Samuel Johnson once said “a book should teach you to enjoy life or to endure it.” The two parts of this sentence work together to create a beautiful and, as I have discovered through reading a book I could particularly relate to, true statement. The beginning of the quote, “book should teach you,” is true in and of itself. Any book or story, regardless of your opinion on it, is able to teach the reader a lesson. Many books lack creativity and writing skill, however a reader is still able to learn from these books, even if the lesson learned is how not to write. In the other half of the sentence, Samuel Johnson uses the words “enjoy” and “endure,” and although the two words are contradictory, a book can teach the reader both how to enjoy and how endure. A book does so by being the perfect combination of sweet and sour; of joy and pain. Johnson’s words lead me to the conclusion that a book is a tool to help you along in life. The book, What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen, which I read this past summer, taught me to let go of my anger and frustration in order to move forward. It helped me endure the pain in my life, and therefore make those painful moments less painful and more enjoyable.
The book What Happened to Goodbye is a story of pain, change, and forgiveness. Mclean, the main character, watches her perfect world shatter when her parents get divorced and she is forced to say goodbye to the only life she knows. Mclean has difficulty forgiving her mother for leaving her father, and the distance between them presents itself as an obstacle. She holds onto her anger towards her mother, and because she does not try to work through her anger, those feelings prevent her from fully enjoying her life. In an attempt to start over and forget the first sixteen years of her life, Mclean moves away from her hometown. However, leaving behind her old life does not help her resolve her pain and anger.
At last, Mclean slowly begins to reestablish her relationship with her mother and bring it back to the place it used to be. She spends time with her mom, and realizes that she is able to enjoy herself more by letting go of her frustration towards her mother. Although it is difficult for Mclean to endure the pain of forgiving her mother, once she does so her life is more enjoyable. In the end, Mclean is able to break down the barrier between her and her mother.
In early May the year I was in fifth grade my glimmering, perfect world came crashing down. It fell harder than a brick skyscraper, and all the bricks fell on top of me. They bruised every inch of my body inside and out. Unfortunately the crash was so tremendous and surprising, so utterly shocking, that it took a long time for me to recover. I am speaking of the night I discovered that my parents were separating. This was not a particularly ugly divorce and my parents still remain the best of friends, however it hit me hard because it was the last thing I expected to happen to my family. Soon after my parents announced they were separating, tension formed between my mom and I. I felt that she was responsible for that glorious skyscraper tumbling down. In addition to that, I also developed anger towards her, because of certain events that followed their divorce. I swore I would never be able to forgive her and I clung to my anger, refusing to let it go. My anger held me back from moving on from the shock and pain of my parents’ separation, as well as arguments between my mom and I. Over the past year I have begun to let go of my anger towards my mom. It is a painful experience, however with each step I take life becomes a little easier; a little more enjoyable.
The story of Mclean overcoming her anger taught me how to enjoy life more and how to endure it. Similarly to Mclean, I blamed my parents’ separation on my mom, largely because she promised to never divorce my dad. Although it took me only a short time to forgive my mom for separating from my dad, it took me months to forgive her for other events that arose because of initial anger from the weeks following the divorce. The process of forgiving her is a painful one, and I am still in that process. What Happened to Goodbye helped me realize the importance of forgiveness. Prior to reading the novel, I had discovered that holding onto my anger was preventing me from moving forward and pushing through this obstacle that had formed between my mom and I. However, the novel further emphasized that the only way for me to overcome this obstacle was to release my anger. Even now as I am writing this, I am starting to understand that one can only begin to forgive once one has let go of any anger.
I began this essay with the quote “a book should teach you to enjoy life or to endure it.” In my opinion, it is a beautiful, well written, thought out sentence. This sentence was my guide, and furthermore the inspiration for my essay. I explored its depth and meaning by relating it to a novel I read and my own personal experience. In connecting the three elements of the book, the quote, and my personal experience, I found a common thread. I shared a similar struggle with the main character in my novel, and the quote is the key as to how to learn how to resolve the struggle. This quote states that a book teaches the reader to either enjoy or to endure. However, in my case, I learned both how to enjoy and endure, a truly beneficial life lesson.
Age 13, Grade 8