I consider myself a well-read 20-year-old. I’ve read Shakespeare, Bradbury, Rowling, Orwell and Austen. My top bookshelf teeters this way and that. Because all the shelves are packed, the only way to stack is up. My childhood summers consisted of me staying indoors reading The Boxcar Children and The American Girl series. Some of the only times I’d leave the house was to walk down McHugh Drive to the local library – only one block from my front porch – to check out multiple novels at a time. The librarians knew me by name, and they didn’t worry when I came in without adult supervision. I treated the books with respect and care. After all, the characters were my friends, and the yellowed pages were their homes.
I love reading because it’s an escape from reality. I can travel from sweltering Louisiana to mysterious Narnia, Neverland or Oz. I like to read because I can forget about my own life for a few hours.
But every once and a while, there will come a book that will plunge into your soul and make you uncomfortable. It’s not a train to another land, but an intruder that trespasses into your own home, into your personal life, forcing you to ask deep questions about the betterment of yourself and society.
At 1:32 a.m. this morning, I turned the last page to The Little Way of Ruthie Leming. It was one of those rare intrusive books.
Here’s a quick synopsis: Ruthie Leming is the author’s sister. She was born and raised in West Feliciana, just a few miles north of my home in Zachary. Ruthie lived a simple, country life and Rod Dreher, her brother, tells her battle of cancer and the fight for faith, family and community.
Mr. Dreher isn’t afraid to stray to difficult scenes of passive aggressive quips, and theological discussion of God’s will. It is simply fantastic writing around a wholesome and real family.
You know you are reading good writing when you have to sit back, put the book down, and ponder questions like: do I tell my momma I love her every day? Do I question God too much? How can I be more welcoming to others?
A common theme of the story is God has something bigger for us than what we want at the time, and sometimes we can’t see what good will come out of tragedy until long after. Mr. Dreher, I believe this book is one of the things God wanted to come out of this. The Little Way isn’t just an archive for your descendants; your account of your sister made me think about the way I’m living life, and how I can be a better person. It also gave me hope that one day I, too, could be a writer from unknown Zachary.
Thank you and your sweet family for being brave and selfless for sharing your Ruthie with the rest of the world. Just like you said Ruthie touched everyone she met, she will touch even more souls from heaven in the pages of your book (I know she inspired me). So, thank you for the read. I loved every page.
Thanks for reading,