Monday, December 30, 2013

Goodbye, Everyone!

This is my 229th post on a blog just over 2 years old.

I actually never thought it would last three months. My personality type isn't supposed to be capable of being consistent or following through with much of anything. It's part of my stereotyped charm. And sometimes it's true that I bounce back and forth with a dozen ideas without accomplishing much in any of them. I'm not entirely sure how this one was the exception.

But it was, and it had a good run.

Why do I say this? Because I'm saying goodbye to Just the Fiction, Ma'am, at least for now. I realized recently that the blog is supposed to be about writing. The word "fiction" is even in the title of the blog. And yet all of my favorite posts aren't about writing at all.

For the sake of rejecting false advertising, I'm starting a new blog, The Monday Heretic, where I'm planning to write about faith topics. There's going to be a Great and Powerful Whiteboard of Theology and pop culture commentary on the saints of the past and way more Calvin and Hobbes cartoons than you really care to read. I'm excited.

I'll probably continue my practice of linking to old posts on this blog. Probably I'll get wistful for the green background and writing tip posts. I can almost guarantee that in a decade I'll read some of what I read hear and shake my head at my twenty-something foolishness.

I hope you come find me at my new home. It's been fun...but I can't wait to see what happens next.

Speaking of Calvin and Hobbes overload (which really shouldn't be possible), I thought it would be appropriate to end with the final Calvin and Hobbes strip. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Humans of New York and The Death of a Dream

If you ever want to learn more about people, I highly recommend Humans of New York, a project where a photographer takes a picture of various people on the streets of NYC and then asks them an interview question like, “If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”

The results are sometimes humorous, often profound, occasionally a bit off-color, and always fascinating.

A few days ago, I saw this picture.

This is the caption that went with it: “I had a whole vision. I wasn’t a pro, but I could film from different angles and stuff. I was going to have a whole YouTube channel with different kids doing rap battles. I worked really hard at it, but nobody except my friends ever looked at it. And all the adults in my life told me that I was wasting my time. So one day I got mad at life, and started deleting, deleting, deleting, until it was all gone.”

One commenter wrote, “This is one of the saddest things I’ve seen here.”

Other responded to this comment with disbelief and anger, and I could understand why. Sometimes people on Humans of New York talk about their five-year-old child’s death or about a family situation full of abuse or about the hardships of moving to the US from another country with no friends or family. All of these things are incredibly sad, and have a much deeper impact than a few deleted YouTube videos.

In my head, I know this. But my heart agreed with the original commenter.

You know why? Because in that man’s words, you can hear the death of a dream.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Angels Are Not Cute and Fluffy

I was in sixth grade, and it was one of those banner years where our children’s choir got to take up the whole Sunday service with a musical that we started practicing in September.

And after tryouts, I was not happy with the role I got, even though it was one of the leads. “I didn’t want to be the angel,” I remember muttering in the car after we got our parts handed out.

"I am super cute, and I know it." (I 100% did not look like this.)

In this particular production, the angel’s name was Chrissy, and she was a sighing, ditzy girl who giggled a lot and did absolutely nothing to contribute to solving the mystery of the play except make obvious statements and sing a solo of “What Child Is This?”

Part of my dislike of my part was the aforementioned lack of depth in the character. Part of it was because, growing rapidly toward a gawky twelve, I was becoming aware that girls with huge glasses and bowl cuts weren’t supposed to get the part of the pretty, popular angel. I was told I might even—gasp!—have to paint my nails for the performance.

“Angels weren’t girls, anyway,” I continued. “I would be the sissiest angel ever.”

"Hey, if you wanted to, you could maybe look over there at the star. Please."

By the time I got to high school, my glasses were gone, my hair longer, and my sense of exegetical certainty even more firmly ingrained. I was writing the dramas for our youth group and hadn’t lost that angels-aren’t-sissy chip on my shoulder. I insisted on making all angels in my Christmas skits male. Because they basically all were in the Bible. (The guys in the youth group didn’t all appreciate this, since angel costumes are not usually designed with males in mind.)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

King John's Christmas

(This week, I decided to post one of the children's plays I wrote for Plays magazine but couldn't sell because the poem it quotes won't be in the public domain for eleven years. So enjoy!)

