Considering What Unites Us
By Karen Ballum on March 13, 2013
While I read Alex George's A Good American I thought a lot about what it means to belong -- to a church, a town, a country, a family. Frederick didn't belong to Jette's social strata, so they had to leave their homeland in order to be together. When they reach America, they do not end up in the town they intended to settle in, but they put down roots there. It's where they raised their family and where that family discovers they belong.
Jette, in particular, didn't always feel like she belonged there. After she gave birth to her son, she was surprised to find herself heartbreakingly homesick. There was something about Jette's homesickness that made me feel like the author might have experienced it himself, and after reading the author's note, I think I may be right. George writes of what it was like to be someone who immigrated to the United States of America and how he drew upon that while writing this story. This was my favourite part of his note:
"Writing this book was an illuminating experience. It shone a light on my own feelings about moving here. Despite the long and generally amicable relations between England and America (if we pass discreetly over the War of Independence), people still relish the little things that divide us, like the funny way I talk. But having lived here for some time now, I prefer to consider what unites us." Page 414
It made me think of how we all interact online, even within BlogHer Book Club. Not all of us are Americans (I am, in fact, Canadian). Not all of us have children. Some of us are married and some of us are not. We don't all eat the same food or listen to the same music. For some of us , our lives are an opera, and for others they are romantic comedies. We don't look the same, act the same, or like all the same things.
In both my online and offline lives, I have an eclectic mix of friends. Some are writers and others are engineers. Some of them are foodies and others would like to turn their kitchens into shoe storage. Some love books as much as I do, and others just aren't that into books (it's OK, I still love them). Yet we are united in friendship. What is it that unites us?
I've been thinking about this for the last couple of weeks, and there is really just one thing I keep coming back to -- we all have an avid curiosity for life. What I mean by that is that we like to explore, question and discover. Some of us do it through books, others through music and still others by travel. By reading, writing and having good old-fashioned conversations in person, we're constantly learning new things about each other and ourselves.
What unites your community?
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