A book I couldn’t finish

Sometimes you start reading a book and you realize it’s just not for you. And guess what! There is no book police. If you don’t want to finish, you don’t have to! This is a lesson I had to remind myself of recently.

Barbara Kingsolver’s latest book “Demon Copperhead” is highly acclaimed and a New York Times bestseller. The book is described as a modern day retelling of Dickens’ “David Copperfield,” but set in rural Appalachia. To be honest, I never read “David Copperfield,” but I was determined to read “Demon Copperhead.” I downloaded the audiobook and began. The audio book is 21-hours long. The story is told from the young man’s point of view whose nickname is Demon and it’s a pretty gritty story from the start about a boy born to a mother on drugs and alcohol right on the kitchen floor of a ramshackle trailer.

I made it to the hour and half mark and there was a really horrific description of violence against a woman and baby. I was in the carline before picking my son up from school and I just couldn’t listen anymore. Maybe I’ll get back to listening tomorrow, I thought. Then I thought some more. I really didn’t like what I was reading (hearing.)

I made a post in one of my book Facebook groups and said I was struggling with finishing this particular book. All the responses said basically the same thing, if it’s making you unhappy then STOP reading!

There have been plenty of books I have put down for one reason or another in the past but I struggled with the decision to stop reading this one. I do think that there is value in reading something that challenges us and brings us to a new perspective. When I was in my late teens, my Godfather Rod suggested I read “Snow Falling on Cedars” by David Guterson. This book is set in the 1950s and includes reflections on the Japanese internment camps in America during WWII. I had not learned about these camps in school and the book made me very uncomfortable. However, at the end I was glad I read it because I learned about a time in history that I didn’t know about before.

Kingsolver’s novel depicts the modern day struggles of many in rural Appalachia amid the opioid crisis. This is just as devastating a situation, but one I have more knowledge of as there are often stories in this very newspaper on the subject.

In the end, I returned the audiobook and didn’t finish. And you know what? That is ok. Life is too short to read books that make you unhappy.

Let me know what you are currently reading or a favorite book by emailing me at kburns@yadkinripple.com.

Kitsey Burns Harrison, Editor of The Tribune and Yadkin Ripple, shares her latest literary journeys, book reviews and more. She may be reached at 336-258-4035 or follow her on Instagram @news_shewrote.