King John’s Christmas
by Amy Green
Adapted from the poem by A. A. Milne

Freddy—servant boy
Emma—servant girl
King John—a selfish ruler
Lord Hastings
Lady Hastings
Young John

Setting: King John’s office. There is a desk at center, with stacks of papers and several Christmas cards propped up on the edge.

At Rise: Minstrel, carrying a guitar or other stringed instrument, stands down right. Housekeeper and Freddy stand at far left. Emma is scrubbing the floor near center stage.

MINSTREL: Well, it’s Christmastime again. And that reminds me of a story from my days playing music in the royal court of old King John. Maybe you’ve heard of him.

FREDDY: Heard of him! He’s a regular slavedriver, that one.

HOUSEKEEPER: Only thing stiffer than him are his dress shirts—after he has me iron them a dozen times each.

FREDDY: Nothing but work, work, work, every day of the year. (He and HOUSEKEEPER exit left.)

EMMA: Even on Christmas.

MINSTREL: That’s right. Even on Christmas. He’s an interesting man, that King John.
(Strumming guitar)     King John was not a good man–
                                    He had his little ways.
                                    And sometimes no one spoke to him
                                    For days and days and days.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Pixar Movie Advice for Finals Week

Yes, I know this is Saturday, and that means I'm supposed to post something really deep and thought-provoking. Go back in the archives to find one of those posts if you want to.

However, since I have lots of friends still in college who are studying for finals (or, you know, they should be, anyway), I present to you...

Seven Pixar Clips That Will Help You Ace Your Exams

I didn't actually use clips from Monster's University, because that would be too obvious.
Seriously. Animated movies hold a lot of wisdom. Also, I like these clips and wanted to give you an excuse to procrastinate for ten minutes. Enjoy.

One: Toy Story

Finals Week Takeaway: Nothing beats an highly organized plan of attack. Your chances of acing those finals are better if you treat studying like an all-out war.

Two: Monsters Inc.

Finals Week Takeaway: Discipline pays off. And montages make everything better. You probably should create one of your studying routine. (Vocab flashcard drills and coffee runs would make a super interesting training montage. Quality stuff.)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The White Witch's Holiday Gift Guide

Today it snowed in Minneapolis. This, to anyone who knows approximately one fact about Minnesota, is not surprising and doesn’t deserve an announcement. But it was the first significant snow, a Christmas season snow, the kind that does more than soak your socks and coat the roads with slush.

It takes you to Narnia.

Or, at least, it did for me. But then, I’m in Narnia probably half of the time anyway. Even just on this blog, I’ve written about Edmund and Star Wars Mafia, Cair Paravel and heaven, Susan and death, and always winter, never Christmas.

Nearly every time I play hide-and-seek or push aside coats in a closet, I feel around for pine needles. I’m almost ashamed about how excited I got the day in C.S. Lewis class (yes, it’s a class) when we ate Turkish Delight. And one year, when I had to pick up two boxes from the post office and it was snowing, I brought an umbrella along and paused under a lamppost for a while, hoping that someone would come by, recognize the allusion, and be suitably impressed. No one did. It was quite disappointing.

But tonight I was curled up in my armchair, looking out at the snow, and I remembered Father Christmas.

It’s kind of a random little incident in the middle of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The Beavers and the Pevensies (sans Edmund) are on the run from the White Witch, when all of a sudden they hear jingle bells. But the sleigh doesn’t belong to the dreaded Ice Queen, but to Father Christmas himself!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

What if You're Not Feeling #soblessed?

Ugh. Why are all of these people thankful for such happy things?

This uncharitable sentiment is brought to you by…well, me. It was my first instinct as I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed this month and saw an explosion of thanks-giving. My second instinct was to be deeply ashamed that I grumbled about heartwarming posts about “the LOVE of my LIFE,” the ones marked cheerily with “#soblessed.”

Pinterest has a lot of happy, thankful people (who make pretty memes).

And another part of me felt a little smug that I was not at the point of publicly gushing a list of wonderful things about my life to social media. Because sad is happy for deep people.

