The Green Book. I read it first in third grade, and promptly let it float away into the crevasses of memories past. That is, until I arrived in Oman. And suddenly, several months ago, I began to feel a gnawing urge to reread it - although at the time it was less a concrete book that I longed for so much as it was the idea I knew was contained within.
And so I reached out to one of the teachers I had in elementary school, someone who was with me during one of my most trying transitional periods of mental and emotional growth (skipping a grade and assimilating with my new environment proved to be a challenge), and within a few days received an email response with the name of the book. The Green Book, by Jill Paton Walsh.
Admittedly, it is very short. In many ways, it is childishly simple - designed more for my third grade mind than that of the high school junior I have now become. But it is also so much more. I have always had a love for books, for immersing myself into other realities and the distant lands they contain, but until recently I don't think I had a true appreciation for the pure value of literature.
That is what this story is about. To summarize, the plot follows a young girl and her family as they and a group of total strangers are evacuated from a collapsing Earth to a unknown planet. As part of their minimalist packing process, each person is allowed to bring one book. For her father, it is a large text detailing the craft of simple machinery. For her brother, it is Robinson Crusoe. And for Pattie, the youngest of them all, it is a small green journal.
Over the course of its 70 or so pages, The Green Book tells the story of a fledgling civilization struggling to survive in a harsh new environment. But it also tells, more subtly perhaps, the story of each person's longing for the simple beauty of the written word; a whole world wrapped up in each bundle of fragile pages. Because reading is an escape. Books are islands of calm in the oceans of discord and seas of confusion we surround ourselves with. Each story can last forever if we let it, living on in our minds and subconsciously opening them to new ideas - expanding our own worlds to meet those that we read about.
It was shocking to me to realize that this one book had stayed with me for so long (over half of my life, to put in into perspective). And admittedly, my recollection was not the best. I believe my thought process went something along the lines of "that book about the glass hexagons being made into flour". So no, I didn't even remember the most essential plot of the story. But when I went back and reread it, saw it through the eyes of a very different person than I was years ago, I picked up on much more than the plight of Pattie and her family that had so enthralled me before, and saw the deeper message about the the true value of literature and its importance in our culture.
🎶Eternal Flame - The Bangles🎶
Hi! My name is Karla Cox. This blog is a compilation of notes, thoughts, and photos from my travels around the world.