Jun 6, 2014

Coraline - early sketches

I don't read books twice. It happens rarely and only if the first time they left an "echo" in the back of my mind, something that will eventually pull me back into that story. When I do is always after many years. I recognize the reasons why I loved it the first time, but I also find new layers of meaning, as I change and grow as an individual.
I was looking for a story for my black and white portfolio and for Bologna. I wanted something with older characters and a darker atmosphere. I picked up Neil Gaiman's Coraline, without knowing that this book had so much more to tell me now, than it did the first time. If you're familiar with the movie, do yourself a favor and read the book. Not only because it's so incredibly well written and full of beautiful lines, but because it also is a lot more complex and darker than the film.

In a world that goes so quickly, with the pressure of being successful and individualistic, how much time and attention do we give to those we love? Do we really know who they are or how they feel?
Coraline captures those big fears we all have as kids and often carry in our adult life. The need for attention and understanding. The fear of being forgotten or misunderstood. There is a reference to her name as a mark for her identity in different parts of the book. The cat tells her that people need names because they don't know who they really are. The Other Mother also says:

“Nothing’s changed. You’ll go home. You’ll be bored. You’ll be ignored. No one will listen to you, really listen to you. You’re too clever and too quiet for them to understand. They don’t even get your name right.”

They don't get your name right - they don't know who you really are, they don't care. And when you're offered everything you could ever want, will you be brave enough to refuse? A life might not be perfect, but still has a meaning.

The first time I read this book I wasn't a parent. Reading it now, after months of intensive deadlines and little time to play with my son, put this tale on a different scale. It's not just my own fears and insecurities (my name is often misspelled too!) but also the sense of guilt we feel for not having enough time. If you need a good book for the summer, read this great story. I hope you'll get lost in that big dark house as I did, only to resurface and give your kids a big hug.