Sunday, May 24, 2015

Book Review: A Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

I stumbled on "A Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing" while in one of my favorite places in the world: the Half Price Books clearance section. It was a dollar, and it sounded interesting. Let me give you a little synopsis, and we can proceed from there.

"A critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller, this spirited and wickedly insightful narrative maps the progress of fourteen-year- old Jane Rosenal as she navigates the perilous terrain of love, sex, and relationships, capturing-with perfect pitch-what it’s like to be a young woman in America today." - via Penguin Books

The story of Jane Rosenal is told in seven parts - or short stories. Starting from a young age (14) and the last story being told when she is in her mid to late 30's. Each body of work is separate, yet complete each other wholly. Bank's voice is warm, enduring, independent and sad. I couldn't wait to start the next story after reading the previous one - I gobbled it up.

Each bit tells a little bit of a different story, but the one main theme (as it is in many, many stories) is love. How do you get it? Maintain it? Fight for it? Why do we even want it in the first place? 

Because it's love.

Bank's writes:

And the more and more time I spend with those that I love - and I mean truly love, I feel the exact same way. How can you go from fighting to buffalo kisses? 

P.s. Shout out to my little sister for that one. It's where you literally lick someone on the cheek. It's disgusting, but she's my sister, so I am released from said bad mood. See? Love.

But it makes me ask - like the narrator Jane does - is it this way for everyone? Does everyone's emotions go from one spectrum to another just because of love? I don't know if I can answer that. Or if anyone can - not in the same way. But it makes love better. It means more.

It means "in sickness and health". I always liked that part of vows because it's hard to love someone when they're sick - even if it's just a cold. But you do it - even if marriage isn't even on the table. Or even remotely around the table - because that's what you signed up for. You signed up for life, and life makes you sick. It makes you healthy. It's everywhere in between, and like my main man John Green says in "Fault in Our Stars":

"You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have some say in who hurts you."

Because we get hurt. That's a simple fact of life. But there's some control. There's some ability to walk to a situation or walk away from it. We have that right. Jane has that right. She is confronted with a few separate occasions - from a boyfriend who cheats to diseases - where she is given the choice how much or how little it's going to hurt. 

In life and in love, you're thrusted into many things that you won't be prepared for. And whether you let it consume you or wash over you or mist you, that's a choice. There's an old Indian story that goes like this (via the Nanticoke Indian tribe):

"One evening, an elderly Cherokee brace told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said "My son, the battle is between two "wolves" inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith." The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "the one that you feed."

So go to it, or walk away.
Sprint toward the finish line, or away.
Feed the good, or feed the evil.

Make a choice and stick with it. That's all anyone can really ask for in life. And love, always love. Always make time for that hurt. For that pain. That pain ebbs and flows like life. Pain in selfish and cruel, but it also reminds you that you are alive - and that you feel something. People go their whole lives closed off from the world because they don't want to feel anything. They don't want that pain. 

I think you should demand it. Demand that pain. Demand that hurt. Because it's worth it - it's worth it all - because God gives you joy as well. Grace as well. And like Jane finds out, there's joy from pain. There's health from unhealth. There's love from brokenness. 

Demand your pain.

- C

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