N is for Not Forgotten (Niffenegger)

What I Read: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

This is actually one of the few books I've read in my life that I couldn't read out of order.

I read the ends and middles of books all the time. It doesn't hurt my reading experience. A good ending will only convince me to read the rest of the book. A bad ending tells me I'm wasting my time. (For example, I read the ending of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell before I read the book. There was no way I was going to invest in that many pages and be disappointed in the end; that's a lot of my life there that I could use rereading Agatha Christie, thank you very much. I'm happy to say that I ended up reading the whole book, and it is very much worth it.)

With The Time Traveler's Wife, out of order reading doesn't work. This is not because the chapters are chronologically out of order; a few are, but the book more or less follows a chronology. The reason is that the main character, Henry, is not terribly appealing in the early chapters, but you are supposed to believe that he is. You don't know why if you read the book out of order.

Basically, The Time Traveler's Wife does something fairly remarkable: gives you a fated, true-love relationship that doesn't bypass the difficulty of the actual relationship.

One of the problems with many TRUE LOVE stories is that TRUE LOVE is equated with EASY RELATIONSHIP. That is, TRUE LOVE is taken to mean "I don't have to explain myself, and the other person is never hurt, and everything is perfect." The seduction of books like Twilight is the idea that once all the horrible external bad people/events go away, the relationship itself will be a no-brainer.

This is not true. I've never believed it, not even with Romeo & Juliet. (My rose-colored glasses phase of teenagerhood had a relatively short life.)

One of my favorite parts of The Time Traveler's Wife is when Clare finally meets up with her "future" husband at his actual age. This is a man she has known since she was six, and she has always known him as mature and stable and, if occasionally depressed, comfortable with the complexity of the world. When she meets his 27-year-old self, she's thrilled, but somewhat taken aback by how . . . how, well, young he is.

In other words, sure, she's getting the man she'd been in love with all her life and sure, she knows that he will be head-over-heels in love with her, but they still have to do that whole getting-to-know-you-and-live-with-you-and-adjust-to-your-presence thing. And they have to keep doing it. Even after he becomes the man she first fell in love with, she still has to live with him and vice versa.

Having said all this, I would not have read this book if I wasn't doing this exercise, yet I'm glad I did. The actual reading isn't difficult. I read the book in less than a week (for why it has taken me so long to post for "N," see below), but I nearly put it down at the 1/3rd mark with a note to self: That's enough for a review.

However, by then, I was caught up in the relationship, so I stuck it out, and it was worth it. But if you are like me, and you dislike "saga" tales, be warned; you may feel that you are being inundated with saga at one point. That's because, unlike real life, many things are being learned and thrown at you at once. Take a breather and keep going. Remember: time eases pain, explains paradoxes, and puts context to past behavior.

Explanation for why it's been so long since "M"--When The Time Traveler's Wife came out several years ago, I got it out of the library; I never got around to reading it, but I thought about it a lot. I even bought a cheap copy from Goodwill, which I never got around to reading. So finally, I gave the copy back to Goodwill.

Then the movie came out, which I saw (it's okay; the director and script writer obviously value the book, but like with all books, it's hard to do justice to). And I'd already started this project. I got to "N," and I tried "Larry Niven," and I couldn't even get through a single page, Larry Niven was so boring, so I thought "Why not read Niffenegger?"

And every single copy at both the libraries I have cards for was on hold. Multiple holds--22 holds per copy. Seriously.

This is after the movie came out.

I can't complain. I had my chance beforehand. Still--sheesh, talk about establishing a connection between movies and sales. Although, the book may have been on hold because everybody was like me: we wanted to read it, not buy it.

So I finally got a copy last week, and I finished it last week.

I have already picked out "O" and "P."

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