A couple of months ago, I was contacted by TLC Book tours requesting my participation in an online Book Tour for one of their published authors. It sounded like fun, so I accepted.
“A Simple Thing” by Kathleen McClearly lay on my front steps three days later.
Ms. McCleary is a master painter of words. She interweaves the stories of her two protagonists (a generation apart) seamlessly. Flip-flopping back and forth across the decades, we travel right along with them as they journey through self discovery, healing and forgiveness.
However, as a mother of small children, there are certain subject matters I avoid reading, watching or listening to because of the way they settle under my skin, seep into my psyche and pull me through a nightmare of which my own children are the stars. Shivering and sweating, I end up heaped over the nearest toilet to vomit, wishing all memories of the story would flush with the rest.
I understand this is extreme, but I don’t think I sit completely alone with my difficulty in separating reality from fiction.
Especially when fiction becomes non-fiction for entirely too many on a daily basis.
That said, because of Ms. McCleary’s exquisite ability to draw the reader into her story, three-quarters of my way through the book, I found myself experiencing a full-fledged panic attack in the middle of New York Penn Station, twenty minutes before an audition.
With quick, shallow breaths, and sweat chilling my forehead, I found a bench near Track 4 to sit and await a grasp of reality to return.
Because of this, my first inclination was to advise anyone, who like myself feels the excruciating pain of others, like sharp pricks of a voodoo doll when it comes to horrific child-related events, to avoid this book.
Or maybe just that particular chapter.
But, not only did that seem impulsive and unfair, I couldn’t shake the sense that there was something deeper in all of this.
And it hit me.
That chapter cannot be skipped. It is the crux of the story and is written with that much weight and dis-ease for a good reason – not merely for shock value as in so much of today’s media. It is in these pages that we learn the gravity of our protagonist’s pain and the dire need to find forgiveness and love for herself.
The message of the entire novel.
So, as I continued to read through the pages of “A Simple Thing”, I realized that I had been standing back and admiring it from a distance, like a painting behind glass, instead of a three-dimensional hologram.
It seems that an honest artistic experience can often be the most uncomfortable, but in order to be truly moved by it, you have to get close enough to let it touch you.