Saturday, May 05, 2007

To change a life with a stroke of a pen

One night this week, I re-discovered the wonders of the neighbourhood library.

It was a cool, post-rain Thursday night, D had gone for a run and I made my way to the Bukit Merah Community Library near our place. My mission was to borrow a couple of light-hearted Dilbert and Get Fuzzy comic books. I ended up walking away (apart from the comics which are great) with a copy of I am David, a book I read when I was about 11, that kinda changed my life.

OK at risk of sounding dramatic, there were a few books like that in my childhood, which left an incredible imprint in my mind, shaped my thinking, or opened my eyes to wider possibilities. So when I am David popped back into memory this week, it was like re-connecting with an old friend. I read it over two nights, and was blown away (again!) by the imagery in the book, the themes it touched on, and its unwavering portrayal of a truly original character.

In a nutshell, I am David tells the story of a young boy who is given the opportunity to escape from a concentration camp in Eastern Europe sometime in the 1950s. His entire life has been lived in the confines of the grey, grim camp, and the book charts his journey from unnamed Eastern bloc country to Denmark (where he is told to go). Along the way, he experiences for the first time beauty, colour, humour, happiness, conscience and a host of other things that we take forgranted as part of the childhood experience.

It's amazing. Anyway, started thinking about the books I read growing up that shaped well, me! So here goes (not in any particular order):

  1. I am David by Ann Holm- for reasons stated above
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - Introduced the concept of social justice to me, plus, I had a crush on Jem. Actually, think I sorta ended up marrying an incarnation of him in the end :)
  3. Danny the Champion on the World by Roald Dahl - I just found his relationship with his dad so cool. Plus I cried at the end.
  4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - Made me want to study Lit, plus, I had a crush on Mr Darcy. Actually, think I sorta ended up marrying an incarnation of him in the end! Ok, now this is getting scary!
  5. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis - First encounter with allegory and semi-religious writing. I think I grasped early on that Aslan was meant to be God/Jesus, and the knowledge of this deeper layer to the story really thrilled me at the time.
I'm sure there are more, but my pizza (da-baoed from Gastranomia after lovely lunch followed by Devonshire tea at Fosters with D, D and F below) is ready. Gotta run!


maree said...

Snap! Have kept a copy of "I Am David" for years and years.
Again, one of my favourite books..originally bought cos I fell in love with the title!
So many books that cross our paths.. Wonderful.
Don't want to finish Extremely Funny & Incredibly Loud but it's going to happen tonight... wish my name was Black so wee Oskar would visit!

Anonymous said...

oh my gosh poo! i am david! i read it too when i was in school. and i totally forgot about it until i read your post. tks for reminding me. must go hunt for it now!
oh and i also had major crush on jem. even had plans to name first born male Jeremy. hahaah....

the big head