This month’s theme fits perfectly with the book I read over vacation last week: Sabaa Tahir’s excellent AN EMBER IN THE ASHES.
Honestly, I pre-ordered this book back in April but hadn’t touched it after reading the first chapter the night it arrived. Why? Because I knew I would get NOTHING done if I kept reading. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. And I had too much to do.
So, I decided it would be my “present” for finishing the rough draft I’d just started. My writing time is often my reading time, and I knew that not only would I lose a much-needed week if I read past that first chapter, but I might be so stunned that I wouldn’t be able to write for at least another week. You know that feeling, right? When you read something so good that you start thinking, “Why the heck do I even try?” and have a hard time putting words on the page. Yeah, that. Well, I knew it would be a symptom and then I’d lose two weeks, not one.
Therefore, this most excellent book sat on my nightstand while the accolades piled up. Amazon’s best book of May 2015. Numerous rave reviews. A debut at No. 2 on The New York Times Bestseller list. And still it sat, calling my name.
I finally finished that rough draft in late July and immediately had to transition into a client edit. But right after that edit, I had vacation. A week in Colorado. A week where this excellent book would finally be mine.
I could not put it down. Each night in our mountain cabin, I could not WAIT for the kids’ bedtime, so that I could dig back in. I’d read on our porch until the sky was so gray the words were liquid on the page. And then I’d go inside and curl up on the couch until my parents were in bed and my husband was pointedly brushing his teeth.
Then, I ignored my family for the first five hours of our drive back to Kansas because I wanted to finish it. A stupid move because I made it to the last page and then sat there, hungover by such a good story, that I was sort of useless for the rest of the drive. (Good thing my husband offered to drive the whole way!)
What makes this book so good? As the title suggests, it’s set in a broken world where the spark of revolution has just ignited. It’s the story—told in alternating chapters—of a slave girl named Laia and a child soldier named Elias. Both rebel against their lots in life, and, therefore against the martial society (based on the Ancient Roman empire) in which they live.
Yes, it’s an entire plot stacked on the idea of rebellion. And it’s amazing. There’s something intoxicating about standing up for what you believe in—family, friends, doing what is right—and Sabaa has captured it perfectly.
What’s the best book you’ve read that has a theme of rebellion?