Personal Narrative: The Shadow Children

Most people can remember their parents reading them bedtime stories as a kid, but I can’t recall if my parents did. That could be a reason as to why I was never crazy about books, and surely never wanted to read one. I eventually gave into reading and found that I loved it. My favorite book series’ to read when I was young were Captain Underpants, Goosebumps, and Shadow Children. Each book series brought out a different part of me, and introduced me to new ways of life. They sort of molded me, but I stopped reading books after the fourth grade; I just couldn’t find anything interesting.

Although, I didn’t really look to read anyway, books and I just kind of drifted apart. I got back into books freshman year because Dr. Maxfield wanted our class to do SSR, or Sustained Silent Reading. I didn’t ever think that I’d actually find a book I liked, let alone find books that would make me more comfortable with myself. I remember in elementary school when the bookmobile would always show up. It’s a foggy memory, but I remember always being so excited when it came. You could hardly see the color of the walls because there were so many books.

I remember one particular time where I walked straight to the back, as if I had a book in mind, but I didn’t. I was one of the last kids off of the bookmobile that day, and my book was nothing special. I searched and searched for a book. They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but I do, and that’s what I did that day. I came across Captain Underpants; I had remembered hearing a bunch of my friends talk about how they loved reading those books. However, most of my friends, at the time, were a bunch of guys. Nevertheless, I walked out with that book and fell in love.

I read it front to back in just a matter of hours; it wasn’t a hard book to read after all. Captain Underpants held a special place in my heart after that day. The books were silly and comical, and they brought that out of me as well. I didn’t know it then, but Captain Underpants was just a gateway drug for reading. Goosebumps was the next book I managed to pick up. I don’t remember how it started, but I’ve just always loved Goosebumps. The books were creepy, scary, and twisted, but I was deeply interested in them. I can recall one particular book; it was one of the ‘choose your own adventure’ books.

This particular one was about becoming a part of lab experiments for Dr. Eeek. I had never read a ‘choose your own adventure’ book before, so I was a little confused, and I didn’t really enjoy it all that much. I cheated too, because anytime I’d choose the wrong path, I’d go back and do it again. I never finished that book, I just gave up, so. Instead of finishing the book, back when the Nintendo DS was popular, one of the first games I bought was Goosebumps. It was a great game, and I continued reading the books. They’re the reason as to why I love scary movies so much today, and it’s also the source of my interest in the paranormal.

Reading Goosebumps opened a pathway to the next book series I became entangled in called The Shadow Children. The Shadow Children series is about a dystopian country, a country that is undesirable and chaotic. Due to food shortages, families were only allowed two children, anything more was forbidden. The books focus on the lives of third children. I don’t recall the books’ plots exactly, being that my memory is hazy, but I do remember how reading those books was hardly reading at all. I saw a movie in my head, and I still remember parts of the movie too, but not much.

The Shadow Children was most interesting for me to read, though I never read the entire series. When I thought about science fiction, I thought about Star Wars, so I never dared to touch a science fiction book. But this series opened my eyes to science fiction and mysteries, which were the only books I bothered to read my freshman year. When Dr. Maxfield told the class that we’d need a book for SSR, I panicked. I stopped reading books after elementary school, so I didn’t know what I was going to do. I went to the library after school one day, and looked for an hour or longer just for one book.

I didn’t even know where to go to find a book for me. I don’t remember what book I ended up getting, but I do know that the only books I’d get were science fiction. After a while of reading these books, I decided to start getting two books instead of just one. Then I started to look for more than just science fiction, and before I knew it, I was getting three books at a time. Back when The Fault in Our Stars was the hype, I completely ignored romance books, but I fell short. I borrowed one of my friend’s copies and started reading it.

I found the book so interesting that it was as if I was in a movie, or I was there, so when Augustus died, I cried. I read the book not too long after my father passed away, so what started off as just a little crying for the character became much bigger, it was as if I understood the characters, and how they felt. Before I would’ve said, “okay he died, moving on, next book. ” After reading The Fault in Our Stars, I went back to the library and picked up a romance book. It seemed like a good book, but I wasn’t drawn into it. This was about the time where I was fighting with myself.

I became a regular church goer, I went Wednesday nights, Sunday mornings and nights, and any other time the doors were open. I was changing who I was, becoming a better person. No cussing, no bad thoughts, no “worldly” music, and praying, but then came the fact that I like girls and I couldn’t change that. I tried that before, so I knew it didn’t work. I felt trapped at the time with no one to talk to, and no one who would ever understand my position. So, I went to the library, and hesitantly wanted to find books related to homosexuality. I didn’t know where to go to find one.

Was there even a gay section, let alone a book? I didn’t want to walk around the section if there was; I was very scared and nervous. I searched on the computer for books that related to the gay community. Anytime I’d find a book that seemed interesting, I’d write it down, but I’d click off the page when anyone would walk by. I found a few books to start with. The one that had the biggest impact was about a gay teenager getting jumped, and was nearly killed, by a bunch of skinheads. Skinheads are the opposite of a hippie, they were more rough and tough, and often shaved their heads.

The story focused on the kid who got jumped and one of the skinheads, it led up to the two meeting again years later. The book is based on a true story. When two main characters met years later, they made amends, became friends, and are now sharing their story with others. This touched me because I thought what if other people, or church goers, could also be the same way? Would they actually befriend someone like me? I decided to pick up a few romance books about same-sex couples, and I fell in love with those more than anything else, though some were poorly written.

I felt a connection with the characters; I understood how they felt and what they were going through. The books typically ended with happy characters, and that’s how I hoped my story would end, happy, just like them. I didn’t bring these books to school to read for SSR. I’d bring a mystery book instead because I was too scared, and too worried about what others would say and think. I’d read the other books at home instead, I’d lay on my bedroom floor. I continued reading throughout my sophomore year. I read LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, and Queer) books, science fiction, and anything I found with an interesting cover really.

I don’t go to church anymore, reading the LGBTQ books helped me build up enough courage to come out to my youth pastor’s wife. Nothing bad was said, but I could feel a difference in how the church members saw me. I’m thankful that I picked up Freaks and Revelations because that’s what changed my perspective on things. Reading books started out as something silly and fun, but it slowly changed into something more, something meaningful. I wish I still read today, but I don’t. Junior year kept me busy, so I never had the time to read.

I currently have a book fee to pay since I kept a book overdue when I procrastinated one of my history research papers. I still find myself reading poems though. Tumblr was my go-to social media site junior year. I began following a girl who wrote beautiful poems, and even posted a few videos reciting her slam poems. She just recently compiled all of her poems into a book. I thought about buying it, still do, but since it’s only available to purchase online, I can’t because I don’t have a credit card. I’m hoping to find a way to buy her book, and maybe one day I’ll go back to the library, pay my fee, and start reading again.