Isla and the Happily Ever After

Here's the thing about books. 

Even in the most unexpected plots and characters and covers I find these sentences that throw me, and that's why I blog about books the way I do. I don't describe the plot to you, because you probably already know everything about the book you want to read by the time you reach my review of it.

I don't wish to talk about how well-rounded or flat characters are, because what I think won't stop you from reading a book if you really want to, and it shouldn't (please don't ever keep yourself away from a story because of another's thoughts on it).

I try to give readers the best sentences I can find, because words are why you should want to read about a character or a setting or a plot. If the words touch and affect and move you then it doesn't matter what other people think or say or feel.  

Here's the thing about Isla and the Happily Ever After. 

I didn't love it for the same reasons that others did, and I didn't love it for the reasons people didn't. I loved the last quarter of the book more than I liked the first.

I loved it, because I have done all the things Isla does at the end of the book. I have said mean things that I couldn't take back when I was frightened, and I have said cruel things when I didn't want to be hurt first.

Because sometimes it feels as if it is better to end things before you can be rejected; rejected by family, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends, professors, dogs. 

I really loved this book because of the words I read at the end; the words that made me cry because I have silently whispered them hundreds of times to myself in the shower:

"I am hard on myself. But isn't it better to be honest about these things before someone else can use them against you? Before someone else can break your heart? Isn't it better to break it yourself?"

How could someone ever love me the way I love them. They only like me because they are bored. He thinks I'm crazy. She doesn't think I'm funny. He's only saying I'm a good writer to be nice. He's going to leave the moment he realizes that there is someone else out there. Someone prettier. Someone happier. Someone funnier. 

And I know there are so many of us out there who think this way. We replay situations in our minds and wonder what we did wrong, but we can't let this disability debilitate us. If we let intrusive thoughts rule our lives then we are killing all of our future laughter before it is ever able to form. 

I applaud everyone who has ever been friends with me, because I can't even count the number of times I have asked them, "Do you like my story?"


"You're just saying that because you're my friend."

At some point we have to believe the people that tell us good things, but we also have to believe in our own stories. 

"Umbrellas are so small and sad and easy to forget."

We are not umbrellas. 

"I'm beginning to think that maybe it's okay to be a blank canvas. Maybe it's okay that my future is unknown. And maybe," I say with another smile, "it's okay to be inspired by the people who do know their future."

I have absolutely no idea where I'm going to be in six months, and I have no idea if the problems I have today will even be a memory then. As long as I keep writing I will be okay. I can learn from my mentor, and I can learn from my boss, and I can learn from my coworkers, and I can probably learn a lot from just putting the dishes away after dinner.

I have written about an author and an artist and Hello, Dolly! and foster parents, and I once wrote a really horrible article about searching for your Irish ancestors that didn't get me hired at a job that would have bored me crazy. And these little things can become a character in a story or a story itself.

I should know; I created a story from a little blue kitchen sink sponge last year.