I overslept this morning. I woke up with a sore arm, achiness, and a mild feeling of “blah.” Yep, I got my Moderna booster shot yesterday evening. I’m fine, really, and I’m in favor of vaccines. I got my flu shot before Halloween. These mild side effects are nothing compared to the way I’d feel if I contracted the actual illness.
However, I am feeling poorly enough to be (silently) whiny and to want my mom. (By the way, I’m over-50.) But Mom lives half a continent away and I still have to adult. Bills don’t pay themselves. So, I turned to books for comfort. They have fewer calories than mac and cheese. I wanted to read something intellectually stimulating enough to be entertaining but not so grown up that it would force me to interrogate the darkness that pervades the world.
Middle-Grade Fiction—The Undervalued Solution
Middle-grade crime fiction provided what I needed. Last night, I rewarded myself for being a big girl and not even wincing during my shot with a Festival of Lights latte and a negroni. (I was a very good girl, and the pharmacy didn’t give out lollipops.) Several chapters of The Westing Game, by the late Ellen Raskin, accompanied the liquid refreshments.
A Modern Classic—Says So on the Cover
The Newberry Medal-winning The Westing Game, written in 1978, incorporates enough social issues (e.g., one of the characters confronts what it means to be the first Black, first female judge in the state. Another participates fully in the story from his wheelchair.) to keep it from floating away as pure fluff. However, it’s so well written that it doesn’t come across as being “about” social issues. Readers lacking the bandwidth to deal with Important Matters can push the social commentary to one side and focus on the bizarre game that the murdered Mr. Westing lays out in his will. Then, when they’re feeling up to facing the real world, they can re-read the story and reflect on Raskin’s deeper message. Props to Raskin for pulling that off.
What books, by title or genre, do you turn to for comfort? Are you an escapist? Or is your comfort reading fully grounded in the real world, helping you figure out how to deal with whatever situation you’re in? Comment here, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
Great recommendation and post, Alexia! The Westing Game is a blast from the past … +1 on the TBR. I like to keep the latest book from some of my favorite series (of various genres) in reserve for such days … sorry, world … can’t come to the door right now, this book needs reading.