Paradox

Rainbow Rowell Kindred Spirits Macmillan 2016

“Kindred Spirits” is a novella the bestselling US author wrote especially for World Book Day 2016 in the UK and Ireland. Its sixty-odd pages tell a sweet story of how teenage Star Wars fan Elena determines to show her independence of mind by joining a queue at her local cinema, in Omaha, for a first showing of Episode VII of the franchise. She has high hopes of being part of a tribe of fellow enthusiasts, sharing the bonhomie and exuberance that she anticipates from her understanding of such occasions. But she is disappointed that, four days before doors open, she is third in a line of only three, and that it remains so for a good many days. With so many things to contend with — her mom’s disapproval, the cold December nights, and anxieties about the call of nature and what she considers her “mid-trovert” temperament (being neither introvert nor extravert) — she fears she won’t last the four days and instead yield to the lure of home comforts.

Her fellow travellers are Troy and Gabe, with whom she has to establish a working relationship where she had instead expected the anonymity of the crowd. Troy is the garrulous confident one while Gabe is taciturn and self-contained. Elena, feeling as a newbie a natural loss of confidence, is concerned that not having seen Episodes 1 to 3 will result as well in loss of face. Everything seems to be militating against her attempt at independence. But the mini-crisis that arrives is not what she expected, nor is the fallout from that what she anticipated.

This is a delightful short story, exactly catching the angst of being a teenager, especially the sense of simultaneously being different while yet wanting to conform and belong. Balancing this paradox is, for Elena, both painful and yet delicious. For readers it must also be satisfying, as they decide whether they too feel kindred spirits with Elena and her new acquaintances — perhaps just like Star Wars fans feel they’re kindred spirits with Leia, Han and Luke.

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11 thoughts on “Paradox

    1. It was a short read and a relatively painless way to see what the fuss over author Rainbow Rowell was about.

      Please elucidate about captioned canines, I’m feeling a bit cottonwooly in the head this morning …

  1. I did not suffer this situation when going to see Star Wars for the first time – the original in 1978. I and my friends were lucky enough to get the last three seats in the cinema and they were big single screen cinemas in those days.

    1. It was certainly a big event then, wasn’t it! With at that time two kids, one 6 and the other a one-year-old, I missed out on it, only seeing it on videotape when babysitting for friends — not quite the same thing!

      Interesting to read about the protocols involved for fans queueing these days — saving places and so on.

  2. What a wonderful idea to take something as simple as a wait in line and make a story about it!

    As for whether I can relate or what my experience has been, that’s simple too: I hate crowds AND standing in line! And for those reasons I am never first for films or books. But in the end it’s good to know yourself and accept who you are, so there you go 🙂

    1. Elena actually spends most of the story in a ‘crowd’ of only three, and that usually sitting or slumped for the four days! But I’m with you, Laurie, I’m not really a crowd person: too much sensory overload plus crowds usually have a mind of their own, and that’s quite scarey. I live in Wales and know only too well how easily sheep follow the flock wherever it leads …

      🙂

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