For as long as I can remember, books have always been a constant presence and staple in my life. As a young toddler, I can even recall wandering through the house with my little, square “Golden Books,” in hand, desperate for someone to read to me, often leafing through the pages myself and scribbling new words and ideas into them. Reading for me, was always a comfort and escape, providing me solace, room for imagination and an adventure to call my own. As I grew older, I ravenously read through each Babysitters Club book and Sweet Valley High series books, in addition to countless others. Many times, I can recall visiting the library for their various events and visits throughout the week, leaving with a stack of books heavier than I could manage to hold in my small hands.
When I was a teenager, I befriended a classmate who would become one of my closest friends through the years of high school. She and I spent much time together, sharing a lot of similar interests; reading and writing, in particular. One day, in 9th grade, she mentioned she had a book she’d recently finished reading and felt I would enjoy it, informing me of the “unexpected twist” towards the end, aware of how I always sought to find intellectually-stimulating stories/plots. A day or so later, she placed the book in my hands, “The Last Time They Met,” by Anita Shreve. The title alone was alluring and I was eager to begin reading. That same day, upon arriving home from school, I began reading and within several hours or a day, the book was completed. What an adventure it was, weaving through the intricate verbiage and plot twists, leaving me desperate for more. After completing the book, Anita Shreve, an author I’d never heard of before, became one of my favorites. Eager to read more of her books, I asked my friend if she knew of any of her other books and she happily informed me she had yet another one of her books she could lend me by the name of, “The Pilot’s Wife.” Similar in its composition to her preceding book, it left me intrigued and shocked as I worked my way through the pages.
To be able to write in the way Anita did is a true indicator of talent in itself. Her unique and careful way of weaving a story without faltering, leading the reader to believe one way, only to completely dismantle those beliefs midway through the novel, is enticing and suspenseful. The only other author I can recall sending chills down by spine beyond Shreve is Paula Hawkins, the author of “The Girl on the Train.”
With all of this being said, yesterday in the midst of readying myself for the day, I briefly paused to check my Twitter feed, only to see a shocking tweet by one of my other favorite authors, Jodi Picoult, which read: “Mourning the loss of #AnitaShreve – a remarkable storyteller who brought me hours of reading joy.” Upon reading her words, a lump gathered in my thought as I quickly closed out of Twitter and tapped by Google app, feverishly typing Anita Shreve into the search bar. What appeared was a vast listing of death notices, articles stating her cancer diagnosis and passing in recent days. Immediately, nostalgia overwhelmed me and I was transported into my 9th grade social studies class, sitting with my friend as she handed me my first Anita Shreve novel.
Sometimes I think it was Anita Shreve who inspired me to want to write even more than I already did. Her talent and writing ability was immeasurable, one I always hoped to emulate someday. The emotions were often palpable through the pages as I leafed through them. Like author, Jodi Picoult, I do am truly blessed and honored to have been able to read her stories and am so grateful for her sharing these talents with the world. How lucky am I to have been able to read her stories and be able to enjoy them time and time again. It is my hope Anita will rest in peace knowing how much she positively impacted lives – especially mine.
“A book is a gift you can open again and again.”