Good writing is said to be fluid, melodious, and uses figurative language and other literary devices correctly without beating the life out of a work. Then there's good writing that moves you and swallows you up. Running Barefoot is not a book that you devour in one sitting, but one that you savor and slowly digest its beauty, page by page. It's a story that softly caresses you, gently rocks you, tickles you from head to toe, while plying butterfly kisses along the column of your neck; pulling out of you everything you have to give and more.
While growing up, listening to my grandmother tell me how she and my grandfather met never got old. Sent to the well with her older sister to draw a bucket of water, the sisters happened upon a young man watering some mules before he returned to plowing the fields. He took one look at my grandmother and told her, "I'm going to marry you," at which she looked at him and smiled. At the time, she was thirteen and he nineteen. Soon after the brief encounter, a courtship commenced. Following church every Sunday, my grandfather would visit my grandmother and eat dinner with her family. He even did a little sucking up to my great grandmother now and then by bringing her frog legs upon occasion. Known for her impatience, my grandfather returned from the Korean Conflict just in time to make good on his declaration before my grandmother married another man. Though my maternal grandparents' story doesn't exactly mirror Josie's and Samuel's, enough similarities exist to make this book even more special to me—forever embedded in my heart.
"Like a shoe that has lost its mate is never worn again, I had lost my matching part and didn't know how to run barefoot." Upon reading that sentence, I said to myself, "Yep, I think I've fallen head over heels in love with Amy Harmon!" Straight fangirling going on over here! :-)
So simple, but yet so profound, the powerfulness of that line kept drawing me back over and over again. After reading it multiple times, Running Barefoot wasn't just the title to me anymore; it took on a life of its own— acquiring new meaning each time I read it.
Running Barefoot has it all—developed characters, friendship, romance, books, book discussions, a wall of words, transformation, and most importantly authenticity—real emotions, real growth, real beliefs, real people—I could not ask for more in a book. Josie's honesty is raw, refreshing, completely befitting her passionate, introspective, and sensitive nature. Samuel, oh Samuel, you are now and forevermore my book
boyfriend husband. You, my dear Samuel, are a keeper and I plan to keep you. I loved Samuel's and Josie's thirst for knowledge. I loved how their search for self happened at different stages in their lives, but each journey brought them back to each other. Everything about this book I loved. There wasn't one thing that I didn't love about this book. If I had to name something, the editing could have been a bit tighter, however it by no means detracts from the story.
Books may entertain, enlighten, enrage, or provide an escape to another world or from your reality into someone else's reality, but then there are those that give you life—that breath and speak to you like no other. Boy, did this book ever speak to me! As I read, I was compelled to reflect on love, family, books, passion, and purpose. The more I read, the more the quiet questions rolled over me like waves. There were many places throughout the novel where I saw myself in Josie: the oddball sibling, always reading, the awkward 13-year old girl boarding a crowded school bus, in which most times we had to sit three to a seat, atypical thinking from my peers, having only one friend, comfortable in the quiet, and piano lessons (though I quit after a year, a decision that I've since come to regret). I read for the story, the life connections—how does this book speak of my life: past, present, and future—not to critique the craft. Of course, I cannot help but notice it as I read, but here both the craft and story are amazing.
Harmon writes with such a quiet beauty that is sings. I'm scared, anxious, terrified actually, but yet eager to read my next Amy Harmon book. It's universally known that the more you write the more you grow as a writer. As one of Harmon's earliest works, Running Barefoot had me floating on an emotional high. How will her later novels, evincing her growth and maturity as a writer affect me I wonder? If they make me feel half of what I felt reading this book...I'm going to be a total emotional wreck.
I started making a playlist of all the songs in the book. Of course, it would be going a lot better if I had done it while I was reading it, but breaking away from the book was just not something that I was willing to do at the time. Ah, Amy if only there was a live recording of "Samuel's Song." One can wish! :)
Below are a few of my favorites quotes. If I listed them all, I would end up retyping over half the book and this review would never end. LoL :)
- "Jane Eyre was like comfort food to me, and I was feeling a little rejected." (Absolutely love, love me some Jane Eyre!)
- "But you were so sad...and I felt the loneliness pouring off you when you put your arms around me, It was as wet as the rain, and I knew you were changed somehow."
- "There is a silent music in joy, and the music of that morning still makes my heart ache when I allow myself to revisit it."
- "You're like the tonic note. You're the note that all the other notes revolve around and gravitate to. You're home. Without you, the song just might not be a song, your family might not be a family...Who will step in and be the home base, the tonic note, if you go?"
- "We fell in love to Beethoven and Shakespeare."
- "Does he hear you, the way none of us can?"
Recommended E: For Everyone
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