I can’t even begin to tally the many ways this NYT piece by US Children’s Literature Ambassador Gene Luen Yang speaks the truth to me. It’s about books as windows. You’d think, how could anyone say anything fresh and new about that old trope? Well, here we go. To start with Gene puts himself at the center of the anecdote:
Then he takes me into a scenario filled with the small, incidental meannesses of childhood that we all know about. Only he’s culpable as well, so I am immediately committed to this journey, uncomfortable as it is. And it is, especially as he has happened to name his antagonist after (gulp) my only child. Point taken. We’re all part of the journey.
Snippet of banner text:
“When our class visited the school library, Nikhil and I were surrounded by windows into the lives of our other classmates, but never each other’s.”
And then, just when I think I know what’s going on, I get hit with this! No, really? My book and Mike Jung’s? I was a fan already and now I am committed.
Gandhi, the movie, seals the deal for me.
What a powerful piece this is! It carries so much weight in each small choice that Yang has made. The local theater. The school library. We’re all in the same tangled webs of relationships and rough edges and glares of disdain. The solutions have to come from all of us.