It was Christmas of 1983. I was in the seventh grade and I was 12 years old. I was into typical things for a girl of that age back then, but specifically…unicorns. My parents gave me this book as a gift that year. I doubt they even remember it. I look at the cover and think that the reason they bought it for me had very little to do with the story as it did the fact that it was a book (my favorite pastime back then) and it had a unicorn on it (which was something I collected back then) so win and win. Great gift. Little did they know the impact this book would have on me.
This was the first book that I remember reading that challenged my thinking. It taught me things and at the same time, it made me do some research on my own…which was harder in 1983 than it is now. I actually had to use a dictionary and an encyclopedia! The story was good but there were words and topics that I did not fully understand. I liked the story enough that I was compelled to look stuff up. This was a first for me.
I had loved reading ever since I can remember, but this book was my first “adult” novel. I think that had my parents read the last few pages that they would not have given it to me, so parents…I advise you to NOT buy this book for your 12 year old daughters…unless you want to rip out pages 319 – 321. This is the first book that when it ended, my heart felt broken. Both because of the ending of the story and because I did not want to be done with the book. I’d found friends in the pages of the book. I’d grown attached to them.
Over time, that book was the only thing I kept from my childhood. I read it 2 or 3 times a year until my husband and I moved into the house we live in now. We have been here 11 years. So, I guess I had read that book between 24 and 36 times over a 12 year period…each time I understood more and more about the characters and the story…and about what went on from page 319 – 321. The book was my comfort food, my nicotene, my blankey, my safe place…it was home. It was the one constant when nothing else seemed to be. My friend.
You may wonder why I stopped reading it. Had I grown up? Was it now boring? Yes I had grown up…unfortunately after having moved so many times and having been read and loved more than any book on the planet…she fell apart. It started with the cover, then slowly the pages began falling apart and finally she disappeared. I don’t remember throwing her away, she just wasn’t where she was supposed to be any longer. When I first realized it a few years ago, I was very saddened but figured I could locate her at a library or a local book store…boy was I wrong. Nothing turned up at the used book stores locally either. Even if I had found it, I could not have bought it. She was a gift to me, and it would be weird to buy the book for myself.
I found an electronic version on line, but it wasn’t the same. The cover illustration was different and the feel would be wrong if I downloaded and printed it at home. After a little searching I found some used copies on line…so I hinted around to my parents and my husband for a few years. Birthdays, Valentines Day, Christmas, Anniversary…
Well, this Christmas, my husband gave me the best gift ever…diamonds could not even come close. He purchased a copy that – though the page edges are yellow, has never been read (or at least the binding never broken) and is signed by the cover artist. Though it is signed “To Stuart…” still, a collectible for me. He also purchased another copy, in decent condition so that I can read…over and over until she too falls apart…
For those who know me, and are placing bets…yes, I cried. I am rather weepy now…good tears. Being reunited with a friend…what a great gift…I have been through cover to cover and my Breanna (16 years old is okay, 12 not so much) has gotten to know my friend and likes her quite a bit – except pages 319-321…
So Dave, honey, these words really can not do justice to how much this has meant to me.
Thanks honey, I love you very much.
(And hey, Steven R. Boyett…if you’re out there…thanks to you as well.)