What If...

I was recently talking to a friend about books and authors and as I thought about authors I love, Bess Streeter Aldrich immediately came to my mind. I'm sure that at some point in the future, I'll talk about other books by her (I think I've read them all), but today I want to talk about "Spring Came On Forever."

After recommending this book to my friend, I felt compelled to re-read it. I searched my bookshelves and found my well-worn copy. You see, I really love this book and this was probably my fourth or fifth time reading it. It's interesting how time and life experience can change your perspective on a book. I've loved it every time, but I see the experiences of Matthew and Amalia very differently now.

The first time I read it was in my teens and in my young, romantic mind, their lives were tragic--missed opportunities, lost love, disappointments--but I continued hoping as I read that things would end happily. And they do, but not in the way you might expect.

This time their romance is still tragic and sweet, but now I recognized the triumph of their lives in spite of the disappointments along the way. (Oh, it's hard to review a book completely and not spoil it for future readers!)

If there's one thing this book makes you think about, it is "what if..." We probably all have those "what if" thoughts. What if I'd gone a different way home and avoided a traffic ticket? What if I'd taken the other job offer and lived in a different city? What if I'd have married so-and-so instead? The "what ifs" we think about most often are probably the big ones.

Have you ever let your mind wander down one of those roads? Of course, we can't know exactly how things would have turned out down a different path. We can only imagine it and our fantasies probably idealize, romanticise or dramatize the end of those roads. Our imaginations probably create unrealistic happy endings or terrible catastrophes when in reality, those roads would probably be as normal and filled with ups and downs as the paths we did take that landed us exactly where we are.

But wouldn't it be interesting if we actually could look down those "what if" roads and see what they'd have held? When we choose a path, we choose a destination. I wonder if we could see those alternate destinations, would what we see cause us to feel longing and regret or would we be filled with gratitude and relief.

If you haven't read this book, I'd recommend it. I find Aldrich's writing beautiful and the story is sweet, tragic, and satisfying. My guess is, it will probably have you asking a few "what if" questions of your own.


Vicki said...

Karey, I LOVE reading the posts on your blog! I do find myself often wondering "what if" this or "what if" that. But that's probably normal. :-)

Rachael Anderson said...

What a beautiful blog! I love it!

Mindy said...

Interestingly enough, I recently re re re-read Bess Streeter Aldrich's A Lantern in Her Hand. I think I had a completely different perspective than when I had read it in the past, and found it VERY unsatisfying. It was nearly depressing for me, and I had remembered loving it so much the other times I had read it.

Oh, so many what-ifs. I agree with you, that most of the alternate paths would bring us to normal ups and downs, just as we have now. I try not to dwell too much on some choices that feel like wrong paths now in hindsight, but yes, I do think of those what-ifs sometimes.

Karey said...

Interesting that you found it depressing. I know what you mean. Abby was so unappreciated and her sacrifices so unacknowledged. But I think you'd find it more satisfying if you now read A White Bird Flying. It picks up with Abby's grand-daughter and I loved it. It gave more meaning to A Lantern in Her Hand and is actually really inspiring (to me, at least!)