The Hope Factor in Books

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

I seem to have a theme going this month about books, so it’s a good time to announce the winner of my latest website book give-away. Kim from right here in Kentucky won Virginia Smith’s autographed copy of Stuck in the Middle and the choice of one of my books. Congratulations, Kim! Thanks to the rest of you who entered the drawing. I’ll be posting a new give-away on my website in February. I have a couple of autographed books from other writers and of course my own. Maybe you’ll be the lucky winner next time. I’ve also posted the cover of The Believer and have my new “Readers Say” page up and running. So check it out.

And since I’m talking about books, have you ever given up on a book? Just got tired of it and shut it and didn’t pick it back up? I hope not one of mine. Or do you always finish every book you start whether you like it or not? I think I may have asked this question once before, but the reason it’s back on my mind is that I’ve started a book I’m thinking about putting back on the shelf without finishing. It’s an award winner, has great reviews, and looks like a book I would want to read. It’s well written with finely drawn characters. But there’s nobody I can like. It starts out with a ten-year-old narrating and you’d think anybody could like a ten-year-old girl. I want to. I really do, but I’m finding it hard. I think because I don’t feel any hope in the story. I have the bad feeling things aren’t going to get better and the child will never find a way that is not so difficult, not so depressing and that life is going to beat her down.

Bad things can happen in stories. I don’t quit on them because of that. I might be unhappy if a character I care about is done in without good cause. I know. I know. I hear all of you screaming at me that I let people die in my stories, but only if that’s what really happened. A writer has to stay true to her story and I think the writer of the book I’m ready to give up on is doing that. Maybe my problem is that I don’t like her story. I miss that hope factor. Of course, I haven’t put it back on the shelf yet. Perhaps I’ll trudge on with her a few more pages. Would you?

January is being a cold one here in Kentucky. We’re supposed to get down to 8 tonight and zero tomorrow night. It’s been a while since it was that cold, but I remember much colder temps when I was growing up. Once the thermometer actually read 22 below. Very cold. And another time – after they came up with the wind chill temperatures to make you freeze a little faster -the wind chill was 47 below on Christmas Eve. That was a cold one and people’s cars froze up while they were trying to get home for Christmas celebrations. I’ve been reading a Civil War diary and in it the diarist says it was 18 below on January 4, 1864, the coldest winter they’d had since 1835. So 8 degrees and zero sound almost balmy in comparison. Of course I haven’t heard that nasty wind chill number yet.

So stay warm and remember, when the cold winds are blowing outside that’s a great time to be cozy in your favorite reading chair with a cup of tea or hot chocolate and a book that is full of hope. And practice some kindness to keep us warm.

  • “One kind word can warm three winter months.” -Japanese Proverb