Book Club: Elizabeth Crook’s The Night Journal

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Thenightjournal The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook has me asking a lot of questions about the telling of our story.

Here's a synopsis from the back cover:

Meg Mabry has always felt oppressed by her family's legendary past. In the 1890's her great-grandmother Hannah Bass wrote revealing diaries of her life on the southwestern frontier, Hannah's daughter published these accounts, creating an American literary landmark, and cementing her career as a renowned historian in the process.

Meg, however, in rebellion against the imperious Bassie, has refused until now to read her great-grandmother's journals. But when the elderly Bassie returns to New Mexico, Meg concedes to accompany her–and soon everything they believed about the family is turned upside down.

Some observations, and many, many questions:

1) It had never occurred to me that one could be oppressed by a family's legendary past given that the past of my family isn't legendary.

Does this mean that if we ‘tell the story' of achieving our dreams, our daughters will view this story as a burden rather than a gift?

2) As a follow-on, because my college degree is from a 2nd-tier university, it hadn't occurred to me that someone with an MBA from one of the world's foremost universities could feel pressure, as does one of my girlfriends, to make something of her life.

When our dream doesn't directly build on our own impressive past, will we give ourselves permission to pursue our dream, trusting that our seemingly unrelated skills will eventually come into play?

3) As The Night Journal unfolds, we find that Hannah Bass' legendary past was only part of the story. The Night Journal is the proverbial ‘rest of the story.' It is only when Meg learns the whole story, the true story, that Hannah's story becomes a gift.

With the proliferation of blogs, do we risk telling a story that is so glammed up that our posterity will fail to know our true story?

As we give voice to our experiences, they do gain power, but do they influence lives for good or ill? Inspire or oppress?

Related posts:
Tell Your Story
Telling My Wall Street Story
Doorsteps, Doors and Dreams
Belle Liang: Making Meaning in Malawi
Children and the Call to Adventure

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