun is shining, people care about us, and there is hope.

Besides sharing this thoughtful and relevant quote with you, I also chose a quote from this particular book because it is an excellent middle-grade novel. I know that many people with ME/CFS and related illnesses have trouble reading - concentrating, following complicated plots, etc. One possible solution is to read middle-grade books or books for teens and young adults. The Honest Truth is a great example of a book written for kids - shorter, with simpler language and a simpler plot than most adult novels - that is still thoughtful, moving, and full of suspense. It's an excellent novel for anyone, at any age. And, in case you are worried that it's depressing since it's about a sick kid, it's really not - it has plenty of emotional depth, but the focus - as you can see from the above quote - is on hope.

For more examples of middle-grade books, this link will take you to all of the middle-grade book reviews I've written (a lot!). Use this link to check out the teen/YA books I've reviewed (note that some, like second one listed, were actually written for adults but are appropriate for teens). For more, older reviews of middle-grade and teen/YA books, check out my blog Great Books for Kids and Teens - I combined that one with my Book By Book blog a few years ago, but it still includes hundreds of archived reviews. There are a lot of reviews between the two blogs, so if there is a specific kind of genre you like - realistic fiction, mystery, dystopian, etc. - just let me know in the comments, and I can recommend some of my favorites in that category for you.

You may find - as many with ME/CFS do - that you can manage reading or listening to on audio books written for kids and teens, even though most adult books are too difficult for you to follow.

How about you? Have you, like Mark in the book, ever felt like you made it through a storm of dark emotions and came out the other side? Have you ever tried reading or listening to books for kids or teens?

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