Confession: I cried, a lot, while reading this book. And it remembered me of why I loved reading so much back in high school; I can always connect/relate to the characters in the books I read and it was comforting because more than not, I felt like I didn't really connect with anyone in my own life. There are times in your life when someone says something to you or when you read something or hear something and you can instantly connect with what is being said and you can feel your whole body tingling with emotion.
"'Don't confuse guilt and shame,' she said. 'It's okay to feel badly about something you've done. But don't let it make you feel badly about who you are.'"
Like Susannah, one of the main characters, I also constantly worry about everything in life and what could go wrong (even when I have little to no control over what is happening). In the novel, she had a hard time moving on from the past and it haunted her up until the very end when she was finally able to let go and forgive herself after having a conversation with her mom over the phone about what happened when she was thirteen.
To me, this book was about self discovery, forgiveness, and letting go of your past - things I am currently working on. No one is perfect and I know that's been said over time and time again, but it's true. Accidents happen. And sometimes people make poor decisions, but that doesn't mean that we have to spend our whole lives punishing ourselves for it. It doesn't make you a bad person. You don't have to punish yourself for the rest of your life for it; it won't solve anything and it won't change the past.
"'Whether you want to admit it or not. I'll tell you, it's only when I learned to accept that I was a lot like my mother that I began to be happier. I suspect you'll find that to be true yourself. Our mothers are the most influential in making us who we are. As long as you regard your mother with distaste, it's not possible to view yourself charitably, with the kindness and self-acceptance so essential to personal happiness.'"
This novel touched a lot of nerves for me. I'll just leave it at that, before I end up writing a novel on how this novel made me feel. But it made me reflect a lot on my past and how essential it is that I forgive myself because I need peace in my life. I'm really glad I read this book; it's a great start to the new year, because it reminded me that I need to forgive myself and I need to not punish myself or blame myself for what happened in the past or what didn't happen. I need to practice self-acceptance, because truth to be told, I deserve and need a little peace and forgiveness in my life. And I need to not feel guilty about it.
I have a really good feeling about 2014.