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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Wish

wish200I did not grow up in the south, but my par­ents did, so I like to claim a lit­tle south­ern her­itage. When my kids were younger, I loved read­ing them books set in the south—willing into their souls the humid­i­ty, bar­be­cue, iced tea with lemon, and accents that have the rhythm of rock­ing chairs found on great big porch­es. They enjoyed hear­ing how my grand­par­ents called me “Sug­ar,” and I felt it vital­ly impor­tant they under­stand that Mis­souri peach­es just might be bet­ter than the famed Geor­gia peach­es. (It’s true–no offense to Geor­gia.)

I’m a big fan of Bar­bara O’Connor’s novels—whether they’re explic­it­ly set in the south or not they feel south­ern, and when I pick them up I know I will enjoy them. So as soon as I heard her lat­est book, Wish, was com­ing out, I put a reserve on it at the library, where it was already ordered for when it came out months down the road. This is my sys­tem so I don’t for­get about great books com­ing out. (Which sel­dom happens—for the real­ly great books, anyway—but maybe that’s because I use this sys­tem, who knows?)

By the time the library noti­fied me my copy was in, I’d already bought the book and read and loved it. So I pulled my reserved copy off the hold shelves and went to the check-out desk to let them know I didn’t need it any­more. I took my place in line behind a lit­tle girl stand­ing with her moth­er. She was wear­ing a win­ter coat even though it was about six­ty degrees that day. Min­neso­ta had a love­ly extend­ed fall this year, which Min­nesotans were in awe of as we ran around in our short sleeves almost to Thanks­giv­ing, but new­com­ers still thought it was cold.

I heard the girl’s moth­er talk­ing to the librar­i­an. Her voice was a gen­tle rock­ing chair voice. They were sign­ing up for library cards. The girl stared at me, eye­ing me up and down. Some­what sus­pi­cious­ly, per­haps. Maybe it was my short sleeves.

She looked at Wish, which I was hold­ing down by my side. “Is that book about a dawg?” she asked, tilt­ing her head the same way as the book.

There’s a dog in it, yes. His name is Wish­bone,” I said, point­ing to the beagly look­ing dog on the cov­er.

What’s that girl’s name?” she asked point­ing to the girl on the cov­er with the dog.

Her name is Char­lie.”

That’s a boy’s name,” she fired back.

I hand­ed her the book because I could tell she want­ed to look at it straight on.

Her mama named her Charle­magne. She liked Char­lie bet­ter,” I said. “It’s a real­ly good book.”

What’sitabout?” she asked all in one word.

It’s about wishes…and friends…and home…and fam­i­ly. It’s about a girl liv­ing in a new place and she’s not sure if she likes it or not.”

Does any­thing bad hap­pen to that dawg?” she asked war­i­ly.

Nope,” I said.

She hand­ed the book back to me.

Maybe you’d like to read it?” I said. “I’m not check­ing it out, I’m return­ing it.” It was my turn at the library desk.

I explained to the library work­er that I didn’t need the book and asked if the lit­tle girl walk­ing toward the door with her moth­er could check it out instead. Alas, some­one was wait­ing for it, and things hap­pen in cer­tain order­ly ways at the library, so they couldn’t check it out to her. I decid­ed not to be irri­tat­ed by this and checked it out any­way since it was still tech­ni­cal­ly my turn.

I fol­lowed the girl and her moth­er out the door to the park­ing lot and gave them the book. I told them I bor­rowed it for them and I told the moth­er I thought she’d do a great job read­ing it out loud. I told the girl I thought she would enjoy it a lot. They both thanked me. The moth­er said, “Bless your heart!” about five times.

And my heart was blessed.

What if they don’t return it?” the library work­er said when I walked back in the library. “It’s checked out on your card.”

If they need to keep it, I’ll pay for it,” I said.

We’ll find out in a few weeks, I guess. But I’m not wor­ried.

9 Responses to Wish

  1. barbaraoconnorBarbara O'Connor December 1, 2016 at 1:57 pm #

    Wow. What a love­ly sto­ry. Bless your heart. 🙂 Thanks for shar­ing

    • Melanie December 1, 2016 at 9:04 pm #

      Thank YOU for the book, Bar­bara!

  2. peanutmark December 1, 2016 at 4:24 pm #

    Beau­ti­ful… like you. Thank you!

    • Melanie December 1, 2016 at 9:05 pm #

      Aw.…thanks! xoxo

  3. Lee Stokes Hilton December 1, 2016 at 5:05 pm #

    Mov­ing and won­der­ful. Your sto­ry and Barbara’s. Thank you for shar­ing.

    • Melanie December 1, 2016 at 9:05 pm #

      Thank you for reading–and your kind words.

  4. Merrilee Hindman December 1, 2016 at 7:14 pm #

    I love this! I often sug­gest books to adults and chil­dren when in a library or book­store. I too would have checked it out on my card and paid for it lat­er if nec­es­sary. If that book touch­es that child so much she needs to keep it, then by all means she should!!

    • Melanie December 1, 2016 at 9:06 pm #

      It’s awful­ly fun to do, isn’t it?

  5. Catherine Urdahl December 1, 2016 at 10:31 pm #

    And that’s how we send love into the world. Thanks for the beau­ti­ful sto­ry, Melanie!

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