So I started writing a response to those Facebook posts:

There are some very happy things that I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for the smell of something cooking in my Crockpot when I come back to my apartment. I’m thankful for that feeling that settles over you when you sing old hymns and they still mean something. I’m thankful for crunch fall leaves, wonderful co-workers, good books, hearing little kids laugh, friends who care about me, people with British accents reading audiobooks, discovering I actually like oatmeal, and all the other blessings that it’s okay to put on Facebook.

But there are other things I’m thankful for.

I am thankful for weakness—from the ache of fragility during fasting to tiny risks of being honest with others.

I am thankful for uncertainty, especially the kind that comes with humility about something bigger than me.

I am thankful for fear of inadequacy, because it’s a nice change from pride.

I am thankful for silence, for the focus it provides and for the way it jerks the approval of others completely out of your possible motivations for doing something.

I am thankful even for silence from God, and I’m not quite sure why yet, except that if God always did what I demanded and responded when I wanted, he wouldn’t be much of a god.

I am thankful for goodbyes and the way they hurt, for mail that can’t turn into hugs, for conversations that won’t happen anymore, for long-distance friendships that aren’t the same, because they are broken things that point to a reality where brokenness won’t exist.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Why Extroverts Need to Read The Velveteen Rabbit

Ah, Myers-Briggs and children’s literature. The most natural combination in the world.

But really now. The connection will make sense eventually, I promise.

The Velveteen Rabbit, a heartwarming children’s story by Margery Williams, is about a stuffed rabbit who is loved by a little boy. Think Toy Story, but with scarlet fever. (Read the whole thing. It’s delightful.)

My favorite part of the book is when our hero talks with an old toy horse about how toys become Real:

“Real isn't how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn't happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time.”

So, here’s my thought: extroverts sometimes have a problem being Real.

Now, extroverts are not shallow people. This is a common misconception, probably because we sometime say stupid things when processing out loud (instead of processing internally first and only saying the things that sound really smart). And also because introverts will often see us as melodramatic and attention-seeking. Really, though, extroverts are capable of deep thoughts just like introverts.

We sometimes struggle, though, with shallow relationships. And with projecting a shallow image of ourselves so that everyone will like us.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Three Things I Learned From Ender’s Game, Part Three

The Power of Words

“There are times when the world is rearranging itself, and at times like that, the right words can change the world.”

One of my heroes is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the theologian-pastor who plotted to kill Hitler, and maybe more importantly, stood against him even back in the early days when the Nazis were changing things mostly through creeds and committee meetings. He thought deeply and wrote powerfully, using words that cut through empty rhetoric to get to the truth.

Hitler was mentioned in Ender’s Game. He’s always the one we look back on, maybe the one we will look back on forever into the future, as a person who accomplished despicable things because he had both clear insight into how people think and the ability to craft words and make them beautiful.

I have clear insight into how people think. I have the ability to craft words and make them beautiful.

I could be Hitler.

Or Bonhoeffer. Or Ender’s sister Valentine, who “could persuade other people to her point of view—she could convince them that they wanted what she wanted them to want.”

That same passage could be describing me. And that terrifies me. Because even if there is no chance that I will commit the atrocities that Hitler did, what happens if someone else does? Won’t I be responsible to say something, do something?

I am an ordinary person in (so far) ordinary times. Bonhoeffer had Hitler. Valentine had a corrupt world order. All I seem to have is an alarm clock that goes off too early, people who don't know how to merge, and an enormous heap of laundry. Hardly the setting for the rise of a hero.

Sometimes I don't want to be one anyway. Sometimes I wonder what to do with the intelligence, empathy, and words I have been given. And, probably the most common "sometimes," sometimes I wish I had more opportunities to be heroic.

Either way, I closed Ender's Game with the certainty of several things: I shouldn’t want to be a genius. I can’t take on all the suffering of the whole world. And I could still be a hero.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Who Is My Neighbor?

When I was fourteen years old, a freshman in high school who was still trying to grow out my former bowl cut and convince everyone that the cool kids read apologetics books, I remember being crammed in an auditorium, watching the most melodramatic performance I’ve ever seen. It was trying to scare us all from poor life choices by showing us different horrible outcomes that will probably happen to you and everyone you love if you even think about doing drugs. Ever.

