I usually read The Seagulls Woke Me when I have just finished Greensleeves and cannot bear to leave it absolutely behind right away; they are both books about girls who get away from (or find?) themselves. The Seagulls Woke Me is a good transition from Greensleeves to, you know, regular life. It helps me to be less disappointed in other books. I am always pleased when I find a book that makes this nice transition for me. Tam Lin for Fire and Hemlock; Rebecca for Jane Eyre; if I ever find one for The Book Thief, that will be a good day.
(I just reread The Book Thief. Blown away once again by how good it is. I started it, and immediately went to find my mother to pester her to read it. “It’s not that sad,” I said. “It’s sad but it’s really great, and it’s not like, you know, it’s all sad at once, so you could still enjoy it most of the way through,” and then when I got to the place where it gets really sad (around when they start using the bomb shelters), I had to go back and tell her that no, actually, it is that sad, it is the saddest book in the whole world and I cry like a baby every time I read it. My little sister just read it and loved it, of course, though she also cried and cried.)
The Seagulls Woke Me is about a sixteen-year-old girl called Jean who is shy and socially awkward, and can never seem to say the right things, and her mother smothers her, and one day she goes off to spend the summer on a Maine island with her uncle and aunt. Where she finds herself a perfectly viable person, after all.
I like this sort of book because I like the idea that you can go off to a new place and be a better version of yourself. Greensleeves has a slightly harder time of it, but I suppose that’s because she dislikes herself more to start with. The Seagulls Woke Me is a gentle, peaceful sort of book – it’s set on a sea island, and it reminds me of the sea itself. Jean cuts her hair, and makes new friends, and learns to assess people with more – what? – acuity maybe? I don’t know. She grows up a lot over the course of the book without seeming too mature for sixteen, and when the book ends I always imagine good things for her future.
Do you have any books like this, that you enjoy reading straight away after another book? Do you enjoy books where people reinvent themselves? Any favorites you want to share?