Lynn Joseph's Dancing in the Rain, third place winner Burt Award for Caribbean Literature, 2015: another book answering the question why write? Or the power of stories
I see that my previous post was in May. Astonishing! I was supposed to be getting organized at that time, posting regularly. Well clearly not. In what the Americans are now calling the big 'reveal', I will let you know that my husband has dementia. I thought it would be that he'd just get quieter and quieter and that would be painful enough, 'the long goodbye', as my doctor said. Sometimes he is, but at other times it's quite different, and today is one of those; hallucinating and very noisy, shouting at his imaginary people. It's emotionally draining. Yes, he has taken his meds. I feel like the 'deer in the headlights'. What would be an appropriate simile for the Caribbean? Can't think! I wonder if this could be the making of a story. I'm not sure how many young adults have to interact with people suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's, so perhaps it wouldn't be meaningful to them. However, that is why, to my surprise, I have not organized myself.
Therefore perhaps this is a good time to re-post Lynn Joseph's Dancing in the Rain (Blouse and Skirt Books/Blue Banyan Books), a Burt Award winning book. It deals with realities that sometimes we wish our young people didn't have to go through, and yet, increasingly in this world, they have to face so many challenges, so many things for which we have no explanation or even understanding.
I had a post about books that bear evidence to the power of stories. Dancing in the Rain is one such book.
Offline for three days, one felt lost in space without the ritual of opening emails. I decided therefore that I could use the time to consider at least one philosophical question. Would there be an answer if one opened one's mind? I needed to make sense of things. And the world was not making sense. No doubt, there are others who feel the same from time to time, and especially in today’s world.
In stepped Dancing in the Rain. I was pulled into the story by the lyrical writing. It's a joy to read; images abound, almost like being able to watch the frames of a movie gently gliding by. Joseph's characters are delightfully drawn; you do indeed get to know them, want to know not only the outcome of the story, but the outcome of each of their own personal stories. The colours of the Caribbean depicted are vibrant and magical.
Against this mystical, magical background, two horrendous occurrences make their appearance, the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York on 9/11, and the Holocaust. The main characters are suffering from the effects of 9/11. It’s significant that a book for young adults should deal with a traumatic occurrence which falls within present memory. It is contemporary; it is topical in a world where so many things seem out of our control, so beyond our wildest imaginations, and not in a pleasant way. The Holocaust appears as a story within the story, its purpose to draw attention to the different ways people survive after a tragedy of immense proportions. So, in a sense, it informs the present.
The young protagonists ask philosophical questions and seek answers to the things we adults ourselves often do not understand. Yet, it seemed as if by interacting with the characters and their story, and the really brilliant protagonists, we understand what we always knew, but sometimes forget, that the only one way to deal with disasters is with faith/ hope and courage; Joseph more than once refers to the importance of hope.
Joseph also speaks about joy and love, 'you are my heart', 'you are my joy', both of which I firmly believe in, and which from time to time appear in my stories.
So did I have a breakthrough as a result of my journey with Joseph's characters, their philosophy, their brand of magic? Well something happened. It occurred while reading Dancing in the Rain. I have never doubted the power of stories, the power of books. I gave thanks for the power of this story.
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