I am just not the types who will read a book that has been read by someone else before me (also include touched by someone else other than the folks at the book store selling them). I love the feel of fresh, crisp, new pages and the fact that the book belongs to me. I think the second part of the last sentence gains priority over the first part simply because I am a book lover, a book collector and books mean the world to me. This obviously means that I am a spoilt brat but I look after my books and can’t stand dog-earing of pages and my endeared books being ruined in any way. And that’s why I am generally pretty averse to lending my books to anyone. Yes, I do understand sharing is important and so is passing on knowledge, but it’s a complete ‘no no’ when people disrespect and disregard books, and sometimes don’t even have the courtesy to return it (yes, I have faced such situations as well). So, all in all, these are reasons good enough for not hitting any library for continuing the pursuit of knowledge and pleasure. But life changes, right?The Long Road Home And To The Bibliotheca: Steele's book at the lib on a woman abused #womanpower Click To Tweet
For the fun of it and to explore the new city that we have moved into, my husband and I decided to look for a library. The idea delighted me though I was still not sure whether I would borrow a book and read it too (those are two different things, yes!). We managed to find the Atlanta Fulton Public Library – a library decently close to home, and hopped in and registered ourselves there. It is a good library where you could borrow upto 50 books a month for free. Now that was something unheard of, so I really got excited about it. Also, there were movie DVDs, magazines etc that you could borrow too. But let’s stick to the book part for now.
As is the case always, we are usually running late; thus we reached the library just a few minutes before closing time. And you know how time conscious people are here, so we had to hurry up. I was so thrilled about borrowing books all of a sudden, that I couldn’t really understand and get a grip of where to look for whatever it is that I was looking for. For I just wasn’t sure which book/s I was looking for! That not only reminded me of how many decades has passed since I went to a library, but also how lackadaisical I had become thanks to the likes of Crossword and Landmark, who made searching for books (that you were not even looking for) so much more easy. Nevertheless I decided to figure out what I was looking for and hit my favourite section – fiction. The better half was also busy figuring out what he wanted to borrow, thus I strolled into the fiction section with half my head tilted, because for the life of me I can’t read with my head straight. I love hard cover books and my eyes immediately fell upon one – Danielle Steel (DS) – The Long Road Home. Now! Who wants to be caught reading a DS book at this age and I don’t even remember when I last read one (which obviously means I have read quite a few DS books and most probably enjoyed them too; which explains the immediate recognition of the author’s name as well, ain’t it).
At an instinct I just picked it up, smelt it I think (don’t ask me why!!!) and moved to the table and chair a few feet away. Hard covered books are heavy already and think about large print hard covers at that! I sat down and rummaged through the book. Loved the name and hence decided to read the back cover, preface etc. It was un-put-down-able indeed. Tragic from the word go, I just couldn’t keep it away and have no idea when I started reading and how much I read in those few minutes. I thought I heard a voice calling out to me as I read but realised only when the voice also shook me slightly telling me that the place was about to close and we had to leave in five. Oh! The husband was back. I was so engrossed that it took me a minute to gather my bearings and I told him that I wanted to borrow that book. We hurried towards the counter and made it just before the sweet lady there was about to call it a day. Whoaa!! And I got my first library book!
I rarely write book reviews and this is not really a review – just a small description about the book and how it affected me. Danielle talks about three topics very close to my heart – children, child abuse and writing. The story is a very moving one where Gabbie – a beautiful child is abused by her own mother since she was three, simply because she is jealous of the pretty child; and beats her black and blue the moment she sees something going wrong in her life. The mother blames her for everything, with the father being the perpetual bystander who keeps witnessing his daughter getting tortured and abused but never gathers the courage to do anything about it. It is a tale of a harrowing 23 year long journey of a girl who was often told that she was very strong by people who were just about to leave her forever – her father, her beloved and the man who took away everything she possessed, under the pretext of love!
As a child, Gabbie’s world was that of terror, pain and betrayal and she knew that she had to hide her bruises; certain in her heart that she was the one to be blamed for her mother’s anger and her father’s failure to protect her. Her own house was the most dangerous place to be in and there was no safeguard against abuse that knew no boundaries. She had no place to hide, but finally found her only escape in writing stories, where she was free to fantasise and dream of a world sans abuses. She figured that writing could dull the pain of her desolate world.
Suddenly one night, after reminding her of how strong she was, her father disappears and with that her parents’ marriage collapses; for which she was blamed and battered again. As if that was not enough, her mother abandoned her to a convent. Sometimes they say everything happens for the best and the abandonment led to her first reprieve. The love that she received in safe peaceful world of the convent started mending her battered body and soul; and amid the quiet safety and hushed rituals of the nuns, Gabbie embarked into the beautiful journey of womanhood. Suddenly a young priest walked into her life through the confessional and the confessions gradually led to a deep friendship which later dangerously blossomed into love. But alas, the love gave way to tragedy as her beloved could not cope up with the fears of a life in the real world and commits suicide.
Gabbie gets exiled and disgraced, and nearly destroyed and yet she struggles to survive on her own in New York; in the real world that she had never ventured into. Once again she seeks healing and escape through her writing and that’s how her life gets meaning as a writer. Just when life starts looking up, she gets betrayed yet again by someone she trusted, and this time it seems beyond repair. Despite being physically attacked beyond recognition and belief, haunted by abuse in her present and her past, once again she manages to find hope and this time a renewed courage to face the past. And on the path that brings her face-to-face with those who had sought to destroy her, Gabbie finds forgiveness, freedom from guilt, and healing from abuse. It’s only when she courageously faces what was done to her, and why, she herself is free at last.
The Long Road Home is a melancholic story of an abused child’s broken world, and the necessary courage she finds in herself to face it and free herself from the hurt. It exposes the terror of child abuse, and opens the doors on a subject that affects us all. It is an inspirational book – one that talks about hope, courage, love, the power of forgiveness and a woman’s unbreakable spirit.
It is a must read for fiction lovers and for those who believe in the power of positivity, love and endurance, just as I do.
P.S. – I have become a regular visitor to the bibliotheca now… though I still prefer reading the new books that I buy! 😉