As an educator who uses the Common Core State Standards as her curriculum bible, I am supposed to expose my students to a variety of written material. I am specifically instructed to divide those text experiences between nonfiction and fiction, allocating 55% of the text used in class to the first and 45% to the latter. I get a little help from my social studies and science co-workers who teach with primarily nonfiction text, and that helps to balance out the scales. For the most part, we make it work.
I do not, however, follow those regimens with my own personal reading. Aside from dabbling with National Geographic during my weekly trips to the library with my students and an occasional article on Facebook, I am a strictly fiction kind of girl. Why would I spend my free time reading about reality? I LIVE in reality every day, all day. No, give me something fantastical that will sweep me away and give me a break from real life. That’s what I want to read.
So I find it kind of odd that the last four, maybe five books I have purchased or been gifted have been nonfiction. Where is this sudden draw to reality coming from? I’m not entirely sure, but I think as I travel further down the road to full-author-dom, I am trying to glean any advice, vicarious life experience, and wisdom I can. When I read Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner, I got all of that… and more.
The blurb describes this book as “hilarious and moving, a book about yearning and fulfillment, loss and love, and a woman who searched for her place in the world and found it as a storyteller.” This book is about not fitting in and about finding your own path. It is about balancing the responsibilities of motherhood with the ambitions of your soul. It is about the value of words and why some seem to “count” more than others. This book was funny, honest, thoughtful, inspiring, encouraging, and reflective (both of the author and of myself). It is nonfiction and I loved every single bit of it.
When I was growing up I debated between a career in writing and one in education. I chose education because it was KNOWN. I knew teachers. I knew what their life and their salary, their schedule and expectations… I knew what all of that looked like. I couldn’t say the same for an author, or even more generally, a writer. I wish this book were around when I was 18, so that I could learn, authors come from all walks of life. Anyone, who is willing to work hard enough and have a healthy level of stick-to-it-ive-ness, can be an author. Thank you Jennifer for teaching me that lesson now.
Jennifer Weiner is a champion of words. A champion of women. A champion of the underdogs, underappreciated and undervalued. And I will vote for her, shout out her praises, buy her books and validate her work, every single time I get the chance.
Here are a few of my favorite lines from the book.
“Book were a series of magic carpets, each one with the power to deliver me to another, better place.” (p. 32
“I want to toss the book like a like buoy to those girls and women, and to the girl I had been, and tell them, Hold on to this, and I promise you, it’ll be alright.” - p. 182
“Every time you judge another woman’s appearance, an angel gets a gallstone.” - p. 251
So whether you are a nonfiction junkie or a fiction fanatic,
an aspiring author or neck deep in a different career field,
if you are craving a truthful tale or an escape into someone else’s reality,
whether you have no children or ten,
if you need a cheerleader or want to be one,