When I was a kid there was one book that haunted me. The cover looked nothing short of sinister. A boy holding a lantern and an ax peers into the dark woods. Something bad was in those woods, I knew it. But that wasn’t why I was terrified to read the book. It was because of what was with the boy.
Dogs. Two of them.
All dog books end with the dog dying. All. Of. Them. Even at a young age I knew that.
So, yeah. No thank you.
I successfully made it to my 37th year without having read Where the Red Fern Grows. That’s right. I skipped on by it, figuring that I could live the rest of my life without it.
See, here’s the thing. I was an emotional child. I couldn’t make it through National Geographic nature movies without breathing into a paper sack because the mean old lion killed a gazelle or whatever.
That’s not to say I didn’t read emotionally charged books. I did. In fact, books in which the characters struggled were my favorites. They made me feel less alone. I have always liked a story with grit.
But not when the grit had anything to do with a dog suffering. That was just too much for me.
So, I didn’t read it. And I felt perfectly fine about that. Until a few weeks ago.
That’s when my husband discovered, with shock and disgust in his voice, that I’d never read it. It, apparently, is one of his favorite books. So, I gave myself a challenge. I read a book that scared me.
I have to say, the book was completely different from what I’d expected. I mean, some things I’d predicted did come to fruition. But it was a beautiful story. Truly. Loyalty, friendship, family, faith. A boy growing into manhood (even though he did cry a lot).
And, can we just take a moment to talk about Old Dan and Little Ann? Because, seriously, that was some good characterization. Also, if a dog shelter is trying to market dogs, they need to give out free copies of this book because I suddenly have a strong NEED for a dog or two.
There are other books that scare me. Not in the Stephen King kind of scaring (I don’t tend to shy away from his novels).I mean books that intimidate me. Books that were off limits to me when I was a kid because I was in the lowest reading level (I know…I know…it all started because I was being a picky reader and my teacher thought I struggled to read…). Books that I fear I’ll hate, even though everyone else loved them. Books I’m afraid to love because everyone else hated them. Books that might push me to the emotional limits.
Books that might just force me to change the way I view others in the world.
As I learned as I read Where the Red Fern Grows, the reading is worth the risk.
What will you read? What book scares you? Why? I’d love to hear from you!