Along Highway 40 in Santa Rosa, New Mexico is a Super 8 motel where I stayed last week. Across the street is a park and this statue of author Rudolfo Anaya. He’s seated, surrounded by books.
In October 2006, I took a temporary teaching assignment. The sophomore class was on its fourth teacher; I filled in as their fifth. The previous substitute had started Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima with them. The students were wild with the frustration of inconsistency, confusion and lost time. They had little patience for a story about the slow wisdom of listening, the truths of the heart. I wish I had known then a little about the area where the story is set. How creeks host blackbirds and dragonflies, rare sunflowers surprise along roadsides and bats swoop over lakes at dusk, hunting mosquitoes.
After limping through Bless Me, Ultima, the teens and I bonded around William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. After comparing the events in the two books, the students ended up learning, I hope, a little about other people and themselves, how stories work.
Prompt: Take a moment to acknowledge the mysterious timeliness of books, how they hit or miss depending on moods and circumstances. Recommend a book to someone today.