the Little Women & My Sister

me and sharonI don’t remember what my favorite book was when I was a child. I know I enjoyed every Nancy Drew ever written. I had a couple of “classic collections.” I found Stephen King when I was twelve; mostly because his books were insanely long. As I got older, I realized Stephen King was a master at giving his readers no choice but to join the story through their own imaginations using the picture he paints as a canvas. When Tom Clancy’s books came into my radar, I read every one of those – again, because they were insanely long.

The best pleasure reads are those that suck you in at some point during the first chapter. At least for most people. Not for me. I gravitate to books that are difficult to get into. The first third of the book is “set design.” You get bits of the plot, but mostly you get character develop and set development – this is what ignites my imagination.

But I regress.

I never got into the “Anne of Green Gables” or “Girl of the Limberlost,” as some of my peers did. My sister read every one of the “Anne of Green Gables” but not me…at least not until my early twenties. I scoffed at these wispy little books, about a wispy little girl who probably would have been played by Laura Ingells Wilder…UGH!

And then it happened!

My dear sister gave me a book for either Christmas or my Birthday the year I turned twenty-one. I lived in Norfolk, Virginia; she was in San Antonio, Texas; both of us in the military. The book was inscribed with –little women2

“To my Jo – the bond between these sisters is eternal and rich. I’m glad we are the same. May you always be happy and may life treat you well. Your little sister is behind you all the way! “…for I’m sure I shall be your Beth still to love and help you more than ever.” (page 545) Love always,’Beth'”

I was intrigued! My sister gave me a book she’d read several times as a child, and I’d made fun of her for the girly-ness of the book. She’d brilliantly inscribed it with reference to the bond between sisters, calling me ‘Jo’ and herself ‘Beth’ knowing that’d I’d remember scoffing at her; and knowing my curiosity would be peaked. What a brilliantly cunning sister I have!

The “Little Women” won my heart. As I do most books, I read it in a week. I adored my own sister for finding a way to get this book on my bookshelf. I read this book three times that year. And over time, I realized my little sister had introduced me to my first favorite book of childhood memories. She had given me a gift that has continued to enrich my soul during this first decade of ownership.

I’ve read this book over two days; I’ve read it over two months. Each time I pick it up, I read the inscription; and as I begin the preface, I find myself transforming to a place where I feel closer to my sister. I visit that place where she and I are still children, where nothing in the world matters…. except our sisterhood.

Occasionally, we run across a book that we can relate to. Sometimes its the story, sometimes its one character. Of all the books that have come and gone from my bookshelf, this is the only book that I have truly ever cherished. This fabulous book is a reminder of how I feel when my sister and I are together. “Little Women” is the lifeline to my sister, and everything that is good in the world when she’s around!

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