Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Worth Reading: City of Girls


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I stayed up way too late finishing Elizabeth Gilbert's City of Girls before I went to sleep last night.

Mulling it over as I climbed the stairs to bed, I realized I found most of the characters and much of the plot completely improbable. Why then did I stay up so late to finish it?

To begin with, because it contains an assortment of wise and insightful passages like this one:
"When we are young, Angela, we may fall victim to the misconception that time will heal all wounds and that eventually everything will shake itself out. But as we get older, we learn this sad truth: some things can never be fixed. Some mistakes can never be put right -- not by the passage of time, and not by our most fervent wishes, either.

In my experience, this is the hardest lesson of them all.

After a certain age, we are all walking around this world in bodies made of secrets and shame and sorrow and old, unhealed injuries. Our hearts grow sore and misshapen around all this pain -- yet somehow, still, we carry on."
And this:
"This is what I've found about life, as I've gotten older: you start to lose people, Angela. It's not that there is ever a shortage of people -- oh, heavens, no. It is merely that -- as the years pass -- there comes to be a terrible shortage of your people. The ones you loved. The ones who knew the people that you both loved. The ones who know your whole history."
And I couldn't help but fall in love with the main characters, who, despite their many flaws -- or perhaps because of them -- radiated love and compassion for those around them. It seemed to me the story was one long lesson in the giving and receiving of grace - something the world could surely use more of.

Of course, since it's a Liz Gilbert book, all the earnest stuff is packaged in a rollicking good story, set in a intriguing time and place, lyrically told, which makes it perfect reading for a long winter's night by the fire, or lazy day on the beach. Highly recommended.

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