Yesterday, on a writers’ loop, we discussed the first “real” novel that we ever connected with while in our youth. Something beyond Dr. Suess. It’s a great question and one that can tell you so much about a person. What books do they connect with and why?
Now there are always people who consider fiction “lies” and can’t get past that to find the lessons in other people’s experiences, but I was never one of those people. I always connected with the parables of Jesus for precisely that reason — it SHOWED me the lesson in action and what a beautiful gift. To allow someone else to deal with life’s ugly lessons while you can learn by observing.
The first real novel that spoke to me and changed the course of my life, was basic. So very basic. “Pride and Prejudice” — I mean what a blasé answer from a romance writer. But what spoke to me was that Elizabeth Bennet was smart. She wasn’t a simpering heroine who did what was expected of her. She had quite a snarky spunk to her. (I definitely identified with that.)
Jane Austen wrote a scathing review of the injustice for women in her era. Only men could inherit property. That meant if you didn’t have a brother, you were in big trouble unless you could marry well.
Later, from the classics, I learned that you could attack any injustice in life through the pen. Thomas Hardy would teach me about the Pharisees in “Tess of the D’urbervilles” and Dostoevsky would show me that we are all the prodigal son in “Crime and Punishment.” Tolstoy would teach me that great heroines like “Anna Karenina” are supporting characters to someone coming to Christ (the narrator.)
Fiction allows authors to make great injustices in the world, right again. While I will never be Austen or Tolstoy, I do hope that my writing corrects some of the injustices in the world and gives readers hope. What was your first “real” book?