I am deep into the novel The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud and loving every poetic word I absorb. It is a deeply moving novel, so far, and I am excited to channel my enthusiasm for the book into a blog review. For now, I want to reflect on the way the novel is effecting me.
I think all good experiences, experiences worth having and investing time in, should have an effect on your life. Sometimes it happens with a good movie that just comes at the right time with equal parts entertainment and opportunity for reflection, sometimes it is a family moment shared at a particularly joyous time, sometimes it is a long chat with a good friend. Right now, this novel is my long chat, a moment of reverie in what has been a very busy tumultuous few months. These experiences work to put things into perspective, to knock you down to earth. The experience of reading this novel is more than just excitement in the words and storyline, it is appreciating the beauty of the written word and how a story of another person’s struggle can put your own into perspective.
Anyone who has completed a cross-country move and with young kids in tow to boot, has sympathy for what my world has been the last few months. When life gives you lemons and you attempt to make lemonade, with the stress of a new concoction along the way, there will be hard moments. There will be busy times, sad times, and certainly times when, for us at least, reflection means doubt that the right choices have been made. I am a worry-wart by nature; but a huge life event put into motion at least in part by personal choices, means worrying even more. When there are kids involved, the worry shifts. It is less about me and more “is this right for them”? As a parent, you always wonder if you are doing right by your kids.
Is this what this novel is about? I think so. Is this what my life is about right now? Yes, definitely. I live with the nagging guilt that my fatigue at 6 months pregnant means my older babies aren’t getting the parent they deserve. I live with the doubt that we have given them the best opportunity with this new move. Have we given them even more opportunity? Time will tell. Like the protagonist of the novel did, I think you need to just have faith that when the feeling inside that big change is necessary, healthy, and important renders itself real, you need to follow it. I think that is what I have done. I did do it. And will continue to do so as I try to find my voice and path in this new world we have set up for ourselves, and which holds the promise of opportunity.