The page-turner metaphor doesn’t work with audio books, but if it did, I’d be using it for The Goldfinch. To say that the audio book version of Donna Tartt’s pulitzer-prize winning novel has got me excited for my daily commute would be an understatement. I can’t wait to find out what happens next in the life of Theodore Decker, the book’s young-adult protagonist.
I’m about halfway through the novel, and already Theo has experienced tragedy, abuse, homelessness and grief. Where I left off, Theo is basking in a reprieve from the trauma as he finds refuge in an elderly friend’s home, but as I look at the screen of my car-audio system and see that I’m only on disk 14 of 26, I feel anxious and aching. The book is so much longer, something bad is bound to happen.
That’s how I feel about life sometimes. It’s so long, something bad is bound to happen. I’m twenty-seven-years-old, and I have yet to experience hardship in any deep sense. I’ve lost grandparents, an aunt, a dog; I’ve been rejected from schools and jobs; I’ve broken an ankle, failed tests, and been teased. But by all accounts, I’ve been undisturbed by the anguishes that I know are ultimately inevitable in a life — the deaths of those nearest and dearest to me, health problems, financial or employment concerns, and accidents or natural disasters. In other words, though I have faced hardship, my life hasn’t been shattered yet. But it, like The Goldfinch, will presumably be long, and therefore something bad is bound to happen.
I’m going to take the advice, then, that I am yearning to give Theo. Lean on the people who you know have your back. Terribly sad events will likely befall you, but there are people who love you. Don’t be afraid to turn to them for reprieve and help. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or knock on the door of an old friend. And when you make your way into his patchwork and musky den, rest in the warmth and soak in the care. Life is long. Something bad is bound to happen. And there will be people and light there to catch you when it does.