We read White Oleander for book club this month. It's a story that spans 8 years as a teenage girl goes through foster care. If I read fiction books, I tend to choose things that are classics, historical fiction, or uplifting stories. If things get too dark or disturbing I don't usually continue reading. But this book was different. The foster system is can be full of dark and disturbing things, and this time I didn't want to turn away from that reality. I felt a great urge to push through and come face to face with what some in this world have to live with.
I have lived a charmed life. I grew up in a home with loving, supportive parents. I am in a wonderful marriage with a husband who works hard and loves his family. While we have had our share of challenges, it is not the sort of physical, spiritual and emotional harm the character in this story endured. And this time I didn't want to turn a blind eye. I wanted to really sit with it, to be sure that my eyes remain opened to the pain in this world, that I might not fool myself into thinking we live once gain in Eden. Stories like these sit with me, leave an indelible mark, and move me toward change.