Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Transformations: What a Girl Can Do When She Goes Out of Her Comfort-Zone

Hi Mrs. B.,

I just finished reading an excellent book which actually put me in mind of another excellent book. The point of both was the idea of transformation. That how we see ourselves and how others see us can be changed without us even realizing it's happening. 

Take, for example, the book Pigs Don't Fly. It is a fantasy novel told from the point of view of a girl who has lived her whole life as the town pariah. Her mother is the town prostitute and she never met her father, a man, her mother tells her, came one night in the dead of winter and was gone before the snows melted, killed by an angry mob. He left her only a ring of unicorn horn and her name. She grows up thinking that there's very little to recommend her to others except the skills her mother insisted she learn, since she would never turn into a great beauty. When her mother dies, she embarks on a journey since she can't stay in the village she grew up in, meets several wise animals and a beautiful blind knight with amnesia along the way and finds that she's stronger than she knew, and certainly not the girl her mother thought she'd raised. She also comes to find that beauty - or ugliness -  is only skin deep, both in herself and in her traveling companions, among which being a pig with wings, a pig who himself, isn't what he seems.

The more recent read, A Girl of Fire and Thorns, follows Elisa, who only knows she's meant to become something important and do a great service for her people and her god. She's a princess and the younger child. She doesn't seem like a hero, she's not tall or graceful or strong like her sister, but over the course of her journey, she changes. She finds the fire and the hero within herself and undergoes a transformation of her own into someone amazing. She finds that she is amazing and more than worthy of the blessing she's been given, no matter what she'd thought all of her life.

This book was fantastic.

And it's only the first book. I can't wait for the second.

I think many of us -- myself included -- have had that feeling of being the odd one, the awkward one. Uncomfortable in your own skin. Not the pretty one. Not the smart one. Not even the clever one. To be honest, many of the characters that got me through my younger years were ones that helped me feel like I could be transformed, that I could change from my gawky, squalling, and awkward self into someone who could take on the world, someone who was meant for something greater. If A Girl of Fire and Thorns had been published when I was younger, it would have been one of my favorites -- dogeared and revered. Even now, it'll have a place of pride on my shelf, up near McGuire books, now that I've finished reading it.

I would recommend A Girl of Fire and Thorns to anyone. Pigs Don't Fly is 18 and up for some adult themes.

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