I don't usually write movie reviews.
But after watching The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society last night, I feel like I have to get this out and encourage all readers and writers to watch it as soon as possible (or read the book, which, surprise, surprise, I hear is better. I didn't realize there was a book before watching the movie or I would undoubtedly have read it first. I'm correcting that omission very soon).
Here are some straight talk reasons you should (I'll get to the good stuff soon):
- It's charming and quaint.
- The scenery is breathtaking.
- The story line is heartbreaking.
- The redemption is beautiful.
- The characters are broken and deal with levels of brokenness few of us have lived through, but should strive to remember.
All the things a movie needs, it has.
But those aren't the reasons I want you to watch it. I'm not talking now to every day people who love movies to tell them about another one to add to their list. I'd like to spend a few minutes talking to my people about why they need to watch it: readers and writers. My people.
In the movie, our female star, Juliet Ashton, says this about books, "They saved me." When I heard those words a flood of emotions welled up in my soul and I knew that I was known. Our Juliet is a writer, and a passionate lover of words. She also happens to have lost both of her parents in WWII, so when she travels to the Island of Guernsey, compelled to meet other people who have been saved by books, she understands a piece of their great loss. Guernsey was not only attacked by Germany, but lived under its harsh rule for years before being freed. The main characters in the story have all lost something and someone precious to them, some characters more than one. They've lost pieces of themselves, and the passion for words—gathering around a common theme and discussing it—restores the piece of their humanity that died when Germany landed on their beautiful island.
I didn't live through the atrocities of WWII. I haven't had to send my children away for multiple years in order to protect them from evil. But I have lost. And in every major loss or life circumstance I have read. A lot.
Through rough patches in childhood, I read.
Through painful break-ups, I read.
When I didn't know how to be the mom of a newborn, I read.
When my uncles, grandmother, grandfather, and aunt passed away in rapid fire succession, I read.
When we lost our baby, I read.
I don't just mean I read a blog post, or a short story...I mean I read 5-6 books at a time in a matter of days. When I was struggling hard with my firstborn, my mom did the very best thing a mom could ever do—she brought me a bag of books. Every week. Every week, a new bag of books. And I read them all.
When we suffered a miscarriage, my parents took our boys for a weekend and I downloaded at least eight books in a series to my Kindle and read them all. Long books. And I had read 4-5 the week before sitting on the beach trying to process what was coming.
My precious husband, who hates to read, doesn't understand, and I know there are others who can't quite grasp why people like me love to read.
It's because books save me.
I mean no disrespect to my Jesus, Who quite literally saved me (and maybe it would be better to say books heal me), but apart from salvation, one of His greatest gifts to me has been books. Words. A passion to see the world through someone else's eyes and be changed by the new perspective.
And now, I'm a writer.
It occurred to me this morning that after spending so many years in a deep, committed relationship with words...after sitting on the hillside behind my parents' home dreaming of being a writer one day...after grief finally pushed the words up through my heart and out on the page like a geyser that couldn't be stopped...God was preparing me all that time to offer others the same comfort I'd been given.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ" 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.
I'm not a fiction writer, although that's what I always thought I would be. I don't tell grand, sweeping stories of loss that paint a vivid picture of redemption and forgiveness through characters that bring them to life. But I do write about A Grand, Sweeping Story of Redemption and Forgiveness, and One Main Character Who brought me life. And I know that the words God gives me the privilege of writing are meant for someone's comfort...maybe even just mine.