Sunday Check-in: Reading and War

ROW80LogocopyI missed the last check-in…accidentally on purpose. I really didn’t have anything to report so I figured I’d just leave it. Today, although I don’t have any update on my WIP (work in progress), I do have a book I need to tell you about. Now, don’t get all excited that this is a newly published, cutting edge, bestseller. That’s not the way I roll with books. I tend to pick up whatever I hear about, that catches my attention, long after it’s been published (usually). For example…I read The Hobbit last year. 🙂 This new-to-me book was actually published in 2008 and was a national bestseller and nominated for several awards. You may have heard of it: The Cellist of Sarajevo.

Now, if you’ve noticed the types of books I normally read, the Cellist hardly falls within the same category. It takes you deep within the heart of the war in the former Yugoslavia. I actually borrowed this book from a friend and it took me a long time to pick it up because I was somewhat anxious about the content. I normally like to read and watch TV as an escape from reality and a book, about a war that happened within my lifetime, would hardly provide such an avenue for escape. HOWEVER, once I read the first chapter, I was hooked. It’s  not that I enjoy reading about suffering but the human aspect that the writer, Steven Galloway, so deftly brings to the forefront is extremely compelling.

He’s stopped talking to his friends, visits no one, avoids those who come to visit him…He can perhaps learn to bear the destruction of buildings, but the destruction of the living is too much for him. If people are going to be taken away from him, either through death or a transformation of their personality that makes them into strangers, then he’s better off without them.

The Cellist of SarajevoI have to tell you, though, it’s an emotional roller coaster. I think anyone who reads it would find this. I do, however, have several personal connections which make the story even more poignant. I have a dear friend who lived through this war in Sarajevo. She and I don’t talk about it very much. When she feels like talking, I listen, but I don’t bring it up because I know how much pain it caused her. She lost her parents to the war. Each was taken on separate occasions but both in horrifying ways. Living through that and having those memories and the ones of just trying to survive day-to-day with almost nothing, is more than you think any human should have to endure. I also have friends in war-torn Syria who are coping in a very similar situation to those described in the book. Each line, each hardship, each bullet and sadness riddled vignette, drives home the realities so many people have or do face in this world.

I know that as I get further into it, the book will get more and more difficult, but I hope there will be some light in it as well. More than likely it will have something to do with the triumph of the human spirit. That, I have already seen in my friends so I know, first hand, it exists. I really can’t put the book down, though, no matter where it takes me. I’m already bound by the characters and, in a weird way, need to walk next to them as long they’re there. Once I’m done, I’ll write a quick post-reading review as an appendix to this post.

Until next time…do enjoy whatever you’re reading and tell me about it in a comment, if you wish. 🙂

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