Completing the Circle

January 8, 2012 at 8:15 am (Book Commentary) (, , , , , )

We go back to the beginning. A girl child lost in the Land of Oz.

I’ve always liked reading book series; that is, a sequence of books that have certain characteristics in common and are formally identified together as a group.

It’s nice to pick up a book knowing that I am already familiar with the landscape and most of the characters. It means I don’t have to think as much. Sometimes I don’t want to think that much. Sometimes I just want to enjoy.

I read all of Frank L. Baum’s Oz books before I turned thirteen. I’m familiar with the movies, especially the Judy Garland version. If lost in Oz – I think I’d be able to find my way around (and even be able to get back home again without the use of Ruby slippers).

I went to see Wicked, this fall, when the witches came through town. I went with my friend (my Glinda – yes, I see myself as Elphaba). It was hard not to sing along. Though, I’ve read the book, the musical helped clarify things I had forgotten or not quite “got” when reading the book. My mind/memory takes things in in large chunks, in generalities. Not so with my friend, she can tell you minutia about the books she reads. She would remember the name of Nessarose’s love without cheating or rereading. I have to google.

For me, this first book in the Wicked Years series is all about friendship and loyalty.

Poor Elphaba ends up alone and friendless in Oz. Book one ends and the next takes up the story through her son. Son of a Witch (and we all know what rhymes with that word). Here is a boy trying to find his way to becoming a man hampered by a past he had no part in creating (his parent’s legacy). Thus we all grow up fighting against and learning to find our own place despite what our parents do and do not tell us.

A Lion Among Men is more political. Here is the cowardly Lion’s story; a tale of happenstance and fate. Sir Brrr, companion to the infamous Dorothy, shows how everyday acts shadow courage. Who are we when the stakes are unknown?  How do we atone for that which we had no control over? Do our acts or our reflections separate Animal from animal? Perhaps, it is better to live an unexamined life.

This brings me back to the beginning. A girl child lost in the Land of Oz.

I finished reading Out of Oz this weekend. This is a book that begins with the infamous Dorothy, shows us that Glinda is lucky rather than smart and that Oz suffers because of the quality of leadership its peoples’ allow. This tome is a tale of family and politics, of hope and love, of power and the consequence of both embracing and rejecting this power.

Out of Oz made me think about power, family, gender and love differently.

Oz, as usual, made me look at my world differently.

All maps are from here.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. (1 Corinthians 13:11)

It seems, perhaps, there is a joy in growing older.


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