I was so uncool that I didn’t even know what half of the slang terms in the play meant. But there’s one part that I remember, one that probably had the deepest and most lasting effect on me (which is saying something, since the play also involved a boy who mutilated himself under the influence of a hallucinogen, and a girl wearing a rubber mask with severe burns).

A punk kid paced beside a dumpster onstage, telling us about how he became a heroin dealer. “I know what you’re thinking,” he said, eyes accusing, looking right at me, the one who worked so hard to be invisible. “You feel sorry for me. But then you’ll throw some money into the plate for the poor white kid from the ghetto to buy off your conscience.”

And I thought, Yes. That’s me.

From that day on, little Amy, in all her determination and semi-self-righteousness, decided that she would not give to a cause unless she was personally invested in it in some way. And she did so with the best of intentions, because she didn’t want to be that Christian who appeased her conscience by tossing American dollars at heartbreak and sorrow and walking away unchanged.

Over the years, I accumulated other little prejudices about generosity, most of them somewhat logical: if you don’t volunteer or at least pray, it doesn’t count. Short-term mission trips are a waste and I won’t support them. I can’t care about all the causes, so I have to block some out and willfully ignore them. My heart can only break so many times.

There are bits of truth in there. But there are also some extremes that aren’t helpful. By putting up those barriers on generosity, I was limiting God. I was making up arbitrary rules instead of being open to what the Holy Spirit wanted me to give to. I was saying God couldn’t possibly give me emotional strength to handle whatever suffering he brought into my path.

I was saying that only a select few of the least of these—the ones I personally care about—can really be Jesus.

I had a long conversation with some friends yesterday about generosity and giving in our culture. The set-up was this: most of us also have the resources to give a lot more than we are currently giving, spending it instead on the milkshakes and movie tickets of everyday life. And, in a matter of minutes, we can know about almost all the suffering of the world. Every sex trafficking ring, ever natural disaster, every AIDS orphan, every persecuted minority barely escaping genocide. We can see their faces, not just their statistics, streaming by us, thousands of empty bellies and tumor-riddled organs and blank, hopeless eyes per second.

So what does it mean to love your neighbor in a global society?

Who is that beat-up person you pass by on the street, the one you could do something for? What will we be held accountable for doing or not doing because we both have so much and know so much?

It’s an incredibly difficult question, one that I’ve written about briefly before but haven’t really answered.

After this discussion, one of my friends posted this link to a fund for a girl who went to her college, a 24-year-old with one of the most painful diseases ever to come out of the Fall, who needed to raise money for brain surgery.

I don’t know this person. I am not emotionally invested in this cause.

But you know what I am emotionally invested in? Learning to be the kind of person who cares about others, even when they’re strangers.

All those years ago, little high school Amy felt convicted, and she should have. But maybe she had the wrong response to that conviction. Maybe, in an attempt not to be the high-and-mighty judgmental Christian who gave without feeling, she became the slightly selfish, experience-focused Christian, who couldn’t give without feeling. Who couldn’t give unless there was something in it for her—if she couldn’t pack the shoebox or write the letter to the missionary or see the face of the sick person she brought food to.

I was wrong. So I gave to Laura, and I'd love it if you would too, right here:

Laura needs it, sure. But I think we also need it. I did, anyway. I needed to be reminded what generosity is and isn’t. I needed to see what I’ve made it into.

I needed to give and remember that Laura is Jesus too.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Act Like Men?

Two years ago, during my internship at Focus on the Family, the male interns (who were outnumbered 2:1) decided they needed a little break from all the estrogen and decided to have a “Guy’s Night.”

The following Facebook announcement was posted: “Hey fellas, this is what’s up: We’ll meet at 8 and start the movie at 8:45. It’ll give us plenty of time to dress up in camo, sharpen our knives, and grill all this steak we bought. Don't forget to bring your man food of choice, a can of beans, a shotgun, and a toolbox. *Note: Any man who brings salad or fruit (especially fruit salad) will be ‘taken out back’ & ‘put down’ Old Yeller-style.”

