For Christmas the year I was fourteen, my parents gave me a book whose dedication read, for anyone who has ever stood alone on a hill in a storm and for the first time, I cried over the written word.
In the pages that followed, I found out what it is like to really fall in love with a story; to lose yourself so much between two paperback covers that you forget to eat, put off sleep, and become irrationally snappy with anyone from the outside world who interrupts the conversation between you and your characters.
It was one of those books written so well I felt like it was written for me, specifically, at that time. The main character was the woman I wanted to become; the love interest, Jack Elliot, was the man I wanted to spend my life with.
More than that, though, the book was so well done, the story so well crafted that I felt like I was staring straight into the heart of a renowned oil painting. The book did one of the best things it can ever do, which was to inspire me. I looked at the beautifully arranged sentences and heart racing plot and thought, I want to do that too. The book reawakened for me the dream I scribbled down on the “All About Me” page the second day of first grade: When I grow up, I want to be an author.
The book was titled These Is My Words, written by Nancy E. Turner.
I have read and re-read These Is My Words so much that the spine has been ducked taped twice and the pages themselves are beginning to disintegrate in my hands. The book, like any good book, helped to shape the way I view the world. It has helped me put an order to grief and suffering, and it has helped me understand what love looks like. I recommend it to everyone I meet, and I decided Andrew was the one when he brought me this rose bush.
In the years that followed, my parents bought me Nancy’s other books: The Star Garden, Sarah’s Quilt, The Water and the Blood. They were all completely beautiful and I cried every time I received something she wrote, because her writing had come to mean so much to me.
I wonder then, if you can imagine exactly what it meant to receive Nancy’s new book, My Name is Resolute, from Andrew, my very own Jack Elliot, this Christmas. And, not only to receive the book, but to open it up and find, in Nancy’s writing, this inscription:
A Gift Orchestrated by Andrew
Taped to the inside cover of the book was a handwritten letter from the woman who made me remember I love to write, Nancy E. Turner herself. She wrote me a beautiful note, encouraging me to pursue my dream, telling me that words are the most powerful and lasting things we can leave. If I ever had any doubt that the author is every bit as thoughtful and kind as the characters she brings to life, I will question no longer. It is a gift I will treasure.
The book itself was a joy to read, a novel about pirates, the beginnings of the American Revolution, and a woman, Resolute, as stubborn and sturdy as her name. I thoroughly enjoyed each page, and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a heartfelt, thrilling account of a woman’s life.
The book sits now in a prominent location on my bookshelf, next to These is My Words and Nancy’s other books. I am beyond amazed to have a letter from my favorite author, but, more than that, to have married a man who knew that a gift like this would be more dear to me than any expensive clothes or jewelry. That act of thoughtfulness etched itself deeper in my heart than the written word ever could.