I remember something my mama
used to say on dark days:
If you can talk, you can sing.
If you can walk, you can dance.
What goes into the making of a beautiful friendship? One that weathers the years, the miles, the busyness of everyday life. Is there a magic formula? If by magic, we mean time and work, and simply always showing up, then maybe. I do know there is a blueprint for what makes a once-in-a-lifetime friend: Tracy. She takes real joy in my triumphs, suffers right along beside me in my moments of deepest sadness, and always, always make me laugh. This world needs more of her. More of her fierce loyalty, her rock solid faith, her authentic kindness. Most of all, more of her light.
We are all drawn to light, aren't we? I know I am. And when I find it within the pages of a book, I can't share it fast enough. So here it is: Home of the Brave. Light in the form of fifth grader from Sudan named Kek—a refugee who knows that while hope is hard work, it is everything; a boy who "finds sun when the the sky is dark."
Kek has seen darker moments than most of us will ever see in a lifetime. Horrors our Western minds cannot comprehend. Still, he shines light. On an aunt who's been "carved down to a sharp stone by her luckless life;" a cousin who struggles to fit into a new world he's certain does not want him; a friend in foster care; a life-weary old woman trying to keep a rundown farm afloat; and a sad, sweet, worn out cow. This boy, who weeps the first time he enters a grocery store, overcome by its "answers to prayers on every shelf," struggles to accept what to him, weeks before, were unimaginable gifts: safe shelter, a desk of his own, a pencil to write with, and a pillow to rest his head on at night. He carries with him the burden of those who may never know such gifts.
This book is a gift. Read it with your children, read it alone. Read it. This weary world needs its light. In the Author's Note at the end, Katherine Applegate reminds us that we do not need to be a refugee to feel lost. "It happens because we are human, and because life has a way of changing the rules when we aren't looking." She continues:
"Fiction, it's been said, makes immigrants of us all. But it's just as true that fiction helps us find our place in the world. A good story well-told is a compass in your pocket. A map to home. A light, always glowing, in a dark or mysterious harbor."
Or in other words, a friend like Tracy.
Posted by Rachel