JEN: Well, we have come to the sad part. In case people reading weren’t forewarned, this is a super sad book. It doesn’t start out as a sad book, but it does get super sad – like, all-of-a-sudden, sit-yourself-down, grab-a-box-of-tissues sad. I felt really bad when I got your text over the weekend telling me how sad it was.
COLBY: So sad, Jen. So stinking sad. The whole time reading it felt like something sad was going to
happen, but it was still heartbreaking and shocking when Charlie died.
JEN: I seriously kept thinking the whole thing was going to be about Fern helping Holden.
COLBY: I adore Fern and Holden’s relationship. They do such a great job of looking out for each other.
JEN: They do do an amazing job of looking out for each other. I like how there is so much that they communicate with each other that is unsaid, but at the same time, when it’s time for them to talk about things, they are able to be honest with each other.
COLBY: Holden and Fern’s relationship makes me wish that I would have been closer to my siblings when I was younger. As the oldest, I just kind of did my own thing, and kind of ignored my siblings until I was older. 😦
JEN: I have a cousin who is three years older than me and her and I used to hang out together. I think because I had her, I didn’t spend as much time really bonding with my sister. It’s really hard to be honest with other people. I feel like it’s hard to come to a place where it’s okay to be honest and know you won’t hurt the other person’s feelings. Either the person doesn’t realize what you realize or doesn’t want to accept the truth you are going to tell them. It’s the same way when someone is honest with me, if someone tells me something that wasn’t even on my radar, it completely blows my mind. I have to stop and rethink everything. Or if they tell me something I really didn’t want to believe was true, it has the same effect. Sometimes I would almost rather not face the truth of things.
COLBY: I think it is so weird when someone that I don’t feel that I am super close with, shares something with me that I would NEVER share with them. It makes me feel so uncomfortable and I never know what to say.It makes me happy that I’m not on Facebook.
JEN: So you are thinking more along the lines of just talking about personal things…I’m thinking more of something like, “I know you think those pants are really cool but they totally make you look like you walked out of the 70’s. And not in a good way.”
COLBY: Do people say things like that?
JEN: i feel like friends can say that to people, or my husband will say that kind of stuff – in a totally NICE way, in a completely honest way, in a way that they mean to help me realize something that I’m completely oblivious to, but it’s still makes me feel bad sometimes. It’s just hard to hear the truth sometimes, as much as afterwards, I’m (usually) grateful.
COLBY: I am 100% non-confrontational. I don’t do awkward. When awkward situations come up on television, I leave the room. I can’t handle it.
JEN: I agree, I tend to avoid confrontation at all costs, but isn’t it funny that we connect being honest with being confrontational? I have to have a super honest conversation with someone today and I have no idea how to start but at the same time, I feel like I’m not being fair to myself or this other person if I don’t talk about this. I don’t mean for it to be confrontational but something has to change and I have to be honest about my feelings in order for it to change. I don’t think it will become a confrontation or an argument or anything like that, but I am so worried about how to be honest without hurting this other person’s feelings.
COLBY: Good luck. I don’t do that stuff well.
JEN: Neither do I! It is so hard. I think that’s why it is so awesome to read about characters like Fern and Holden who are able to be honest with each other. Fern is an awesome sister for pushing Holden to talk with her and let her into the side of him that he keeps guarded from others. I’m glad she doesn’t give up on him.
COLBY: One thing that I really love about Holden is that he tries to protect Fern and shield her from the issues he faces. They complement each other well.
JEN: They really do. He is a strong character. I like how Fern makes sure he knows she is there and she will support him and that he doesn’t have to go through it alone. I loved listening to an author panel talk about bullying at IRA. The authors were Rita Williams-Garcia, Heather Brewer, Siobhan Vivian, and Jay Asher. They all had great messages to share but Heather Brewer spoke from some very intense experiences that she had growing up. Her main message was that it’s so important for anyone who is being bullied to know there is someone there who will listen and who is willing to hear their story. After hearing that, I was thinking of how Fern supports Holden in that way. She makes sure he knows she is there for him and that he doesn’t have to be alone in what he is dealing with.
COLBY: Being heard is so important. Sometimes our jobs as teachers is to be the one that listens, and other times it’s to find the right book that will allow the student to feel that they are not alone.
JEN: Yes! I completely agree, and that’s exactly what Heather Brewer said, too. She said books were an escape for her. She could read about other kids who weren’t going through what she was going through. It was very powerful to hear her speak. I had a huge epiphany last night about myself and reading. Even though I don’t feel like I’m escaping into books…it is like I’m being able to focus on things that aren’t my life at the same time so I guess it is escaping when I read. Sometimes all my everyday things are not what I want to think about, so being able to read about anything that’s not my everyday life is so great. Even though I make connections with my life as I read, it’s not directly about my life and I love that.
COLBY: I never thought about it like that. Pretty much all of my reading is kid lit, so it’s not exactly like I’m reading about people my age and people like me.
JEN: But you still grow as a person by reading and discussing kidlit. I rarely read adult books but even when I do, even if they are very similar to my life, they just aren’t my real life. I think books speak to the creative and imaginative part of my mind. It’s the difference between having conversations about paying bills and needing to water the plants to having conversations about wanting to someday visit the Eiffel Tower and loving when I went camping with my grandparents as a kid. Reading and talking about books is an escape in that way because it’s not a paying-the-bills kind of conversation. BUT at the same time it does give us access to looking at and growing who we are when we are in paying-the-bills mode. The hard but honest conversation I have to have today has nothing to do with the topic of the conversation Fern and Holden had – but they have inspired me to be more confident and to feel more strongly that this conversation has to happen and I have to be the one to make sure it happens. I love books!