Thursday, February 10, 2011

An Influence in Life

I was about 10 years old when I walked in on my mom and older sister discussing a novel my mom wanted Dawn to read. It sounded interesting, though in retrospect, they cowed their discussion when I entered.

"Can I read it?" I asked.

My mom looked at me, hesitated, shrugged, and said yes.

I was about 10 years old, and the book was a legitimate 2 inches thick in fine print. I still have the book. I read it in about a week.

At that time in our town in Wisconsin, only those who lived more than a mile from school rode the buses. The rest of us walked, rode bikes etc., to school. I remember, distinctly, being so absorbed by the book that I would be too anxious to get home to read, so I started reading while I walked. Yes, this is before we had iPods and iPads and Kindles, etc. A 10 year old, reading a huge book, navigating curbs, cars, dogs, etc.

After the first book, I learned it was a series. The second book was even larger than the first, and I devoured that one, as well. By the third book, all three of us, mom, sis, and I, were fighting over the volume as we each tried to be the first to finish it. After that, the time elapsing between the newer books in the series spread out, more. I can only presume that the author was living her life and involved with her 5 kids, etc.

Since then, I have anxiously awaited each arrival in the series. The last book to be published was received with such anticipation that I picked up the book on the way to work and read on breaks, lunch, etc. I did nothing that night nor the next until it, too, was fully digested.

Skip ahead 9 years. NINE YEARS. I was at Barnes and Noble yesterday perusing for gifts when I saw the series displayed, prominently. I have had so much happen in the years since the previous book came out that I truly forgot we were waiting for the last one. My suspicions were instantly raised, and as I checked out, I asked the cashier if there was a reason for the displays.

Cut to slow motion. He is scanning the computer screen, finding the author, and with the slightest up-lift to his chin I am giddy. As his head comes back down to finish his nod, he opens his mouth to begin forming the phrase, "Yessssss." Hallelujah! "Her 6th book will be coming out March 29th." I am butterflied in the belly and want to reach across the counter to hug him. Instead, I texted my sister in all caps. Sorry I yelled at you, Dawn!
Picture found on the link below
Jean M. Auel is the world renowned author of The Earth Child Series. The first book I read, entranced and stumbling over curbs, was The Clan of the Cave Bear. I credit the books, the series, the ideas with shaping, to an extent, who I am and my interests to this day. I fell in love with ancient history through these historical fiction novels. I have a concentration in Sociology (read: Anthropology) due to these books. And Jean is completely deserving of her many accolades not only because she is a phenomenal writer, but because of the extensive work she does prior to writing - the research that goes in to a mere page is awe-inspiring.

I cannot talk enough about Jean Auel and these books. I cannot possibly put in to words the impact these books had on me, especially since I started reading them at such an impressionable age. I can only say that I identify, in some ways, with the main character.

Many years after first reading The Clan of the Cave Bear, my mom told me the only reason she said yes, the first time, was because she didn't think I could finish the book. Thus starts the love affair I have with those who 'don't believe I can ___ ' (fill in the blank - I love a challenge...).

That, too, is very Ayla.


  1. Dionne, you are a true Ayla! What a great review- Jean Auel should hire you as her press-agent! I, too, feel that those books shaped my young adult life. I don't know if you remember but I had a little group of friends that were all into them and we even made little amulets for ourselves. I wonder if I could still find mine? Can't wait for the final book to come out but I'm sure I will be a little sad when I reach the last page. I'm glad I won't have to fight you to read it first!:)

  2. No, I don't remember that. I guess I was too entrenched in finishing my own reading to realize you were doing that. Besides, you shut me out of the bedroom so often! :) It would be so exciting if you found your amulet. Love you and miss you!!