Sunday, December 13, 2015

Book #50: Jim the Boy

This week's selection comes with a confession: This is not my book. I have a copy lent to me by my sister-in-law years ago and that I unearthed from my Grammie's old desk in our front hall.

It doesn't happen all the time, but once in a while I become a black hole, and it can be risky lending something to me. Beware.

It's serendipitous that this particular book caught my attention this week. It's a gentle novel about a boy being raised by his mom and three uncles on a farm in North Carolina in the 1930s. In the first chapter he turns ten, and bit by bit as the story unfolds over the course of a year, his world gets a little bigger.

It's serendipitous because I happen to be leaving Jack and Roger behind and heading to North Carolina in a few days. Not only that, the reason I'm heading there is my cousin's daughter's Bat Mitzvah, which will mark her coming of age in her Jewish community.

Her world (and all of ours) is getting a bit bigger.

In a moment he was lost amid the uncles, who swarmed around the table and hustled him to the door, their voices combining into a single, unintelligible din of laughter and teasing. Mama handed him his notebook and his ball glove as the uncles jostled him across the porch and down the steps.

When Jim reached the state highway, he turned and looked back. Mama and the uncles waved from the porch.

"Be good, Doc," called Uncle Zeno.

"Study hard," said Mama.

"Pay attention," said Uncle Al.

"Don't get a paddling," said Uncle Coran.

"'Bye," yelled Jim, waving back. "'Bye, everybody."

And when he turned and looked up the hill toward the school, he wished for a moment that he did not have to take another step, that he could stay right where he was and never have to leave again.

It's nice, this idea of staying wrapped up in a safe, comfortable place. Growing up can be hard, sometimes scary, even painful. And it doesn't actually ever end, not that I know.

But, honestly, the widening world of experience? Even when it's hard? Maybe especially when it's hard? It's amazing.

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