The girls responded to this event by making brownies and watching “The Bachelor.” (Except not me, because my love of chocolate could not overcome my hatred of romantic “reality” TV.)

The extreme stereotypes of the Facebook comment (completely meant as a joke) are ridiculous. But the guys still watched a war movie with an absurd body count and the girls sighed over what’s-his-name with a rose.

Gender stereotypes exist, and, to a point, that’s not a bad thing. Men and women, in general, are different. Cool. I am totally fine with that, even when the things that my gender typically enjoys—shopping, talking about boys, holding adorable babies, watching chick flicks—are not on my personal list of favorite activities.

But I’m okay with those stereotypes because I know that breaking most of them does not have anything to do with who I am and what I’m worth.

There was a lot of uproar about Mark Driscoll’s “Act Like Men” conference. Some claimed that there were lots of jabs at gender stereotypes and a swaggering machismo attitude about the event, or that the entire idea and name of the event was exclusive and offensive to women. Others said that the event was not about "manly men" asserting their control at all, but that it focused on embracing God’s call, rejecting sin, leading with grace.

I, clearly, wasn’t there, so I can’t really take a side. But it does bring up something very important: the issue of gender and what it means to be a man or a woman affects us very deeply. It riles people up, gets them talking, makes them defensive.

But maybe it shouldn’t. The issue of gender roles—what the Bible says about how men and women should live—is good to talk about (and also extremely controversial). But whether you fit a certain definition of masculinity or femininity is just not all that important in Christian theology.

Over and over and over in the New Testament, we are practically slapped upside the face with the fact that our identity is in Christ. The phrase “in Christ” (or “in Him”) is used over 125 times. If you read them all, they say wonderful and deep things about what that means, but beyond the implications and application is the mere fact that we are defined by our association with Christ. And nothing else.

One of my roles is a woman, and, depending on your perspective, that may mean different things. But my identity is not in my womanhood, just like it’s not in any of my other roles: sister, publicist, daughter, friend, blogger, fan of Calvin and Hobbes, player of Settlers of Catan.

Those things describe what I do, and what I do does relate to who I am (or at least how you perceive me). But there’s only one thing that ultimately defines me, even when I forget that it does: my relationship with Jesus.

When God looks at you, he doesn’t see the labels of “engineer,” “American,” “student,” “athlete,” “dad,” “Caucasian,” or even the most basic of our labels: “man” or “woman.” He sees “redeemed by Christ.” If we put our identity in any of those other labels, our worth is determined by how well we perform those roles.

If I believe God judges me as a writer, I must accomplish great things through my writing, never make mistakes, and always represent him perfectly. If I believe God judges me as a friend, what other people think of me suddenly becomes all-important.

And if I believe God judges me as a woman, then I’ll spend all my time checking off points on a stereotype scorecard: bakes awesome food (+5), doesn’t wear much make-up (-10), owns heels (+2 per pair), still single at the ancient age of 22 (-100), fairly emotional (+20), would rather have a theological conversation than talk about celebrity crushes (-20).

(Same thing for men, but insert references to weight-lifting, sports, and bacon. And being swift as a coursing river, forceful as a great typhoon, strong as a raging fire, and mysterious as the dark side of the moon.)

Although as far as arbitrary stereotypes could do worse than this one.
But God doesn’t judge me by any of those standards. God judges me as someone redeemed by Jesus. That’s it. And when I realize that, I don’t really care what either side of the gender roles debate implies that I should or shouldn’t do or think or say or be.

Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” is not saying that there are no differences between genders. It’s saying something far more radical: that any difference in role or position, whether that is gender or racial or economical, does not matter to God because he sees us only in Christ.

Now, when it comes to practice, things may be more complicated. Maybe our definition of what a gender role is has become too narrow. Maybe we should stop portraying only one kind of man or woman in our movies, blogs, and sermon illustrations. Maybe we make jokes too often about amusing stereotypes, allowing them to become images that people are trying (and often failing) to live up to.  Those are all good things to talk about and debate.

But I find it comforting to know that God doesn’t need us to live up to someone’s definition of what it means to be a man or a woman. The command “Act like Jesus” is harder than “Act like men” or “Act like women.” But I’d argue that it takes a whole lot of pressure off too…and that it’s what God actually wants from our lives.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Three Things I Learned From Ender’s Game, Part Two

The Danger of Empathy

“I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them....I destroy them.”

