Bonding through Books by Amy

“Mom, I need something new to read”. My heart leapt…could this be it? Could this be the day I’ve waited and hoped for since the day she was born?

Okay, it really wasn’t quite that dramatic. There is a special thrill, though, to realizing that your child is finally old enough to read your favorite books…and actually understand the nuances, appreciate the writing, and fall in love with the main character, just as you have. It takes a special approach, though…too eager and you frighten them, not enough enthusiasm and they forget it. The soft pitch is best. “Here, honey, I think you might like this one. It’s kind of fun”.

And then you wait….hoping for that first sign that she likes it….and trying very hard not to ask.

One daughter reported over the course of a week how much she was enjoying the one I recommended to her (which I won’t name, since I give away the end). We talked about the funny parts, the characters, the incredibly inventive plot. And then, the phone call—at midnight. “Mom, how could you!!! He dies!! That’s horrible!! How could you do this to me?” Pause. “Does he have more books?” LOL.

I tried the soft pitch to my younger daughter with Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkisigan series. In my humble opinion, it is clearly the best sociological/political/military/technological science fiction series ever written. Starting with Shards of Honor, it follows first the adventure and courtship (they are nearly the same) of Cordelia Naismith and Aral Vorkisigan, who are from disparate cultures to say the least. The rest follow the life of their son Miles, a physically deformed but brilliant military strategist, who at 15 takes over and runs a mercenary fleet. One of the best things about the series is that Miles grows and changes through the course of the books. A dinner scene in A Civil Campaign, which follows his courtship of Ekaterin, may be the funniest thing I’ve ever read. I’ve read the series through several times just to set the mood for that one scene!

The characters are fascinating and memorable, and the plotlines deal with politics, cultural differences, adventure, mystery, romance, all in an easily visualized future. Tradition vs. technology, galactic ideas vs. hometown values, duty to family and crown over duty to one’s self.

Did I mention it’s my favorite series ever?

I worried that the worn and yellowed paperback would turn her off or that the unfamiliar terms would lessen her enjoyment. That maybe she wasn’t quite ready for the challenging moral dilemmas or more adult cultural references. Instead, she devoured it, the whole series. We had conversations about morals, relationships, gender identity, and cloning. Turns out, it was the day I’d been waiting for!

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