I recently finished reading the Divergent trilogy. I’d like to say that I read these books to better connect with my students, but I really just enjoy reading adolescent literature for myself!
If you have read this series, you can probably relate to the heartbreak I felt after finishing. I shed many tears, and for days, I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters in the story and what they went through. After talking with family and friends about it, I really started to analyze the effect that fiction has on people…and specifically on me.
As a child in elementary school I loved to read a book series called Abby, which follows a girl named Abby and all of her adventures. While in the middle of reading one of the books, I distinctly remember praying before going to bed one night and starting to pray that the characters in the story would be safe, until I remembered all of a sudden that they, and the situations they faced, were completely fictional.
I guess I have always struggled with separating fiction and reality when reading, because stories completely capture my mind and my heart. As I was thinking about this, I was reminded of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous idea about poetry asking readers to willingly suspend their disbelief momentarily. I’ve decided that I have no problem suspending my disbelief, but that my problem is being able to “un-suspend” it after finishing a story.
In some ways, I think this is the beauty of literature – to learn from stories, even fictional ones, and to carry the characters and the messages with you even long after the story is over.