Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Heir, Kiera Cass

I was really excited for this book. I was a little disappointed. But I think it was because I ADORED America Singer and who she became. And her a very flawed character. Where America focused outward, Eadlyn (Eed-lyn) focuses inward. She has a very clear idea of what SHE thinks a female ruler looks like, but it pushes people away and makes her seem off-putting. *However, I MUST give props to Cass for giving Eadlyn a TOTALLY different voice from America.

But then I can't help but wonder something else. Something I worry about in my own parenting experience. I grew up without a ton of money. I never cared about it. I never even realized it. I went school clothes shopping at Good Will and had no clue that that wasn't the norm. But as I grew up and I understood the implications of that, I realized that the experience really shaped who I was. I grew up to be grateful for possessions because I didn't have a ton. I'm sure I had a lot more than others, but that was mostly because they were hand me downs. I learned about saving money and managing money. I learned about being frugal. But I've grown up, I've got kids of my own and I can't help but want to give them what I never got: special experiences at a young age. I got to take piano lessons starting at age 8 because we found a teacher who came to our house to teach us and charged $5/lesson. It wasn't  until later in life when my mom was also working that I learned flute and then desired private lessons on that as well. And I did sports that required special shoes or uniform fees. I always felt a little guilty for how much it cost. But I always wished I could have taken dance or gymnastics or ice skating (any olympic sport, really!) but missed that window since I couldn't pursue it from the moment I could walk. So even though sometimes we've had grandparents pay, my older daughter has been able to do an activity since she was 3. It was dance for 4 years, then it's been art lessons for the past 3. My current 4 year old has not made a decision yet, and we may or may not need help with affording that at this point. But we make sacrifices and ask for help. I don't think we've ever spent our own money on a full new school wardrobe in the 6 years my daughter's been in school. Grandparents have always been able to take care of that for us. And it's not at the Good Will.

Sometimes I'm wondering if I'm doing my kids any favors. Is Eadlyn's off-putting personality due to the isolation she's grown up in? The fact that she's never had to work to contribute to family finances so she could eat a decent meal like her mother did growing up? That she has no real concept of the struggles the people of her nation are experiencing? She only has reports to read. And paperwork to complete. She feels that strength and independence can only be achieved alone. So of course she HATES the idea of being part of a Selection. She doesn't have time or patience for romance. She doesn't even see the POINT or VALUE of such an emotion. She canNOT be vulnerable in ANY way. And to love is to be vulnerable. She constantly mis-judges people and makes snap judgements. She keeps thinking she's fixing things when it nearly always backfires. She has no idea how to have fun. She doesn't know how to have a meaningful relationship with anyone aside from her twin brother. She's narrow minded and shrinks away from any discomfort. Is that a product of a pampered life? With no exposure to anything unpleasant? Is THAT what creates such a girl? It makes me think that I ought to subject my kids to discomfort every now and again. Because it's good for you. It makes you a better person to broaden their perspective and push the limits of what they think is good. They complain about hiking, but I'm going to make them do it more, so they can appreciate that they CAN. Their physical bodies are perfect enough to do it and the creations of the Earth can be appreciated better that way. They hate doing chores. But I'm not going to have them grow up thinking that chores are somehow beneath them. I don't enjoy chores, but every now and then I get a certain satisfaction in being able to say that I did something myself. That I learned that hard work-even if it's mundane-has made me a better person. That fun is not just found in the absence of work, but is made sweeter by earning it, and sometimes you can even have fun WHILE you work!

Let me warn you that this book ends on a BIG, HUGE cliffhanger. Ugh! I didn't realize it was turning into another series! Eadlyn is starting to realize what a prick she can be-or at least see how she could be perceived as being one. She's starting to look at people for being PEOPLE. Even her 14 year old brother Kaden seems to have a better handle on what it would take to not only become a good leader, but a beloved leader. He would get out and get to know the people and find out their actual needs and wants. Eadlyn thinks that's a waste of time. Or at the very least inefficient. I really hope she evolves to be more like her mother. I wish her parents would tell her more about their history-the country, themselves, their selection. I think that also contributes to her ignorance of the way the world works. I think her parents are trying to protect her but in so doing are doing a great disservice to her. She's 18 now and I think she could handle more of the truth beyond what she learned in history class. Maybe all our kids could benefit from knowing more about our pasts, to help prevent them from being entitled today.

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