I'm 22 now. It's been a decade, maybe more, since I first read this book and I'll admit that I was a little worried going into this reread. There's the fear of what if I don't love it like I used to? What I don't see what was so brilliant about it? What if I've outgrown this book that impacted me so much?
Luckily, this book is just as wonderful as I remembered it and reading it as an adult gave me an additional perspective. Not only did I see what I loved about it as a kid, but I also saw the little ways this book has influenced and stayed with me throughout my life. There are small things, like the fact that even though I know the right phrase is "drop dead beautiful," I always think of it as "dead drop beautiful" and even though I know I'm messing the words up, I didn't quite know why. And then I reread Bloomability and saw that one of my favorite characters, Keisuke, says it like that. It's just one line but as soon as I read it the origin of how I got the phrase confused in my head clicked into place -- oh, so that's where it came from!
And then there are the bigger things: the week the characters learned about disaster (war, famine, refugees, diseases, storms) and it hit me, again and again, that I was so damn lucky to be alive and be safe and have a family that loved me. The thoughts on struggle were similarly captivating and even more influential -- when Dinnie's teacher tells her that struggle is what makes people interesting, I mulled it over in my head. And I have mulled it over, every so often, for so long, finally coming to the conclusion that it may not be struggle that makes a person interesting, but as long as you are struggling at something, as long as you are fighting that fight whether internally or externally, you haven't failed. You are still going. You haven't stopped, and that alone is a good thing.
Aside from the influence on my life, I just love the characters in this book. Dinnie, the outrageously optimistic (and awesome) Guthrie, Keisuke and Belen ("Romeo and Juliet"), and even stubborn Lila. As a kid it was so easy for me to slip into their world and as a (sort of) adult, it's similarly easy -- partly, I think, because of my connection with this book and partly because the book is just that good. I love it so much.
(One of my favorite quotes from the book):
Before our [final] English exam, [Mr. Bonner] told each of us, "Don't worry. You'll do fine," and it seemed as if he wasn't just referring to our exams. It seemed as if he meant forever, in our whole lives.Click here to see my rereading list, and here to read my intro to this year's rereading.