One of the reasons I grew up a passionate reader and book advocate is that my family encouraged it. My mom and dad read aloud to my siblings and me. Bookstore visits were a special treat after a job well done. My mother homeschooled me from 3rd through 8th grade (ages 9-14), and we visited our local library almost every day during that span. I always checked out the maximum amount of books allowed. I think that environment was absolutely ideal for growing a crop of readers (and thoughtful human beings!), and I’m thankful that my parents devoted so much time and energy to making that a reality. I know I was lucky and privileged.
Books can open your mind and your world. Along with being super-involved in my education, my parents were (and are) very religious. They fit that white evangelical voter profile. My beliefs and priorities have shifted over time (thanks in large part to reading a lot, and widely). They’ve doubled down. I watch and learn from people with different life experiences on social media. We’ve listened to different stories and sources. To keep the peace during my brief visits home, I often stayed silent (and I own that). It lead to a lot of tension, and on my part, a deepening resentment and sadness. When you think that your family won’t approve of your politics, it’s hard. When you believe that your politics will lead them to question your salvation… well.
This week I faced the fact that though I love my family, I haven’t been honest with them about who I am and what I believe in almost a decade. And that’s not okay. I’m in my thirties(!), and I feel way too old to hide anything. I had my most open conversation with them in years on Thursday. End result? I won’t be going home for the holidays. Silver lining: I freed myself of a long-hidden hurt, and I feel like I'm in a place to speak up without guilt. Even though this week has been awful in many ways, I hope I’ve grown a bit as a person. And I hope that I’ll be here, writing about books (especially diverse ones!) more often going forward.
Let me know if you’ve read anything amazing recently, ok?