It’s February – you can’t walk three feet without a storefront glinting with pink and silver foil hearts, chocolates, cupids. Love. Love. Love. Everywhere. It’s kind of nice, actually.
Reminds us that we’re surrounded by love in so many forms. I sifted through many books with the more obvious theme of romantic love before deciding to look at love in three varying forms. The following three reads for this month each have love as their underlying theme, whether it’s the love that cements a friendship willing to cross oceans, or a parental love that pushes moral boundaries, or, in a wonderful metafictional work, the underlying love of words and stories that drives a book lover to read in the first place.
The Girl and the Elephant by Nicole de Cock
In this simply told, beautifully drawn picture book, there is a little girl who especially loves the elephant at a zoo. And this elephant loves her back. They play “girl games” and they play “elephant games” and their love runs deep. However, one day the zoo moves the elephant back to Africa. With the help of some other animal friends, the girl crosses a great ocean to find her friend. Nicole de Cock’s lovely tale chronicles that pure, simple love a child and an animal have for each other and the joy that results in that bond.
2. Young Adult:
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
In a dystopian future, young Jenna Fox wakes up from a terrible accident not sure of her world or surroundings. She has moved far from her home and her parents are taking great pains to shield her from her past. She remembers very little and it is only through the home movies of herself that her parents have her watch that Jenna starts to piece her childhood back together. This book is futuristic, a bit creepy, and an interesting look at parental love, at the lengths to which parents will go for the child they adore. My teenage students love it. So do I.
3. Literary Fiction:
How to Buy A Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson
This wonderful, intricate novel presents a prism of love; every type of love – romantic, parental, platonic, literary – gets streamed through the prism of Egan Gibson’s smart metafictional structure and her razor sharp and yet still inherently lovely prose. HTBALOR follows Carly Wells as her wealthy parents attempt to keep up with their elite Fox Glen neighborhood by throwing their unhappy daughter a sixteenth birthday party that she (and, more importantly for them, everyone else) will never forget. Carly has never met a book she likes so her misguided parents “buy” her an author who will write a book to her specifications, a book she will “present” to her peers at her party, a book for her to love. A brilliant concept, sure, but this novel is much more than a concept; it delves into the nature of why we read, why we need to love and be loved, and why stories can ultimately save us.