My mom and I are doing this challenge together with each of us getting to pick the book for every other prompt. This was her turn.
Book #2: A book that has been on your to read list for too long: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
I’m sure I probably read this in high school. Most people in the US are forced to read this and many others way before they are mature enough to comprehend the content. If I did though, I don’t recall and nothing in the book brought up any memories.
This book is an american classic and I can see why even though in the end I wouldn’t want to add it to my collection or read again.
Of Mice and Men is a heart breaking story about the intangible: dreams, friendship, and power.
The book is set in depression era California as two men try to find work as a ranch hand to earn “a stake”. They are a mismatched pair to be sure: George is slender, small of stature and big of mind while Lennie is a brute with the intelligence and naivete of a small child. They have one common dream that brings them together and draws other characters in and that is to have their own plot of land to farm and live off of with all the freedom it brings.
The most prominent theme is about dreams. How fragile they are. How easy to build, believe in and lose. We find ourselves introduced to George and Lennie after half a life time of being together. The farm has become such an ingrained part of the future, that they both can repeat the same detailed description over and over again. It is real enough to touch and George only really comes alive when he is picturing it
Throughout the novel other characters interact with this dream. Some beg for a piece of it to call their own and others challenge that it isn’t real. In rough times, the talk of the farm brings Lennie and George closer and at peace.
It is particularly powerful then when the book closes with the same images of the farm with the rabbits and chickens and garden vegetables all laid out before George and Lennie’s eyes as everything comes to a close.
When I completed the book, I sat and stared for a while. I was more than just sad…I was downtrodden. A dream so real you can touch it, taste it, smell it. A dream that keeps you moving ever forward through all the muck and more that life throws at you. When George admits to the world that it isn’t ever going to happen. That it was never going to be real. That he has given up. Well, that just wrenches your heart right out.
If you haven’t read it, I don’t know. It’s not my favorite for sure. It is slow to start with overly descriptive passages about the location and scenery. It took me about half way through to figure out what it was even about. The characters are not likable except for perhaps George and Slim, the second in command. It does make you think and it is a short book though. If you’ve got some time, I’d go ahead and pick it up.