Problem in Living #3: I lost my narrative

Dear Book Therapist,

When I was a kid, I would read adventure or fantasy books and feel so powerful and excited about the world. But now, in real life, it feels like only the bad stuff is powerful and regular people just have to grind away and try not to get crushed and replace the vacuum filters every six months and remember to take out the recycling. I'm losing touch with that feeling little kids have of being potentially very powerful in a dangerous world. Instead I feel small and tired in a dangerous world. What should I read?


Dear Anonymous,

Small children are glorious little ego freaks who think they might be able to control the weather with their minds. That's part of what makes them so hopeful. If things go just right, adulthood brings some tempering humility without destroying this capacity entirely.

Small children are all on the hero's journey. Even when they are toiling through the school day-- which is often more boring and crushing than taking out the recycling,  and takes much longer-- they see themselves at the center of a swashbuckling narrative of justice denied, progress slowly won, etc. Which, the thing is: that's a narrative that fits, more often than not. 

So you need a reminder. We here at Book Therapist missed International Women's Day, but to make up for it I would like to recommend to you my favorite book when I was 10: Sherryl Jordan's WINTER OF FIRE, which will wake the dormant ten-year-old within you, get her heart pumping, give her an ur-narrative for understanding racially oppressive cultural myth-making, and get her all fired up about the liberation of working people. This book is about a girl who frees her people with the power of her MIND. Tell me that's not a fantasy you had while someone was trying to teach you long division in 1994.

One of the insights of Jordan's book is that anybody can make change just by seeing through a lie. That makes me a little hopeful.


Book Therapist