When people ask me what my favorite book or movie is, I usually can’t rank one above all the others.
With movies, it is because the movies I watch vary greatly across several genres. And also, there isn’t one movie that I am absolutely gaga over. (TV shows fit more into my obsession tastes.) Would I say Jurassic Park or Sweet Home Alabama top the list? Sure. But if you stopped by last week, you will know that I finally decided on “Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael” as my all-time favorite movie.
With books, I could easily name my two favorite series of books: The Twilight Saga, by Stephenie Meyer and The Fearless series, by Francine Pascal. Out of those series, New Moon would be my favorite Twilight book (for the heart-aching way Bella tortures herself on the flight back to the United States from Italy, soaking up all the Edward time she can, knowing (thinking) he will abandon her again upon their arrival.). #19 Twins would be my favorite Fearless book. It contains the few heavenly minutes of afterglow following Gaia and Ed having sex, before the world starts to fall in on them again.
But, my favorite stand alone book has probably been the same since 2nd grade. I am not ashamed (OK, maybe a little) to tell you that my favorite book is Safe As The Grave by Caroline B. Cooney, a Weekly Reader book, published in 1979. It was given to me by my second grade teacher, Mrs. Raines*. (A lovely woman who still recognizes me when I see her.) She picked out a different book for each student in the class. I like to think that she tried to suit them to our individual personalities. Safe As The Grave definitely has kept my interest all these years.
It is a mystery (I HAVE always been fond of Scooby Doo) centering around two 11 year old twin sisters, a missing bejeweled church cross, a dead ancestor, and lots of poison ivy. It is a quick read at only 48 pages.
What does it say about me that I want to be a writer, and my favorite book is only 48 pages long?
[I think it says that I like a story that is very succinct, to the point. That is also my writing style.]
But it also has pictures! I think the pictures add to the story. I love the blue of the cover. I loved that the main character’s name is Lynn. I love that name, mostly because I always wished Lynn was my middle name. Instead, my mom had to go off and be all original (FYI–I hate my middle name. And no, I am NOT going to tell you what it is!). I think I loved reading about the sisters interactions and bickering because I was an only child. Everything I learned about twin sister relationships I learned from Safe As The Grave and Sweet Valley High books. Any time I had an imaginary family when I was a child, it would have lots of siblings.
“Lynn, who was grubby and didn’t have on matching socks…” p.15
I also loved Lynn’s curious nature. Which, I did not particularly have at that age. Her instinct was to NOT DO as she was told. But I could experience that vicariously through her.
That is what reading is all about!
I also liked that it took place in a (family) cemetery. Because my dad died before I was born, I spent more time than the average kid riding in the car through the cemetery. Probably like five times a week my mom would drive us through. I wonder now if she did that so that he would be in my life in some way. Or maybe she just missed him. Or maybe she just wished she had some backup for raising a kid all by herself. (She has always said that if my dad had lived, they would have gotten divorced anyway. Talk about crushing a small child’s impossible dreams! I told you she was negative!)
I love the morale of the story, that a young girl can solve a mystery that no one else in town has been able to solve in 100 years. It illustrates that kids can come up with original ideas that maybe adults would never thing of, because they haven’t lost the ability to tap into their full imagination, which seems to happen at puberty.
Hey, that reminds me of another movie I like which illustrates the same principle, “Radio Flyer”. Wait. Maybe it isn’t appropriate to say that a movie featuring gratuitous child abuse is one of my favorites. OK, I like everything about that movie except the child abuse. And the bullying.
* CHARMING TIDBIT ABOUT DEAR MRS. RAINES: She never fills up her gas tank before it gets to E, and usually only 20 miles after that. I learned that working at the local gas station 😉
Thank you for the book, Mrs. Raines. I just reread it today. And, it is so short, I could reread it again!