Once, at Socrates’ Café, a discussion group at my college, we talked about which superpower we would rather have: truth or empathy. Truth meant that, when touching someone, they could not lie to you. Empathy meant that by touching someone you could either let them feel your emotions or feel their emotions yourself.

I lobbied pretty hard for empathy, because I thought I would use the truth ability in the wrong ways and for the wrong reasons. I was probably right about that. I also said that empathy would force me to see people as victims with stories, to understand why they do the things they do. Maybe I was right about that too.

But, when I read Ender’s Game a month or so later, I realized something else: if the truth ability would corrupt me, the empathy gift would crush me. What happened to Ender showed that pretty clearly. We can’t take on emotions that aren’t our own. We have a limited capacity for love, and too many things are broken. It would kill us.

There was a time my freshman year of college where I absolutely refused to sing “It Is Well with My Soul.” Partly because some people I cared about were going through a hard time, and partly because it was Social Justice Week. (It is not the intention of this week to overwhelm you with all the suffering of the world—from starvation to sex trafficking to domestic violence—but that does tend to happen.)

How I dealt with this is a long story that I’ve already told once. But the short of it is that I realized we can’t love the whole world. We have to settle for loving our neighbor, and that’s all that God asked of us in the first place.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Cliché of Beauty

Novelist Lionel Shriver wrote an essay where she claimed that “fiction writers’ biggest mistake is to create so many characters who are casually beautiful.”

Well, now. Them’s fightin’ words.

Because you can't possibly be as attractive as the protagonist in the book I'm reading. Even though you have the distinct advantage of being real.

But before you start pointing to the few books where there is an overweight protagonist or a love interest with crooked teeth, understand that Shriver wasn’t really telling writers they ought to make all of their characters ugly. She merely pointed out that, in fiction, we don’t think it’s strange to be in a world populated with beautiful and handsome people in a much greater percentage than we would find in the real world.

Romance novels are almost inevitable offenders here, but other genres are not excused either. Most books we read are filled with good-looking people. Shriver puts forth a few reasons why this might be. First, our culture has told us that beautiful people are more likeable, and we accept that. Second, beauty is a form of power that characters can use to get others to do things for them.

I’d add a third reason: fiction is about escapism, and almost all of us have had times where we have not felt attractive. So we want our heroes and heroines to be attractive…and we actually have control over this.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Three Things I Learned From Ender’s Game, Part One

I had an existential crisis after reading Ender’s Game for the first time.

No, really. Immediately after the last page, I sat down and wrote about 3,000 words rambling about Battle School, fear, strategy, paradox, Hamlet, and the German nuclear bomb program. And also cried a little. Because that’s how I deal with intellectual/emotional crises (and it’s usually never just one or the other).

I will not make you suffer through that. Here, in a much more coherent form than that first journal, are three reasons why I found Ender’s Game to be beautiful and depressing at the same time.

The Loneliness of Genius

“Humanity does not ask us to be happy. It merely asks us to be brilliant on its behalf.”

Whenever I read a book or watch a movie where there is a character who is a genius, whether it’s Cobb in Inception or Josh in Searching for Bobbie Fischer or Catherine in Proof, I want to be that person.

I want to be a hero. To be an extraordinary person in extraordinary times.

But then I realize that almost all geniuses are incredibly lonely. Cobb created a world, and it destroyed the person he loved most. Josh had his childhood taken away by others’ expectations for his chess performance. Catherine felt separated from those around her by the pressure of her ability to solve math problems. Their stories, at least the parts that focus on their extraordinary gifts, are not happy ones.

And then there’s Ender, the saddest of all. Ender’s Game is supposedly built around the concept of a team competition, but I have never read a character in all of literature who is more alone.

We were made for relationships with others. Battle School may have turned Ender into the perfect commander, but at what cost?

And would I really want that for myself? Would I really want to be exceptional when that also meant I would be longing for something I couldn’t name, crying at night for people who didn’t love me, understanding more than I could possibly feel?

No. No, I would not.