So as I read this book I keep seeing Blue do what Ginny wants. He goes to school and stays (so far). He trudges along becoming a grudging tenant of a group home which will get three squares and a bed. He is just more accepting than my brain wants. “Nice book,” go my thoughts only to automatically add, “…but unrealistic.” Really? Maybe, but then again maybe not.
What has happened between Ginny and Blue so far? Well, Ginny has helped this lost child. Ginny really is interested in him. Blue sees that. You know what I think? He should listen. He should let her help. From there I even hope he will listen. We know it will be for his good and will set him on a good path. BUT! You know what my mind calls it when he does? Unrealistic. People just aren’t that way.
I am not alone in thinking this. Steel has even intertwined such people in this very book. Remember Becky and Charlene? That’s how they see it even though come at it from different directions. Both have given up on Blue. Ginny, though who has been run over by life, does not accept that people must be “that way.” I think I am more like Becky or Charlene, at least that is where my reflex is. So that is why I project it on this book.
I have recently read several books by Sinclair Lewis. In his books Main Street (1920) and Babbitt (1922) Lewis wrote of small city 20th Century American life. His style, though, was sardonic or as the dictionary puts it: grimly mocking and cynical. Preceding Lewis were those like Hamlin Garland and Theodore Dreiser who dimmed the idyllic views of 19th Century Americana into a far bleaker “Midwestern Realism.” There is a downside to their unhooking of our optimism. In some manner it was realism, but in other manners it was unpleasant, maybe even a little destructive. After America began digesting these books they got a tummy ache. The song that burped up was more like America the (not so) Beautiful.
Could it be that there are many people who lived in these eras who were not just cookie-cutter miserable but just have not had the equivalents of Sinclair Lewis to write of them? Maybe I just have not found those books yet or don’t gravitate toward them.
A book that helps me moderate the pessimism is Dicken’s classic Great Expectations. That book is certainly not the cheeriest of things, but rising from those pages are two characters who are important to me: Joe Gargery and Pip. Pip was always looking for the next thing. He was chasing, chasing, chasing. What about Joe? He was not chasing. He was realistic, but not hateful thereof. He was satisfied in his place and accepted it joining not a rat race of escapism. Perhaps to have the rat-race-life is to have a sham life (recall Miss Havisham?).