I’ve just read an article from BookFox about keeping readers engaged. Being both reader and writer, this title intrigued me—writing cliff hangers for the end of a chapter.
As a reader, I want to know what happens next. I have
set some books aside that felt too harsh. I’m a sensitive reader and don’t tend
to pick books that portray violence. An exception to that rule, for me, was The
Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway, because the writer does not focus
on the 1990s siege itself, rather the evidence of it, where people stay inside out
of fear, where there are line-ups for bread at certain times of day, when it’s
unsafe to go out.
I might not have picked up that book on my own, except that I was on the book review team for our local newspaper at the time, and that was the book the editor sent to me.
The dust cover showed destruction, and I knew which war it was about. That it was far away mattered little, but I learned as I read that the writer focused on the people and their lack of hope. Sure, there were signs of war that had been all around them and gunfire still in the hills around them. Yet Galloway shows sensitivity to all that has happened and that one lone cellist who bravely sets up his music stand and chair, opens up his cello case and gets ready to play. Though I do not hear the music, I know the piece and can sense the calming effect it has on people watching. I read it to the end.
What does that have to do with us where we are now, in the holds of the pandemic? Oddly, we’re in suspense too, just before the page turn, leaving us hanging. In our minds, we question how things will look, wondering about those also who’ve had so much to lose, whose situations may have already been precarious before the pandemic was declared. And we wonder about the vaccine too (without sowing more seeds of fear).
Some people are quick to predict certain outcomes, according to their belief system. Others are afraid and anxious, and if I’m honest, I find myself there too, from time to time.
I believe that God is with us in our celebrations, when life treats us well, and in our times of fear and anxiety when we don’t know which way to turn. We read, “Do not be afraid” as angels spoke the message to a young virgin chosen to be Jesus’ earthly mother, to shepherds in the field witnessing spectacular things in the heavens, as well as to others in the pages of the Bible.We turn that next page in our history now with a sense of mystery and suspense. The story is not over yet; there are more chapters, I'm sure. And we can almost hear those words to us, “Do not be afraid.” And we wait.
Carolyn Wilker, author, editor and storyteller