Title: The Summer of the Great-Grandmother (Crosswicks Journal Book Two)
Author: Madeleine L’Engle
I’ve been reading The Summer of the Great-Grandmother for nearly a month now. I read pieces and snippets in particular moods – moods when I need it: L’Engle’s wisdom and a bit of the outdoors.
But finally, last night, I turned the last page.
I finished and sat there a moment. My journal open, the book closed, my pen ready and not ready at the same time. Ready because I had a vision to capture in the ink. Not ready because it didn’t seem to me like a book review at all, but it’s what I have – my thoughts regarding this book.
I cannot help but think of Sandy Smith while I am reading it. L’Engle tells tales of her home life and mentally, for some reason or another, I picture Smith’s face rather than L’Engle’s. Perhaps it is because I’ve met Sandy, but L’Engle is a series of disjointed pictures from different decades that I have plucked from the internet. Sandy is flesh and blood to me, and L’Engle deserves to seem like flesh and blood in my mind. Flat internet images glowing with the unnatural light of an LED background do not do her justice. I hope Sandy doesn’t mind me stealing her image and loaning it to another in my mind.
It’s just that – in my mind, they belong together. They are joined by associations I may never be able to clearly express, but might be able to feebly make a fraction of sense of them here.
They are each writers and humans in their own right, but L’Engle’s writing seems to have the same aura of loveliness that I find in Sandy when talking to her in person. When I think of her, this soft spoken writer who traveled all the way from Oregon to Texas for a book signing tour, you’d think I’d remember the hours I spent with her in bookstores hanging out around tables of her young adult series Seed Savers. But I don’t.
Instead, I specifically recall looking back at her while walking on a trail – her face lit up by the sun and a full smile as she looked back her husband entertaining my daughter with flora and fauna and a delightful hat. (The picture on the left is not long after that moment that is ingrained in my mind forever.)
As in every moment with her, she had a twinkle in her eye. I’d call it a spark, even. She’s someone you meet and instantly want to be her friend, or little sister, or niece, or daughter. It doesn’t matter, you just long to matter to her because she is wonderful and wise and everything about being around her feels enriching.
I do not know Madeleine L’Engle other than by her books, and I would not presume to say that I really know Sandy Smith either – I’ve just had the pleasure of her company, the joy of promoting her books, we’ve chattered back and forth in emails to plan signings and blog tours, and I adore her. But in my mind, I imagine L’Engle and Smith as kindred spirits that belong to the same whisper of a thought.
Perhaps this is one of those things I’m meant to keep to myself. I’m not sure. I have forgotten, until recently when back in the store full time, how awkward I can be. I say things at odd times, like tonight when I commented on a girl’s freckles. I really love freckles. But I’ve read The Summer of the Great-Grandmother and I’m grasping to “review” it. I can’t. I can only tell you about a feeling, and that feeling was a memory of sunshine and a respect for life and nature on an Easter Weekend in the woods near my old home. Ultimately, I can only choose one word that describes it all… this book, the ladies in question, the woods, that moment…