Sometimes we're in the mood to read something that's pure escape... something that will carry us away from our real life. And SPLINTERS definitely allowed us to leave our everyday world behind as we traveled to a Texas ranch and then to Manhattan for a while.
But in addition to carrying us away from our real life, SPLINTERS also carried us toward our real life. And a book that can do both of these things is a special book indeed.
You know, there's this thing about fictional characters that always interests me. I know they're creations of the author's imagination, but I always know I'm reading a special book when I start caring for them as if they were people in my real life. And while Brad and I were talking about the book, we discovered we were drawn to -- and identified with -- different characters.
We both cared very much for both main characters, but somehow whenever Duke was in the scene, I paid close attention to him (of course as seen through Al's eyes), and Brad paid close attention to Al (as seen through Al's own eyes).
Brad and I worked on this post together and wanted to share a little bit about what it made us think about. And for those of you who've read the book and related to something in it on a personal level, please feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section if you'd like.
Brad: I've written a good bit about my femme side and some of the internal conflicts I've had in fully embracing it. Over the past several years I feel very pleased and proud of myself for how I've started loving that about me.
While Matty was reading Splinters to me each night, he did this really wonderful thing with his voice. He tried to mimic the sound of each character's voice instead of reading each character in monotone. And whenever Al was on the scene, it was uncanny how much of my own real voice he put into Al's words and thoughts.
Needless to say, I loved hearing how Al always seemed so comfortable in his own skin, even when he was young. And there was the scene when his agent/manager Elsie talks about promoting him as a crossover model -- maybe sending him to the gym to pump up his muscles to have a more "masculine" look, as opposed to how they've played off his "feminine" look.
Al tells her, "That's just not me. I'd feel like a fake all over again." And we get to hear Al's internal voice as he reflects, "I was brilliant and secure playing up the feminine or teasing at it. It was disastrous trying to be more masculine because I kept hesitating to do anything while internally debating whether it was manly enough."
I LOVED seeing how Al embraced and totally owned who he was. And I loved his honesty when he said how fake he felt when he tried to "play" being more masculine than he felt. And his conviction to always live his life honoring his True Self.
I feel like I've made light-years of progress in embracing and being true to myself. And it was so exciting to see this character as a kind of fictional role model for how to be true to all of who I am.
Matt: Maybe opposites really do attract. I've always been much more aware of my "masculine" side than my "feminine" side. It's actually a little awkward to even describe it that way because I'm not sure it totally captures how I see things.
Whenever the character Duke was in the scene, I always found myself drawn to him. There was something about how comfortable he was in totally owning his "masculinity" while at the same time not shying away from his feminine side.
There was one incredibly sweet scene close to the end where Duke is helping one of his mares give birth. The only way I can describe how I was picturing Duke during this process was to see him as a "male mother." I just melted as he was coaxing Suzy Lee (awww). "Easy, girl. That's my sweet gal."
And the scene where Al finds out that Duke takes in the stray kittens... And his sister is explaining that, "...our sweet Duke got it in his head to gentle a whole passel of kittens, name every one of 'em, and... he bought a little pink brush for 'em!" Duke is a little embarrassed, but Al is thinking to himself, "...I'm dangerously close to falling for this big, gruff cowboy who pampers kittens."
Even though I don't have a "cowboy" look, or even a hyper-masculine physique, I still identify more with my masculinity than my feminine side. But it was so helpful and liberating to see this "big, gruff cowboy" pampering his kittens with "a little pink brush" and getting to see this really wonderful "male mother" helping his "sweet gal," Suzy Lee, give birth.
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So, what about you? Were there any characters in Splinters (main or secondary) that touched you in some special or personal way? Was it helpful to see characters who were similar to you -- different from you? Did the characters or the story change or enlarge your view of the world in any way? Are you changed in any way after reading this story -- more self-aware -- more aware of others?