August 17th, 2010


Question: Why AM I Still Reading?

Last week I finished listening to Beastly by Alex Flinn. I almost gave up on the story. If you know me, you know I hate giving up on stories. I subscribe to the fifty page rule: a book has fifty pages to convince me to finish it.  I typically continue with a story if I like one character or I like the words or I like the setting. I will find something redeeming.  But, I almost stopped listening to theCD's because ALL the characters, save the maid, were obnoxious and rude and insensitive and bigoted and  . . . just yuck.  I felt like I was trapped in a men's club with a bunch of angry, drunk uber-conservative Republicans who use hair products.  (If anyone reading this blog falls into that category . . . Who am I kidding? No one reading my blog falls into that category.)  Anywayz . . . 

I kept listening. Why?

Two reasons: 1) I had already given up on the August book club book, two pages shy of my rule and 2) I believed in Beastly. It was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, one of my favorite stories.  So I kept waiting for Kyle, the beast, to start his transformation. It didn't happen on disc one. Nope, not on disc two either.  My frustration was strangling me, my grip on hope started loosening.  Then it happened. Toward the end of disc three, I pulled into a parking space in front of my apartment and let the engine run. The air conditioner was turned on high, attempting to combat the 107 degree sun rays pouring through my windshield.  It failed. I was still sweating. I didn't care. I had to wait. I had to hear what was going to happen. And when I heard Kyle's sadness, I said, "Poor Kyle." The moment the words left my lips, I pressed into the seat. Had those words really slipped from my mouth? Two discs ago I had wanted to throw the character underneath an eighteen wheeler I was passing on the highway. One disc ago I had ranted to Beta Numera Una about how horrid the main character was and confessed my doubts about finishing. And there I was, sweating in my car, leaving my carbon imprint in the air, and feeling . . . empathy . . . for a jerk.  You remember that post I did about narcissism?( ) Well, Kyle met criteria.  Which meant in order for Kyle to transform, he had to face and reveal his insecurities.  The author let me see Kyle's insecurities and his true hopes and his true dreams.  It was not a smooth transformation. It was messy, with highs and lows, and laughs and almost tears.  In short, it followed a realistic trajectory. By the end of the story I was proud of Kyle. More importantly, I was impressed by Alex Flinn and her mad skills that had me hating her main character for approximately 80 pages and then singing his praises by the end.  It was risky. VERY risky. I suspect I would have given up on the book, if I would have read the story.

So it got me wondering . . . Have read a book you almost gave up on but pushed through? What made you stick with the story?  And did it deliver?