“Books may well be the only true magic.” ~ Alice Hoffman
I am going to tell you a story. Once upon a time there was a little girl who truly disliked books. She did not appreciate the written word, she did not understand why some people spent hours and hours staring at pages filled with symbols to which someone gave a meaning and a sound. She played outside instead. She got dirty, she got her body painted in a thousand different shades of purple as she fell over and over again. She always got up, though. She ran outside instead. Even though her asthma claimed her breath and left her heart racing faster than the fastest horse, she kept running. She enjoyed feeling. The summer rain on her warm face, the sand under her feet, the mud on her knees, the wind on her skin... She was proud of each and every single one of her scars.
She felt alive.
She never thought she would feel as alive as now. That was until she found herself staring at the cover of the first Harry Potter book. That was the first time her heart skipped a beat at the sight of a book. That was the first time she fell in love. Seven books later, she needed more. She found herself longing for more words, more stories, more magic. Bookstores became her paradise, libraries her sanctuary.
She was walking around a secondhand bookstore when she got asked the question.
"What's your favourite book?"
She raised an eyebrow in confusion. How could someone ask her to decide which of the stories she loved the most? They were all part of her now. They were part of whom she had become. How can you choose a favorite part of yourself, when you're not only the sum of your parts, but also all the links between them? She didn't answer.
She was walking around a library when she got asked another question.
"Who's your favourite author?"
She sighed deeply. How could someone ask her to decide which of the people that whispered stories in her ear she loved the most? They all had different voices, voices that had become too familiar for her to choose. She found herself recognizing them at the distance. How can you choose? How are you supposed to choose between the enchanters that sing you to the world of dreams? She didn't answer.
She couldn't help but wonder, though. Was she doing something wrong? Why couldn't she answer those questions? Why didn't she have an answer?
A few years later she found a copy of a book called "The Ice Queen". She stayed up all night reading it, feeling it, living it. She laughed with the characters, she cried with them, she prayed for them... she felt them and for them.
For the first time in a long time, she felt the summer rain on her warm face, the sand under her feet, the mud on her knees, the wind on her skin... For the first time in a long time, she felt so hard that a new scar appeared, right above her chest.
That was when I fell in love with Alice Hoffman.
Since that very first book, I haven't been able to stop. Her words are as alive as the blood that runs in my veins, and they leave me breathless, speechless, broken-hearted... How can a simple human being express so many emotions through written symbols that have no inner meaning?
Reading Alice Hoffman is like being part of a class on how to become human. If you ever find yourself questioning your capability of feeling, look for one of her books. You will find yourself, you will find your humanity, you will find your heart.
Thank you, Alice, thank you for teaching me the meaning of magic. Thank you for teaching me that life has its up and downs, and that it is okay to cry and to laugh. Thank you for teaching me how to get up, how to grow up, how to believe and how to never lose hope. Thank you for constantly reminding me that I am just human, and that as a human being, it's okay to feel down, it's okay to fall down, it's okay to lie on the floor for a little while...
Thank you, Alice. You are part of whom I have become, and I have never been this proud of myself.