Today I went to the bookstore to grab a quick gift for my niece’s 20th birthday. As I was inching my way around the YA section, I came upon the pretzeled body of a teen-something. All legs and sideways messy pony, with chipped nail polish the same color as the surface of the sun, and lean tanned shoulders sticking out from a deliberately loose tank, she sat tapping at a list with a hello kitty pen and checking it against the sprawled stacks of books in front of her. Switching and re-stacking and re-prioritizing said hard-backed and slick-jacketed intellectual food, her concentration twisted her brow. I hovered behind her, debating between stepping over her flip-flop adorned, toe-ring accessorized foot, or going around, when her focus faltered. She suddenly turned, clamping her syrupy brown eyes on me and her pen in her teeth.
“Sorry,” she said, drawing a leg out of my path.
I smiled back. “You’re fine,” I glanced at her stack of books. “Summer reading?”
She shifted her gaze back to her stacks. “I have to pick one,” she answered, releasing a choked sigh.
And right then, I was simultaneously thrilled that one book in ten was the mountain she had to climb and ruffled that one book in ten was all she could buy.
“Good luck,” I said, taking another sweeping scan of her choices. I knew what I would pick, if I were her and this was my greatest feat for the day.
Her shoulders fell. “Thanks. I want them all.”
Yeah, I do too.
“They’re not going anywhere,” I offered and she nodded. “Good to have something to look forward to.”
Later, when I was leaving, she passed me with her mother. Her eyes were bright as they met mine. She flipped the book cover into my view, sideways, but I’d recognize it anywhere. I nodded approval. If you’re going to read just one, The Fault in Our Stars is choosing wisely.