I think everyone has one book...the one that you read over and over again as a child... the one with the character that you wished you were, or even, if the author had done their job well, sometimes believed you were.
I think I was eight when I discovered my book.
I may have been nine. But I remember it was summer, and I remember my mom coming into my bedroom saying things like Don't You Want to Play Outside and Aren't You Hungry Yet, but I didn't. And I wasn't.
I pulled the blanket over my head and made a tent that shut out the real world and in my mind
I was Karana, alone on my beautiful island. Even in all her sadness and loneliness I still wanted to be her. She told her story so well.
I read my book three times that summer and it never got old.
For the past two weeks, the kids and I have been homebodies...with Riley so sick last week and Laurelei this week... we haven't done much but just be home. Quiet. Resting. Occasionally checking fevers and sipping herb teas. But on Tuesday, when I realized Laurelei was probably in for the long-haul version of this virus just like Riley had been the week before, I went to the bookshelf and pulled out one book. My book.
And sat down with my little ones to read out loud.
I knew Laurelei would love it. She's a seven-and-a-half-year-old girl.
(I don't know of any official research on this topic, but I'm pretty sure the Dolphins Are So Pretty Stage is an actual developmental phase for young girls. And while Island of the Blue Dolphins really has very little to do with porpoises, it's a good hook for the right crowd.)
So I knew Laurelei would love it. I didn't expect Riley to even want to listen.
But I was underestimating the power of a story well-told. It is the power that brings a noisy, busy five-year old-boy to his Mamma's lap asking for just one more chapter, pleeease. It is the power that takes me, all these years later, back to the Karana's island of my mind and still, even though I know what's going to happen, gets me to hold my breath, laugh out loud, and even cry.
We have two chapters left. Tomorrow we'll be done, though I think Laurelei will want to read it again on her own. But this week has given me a new memory to go with my book. Now, when I think of Island of the Blue Dolphins I'll remember the blanket-covered solitude of the eight or nine-year-old bookworm, but I'll also remember the week when I held my fevered little girl in my arms, her brother on the arm of the couch behind me, and, little by little, read them the story of a brave girl alone on an island. A story that, in some way, is now theirs as well as mine.