15 January 2011

Post: 294: The Diviner's Tale

The Diviner's Tale by Bradford Morrow.
ISBN: 9780547382630 (Uncorrected Proof - publishes Jan. 20, 2011).

One of the things that Cassandra struggles with in this novel is whether or not to teach her sons the art of divining.  According to Morrow's work, divination requires an innate ability and is more likely to be present in those with parents who have it.  I think this is a very good question that Cassandra brings up, not only for herself, but for any parent working in a trade which might be seen as undesirable or weird by the community.

Since I can't answer this question for other people, I think I'll play the "if I have children" game.  If I have children I don't think I would want them to pursue a career like Cassandra's.  This has less to do with how I feel about it personally, and more of how my children would be perceived by the surrounding community.  For this same reason I wouldn't want my children to be fat or ugly or too tall or too short or too whatever is "unacceptable" in society at the time, because life is already too hard that I wouldn't want them to have to cope with everyone else's perceptions of them on top of everything else.  It shouldn't matter, but it does, and it's awfully hard to grow up into a normal and healthy person when people are saying things about your worth.  If you're lucky, they'll only say it behind your back and you'll never know.

On the other hand, some people are just drawn to naturally dangerous or "undesirable" jobs and there is nothing wrong with that.  I think if my future kid had a strong desire to be a tarot card reader I might pull them aside and say, "Look, there's a lot of people who don't believe in this kind of thing and will think that you're wacky," but in the long run I would still provide them with the tarot cards and maybe even take them to get their cards read.  Of course, this is much easier when I don't have an actual potential being who I will otherwise have to take care of for an indefinite period of time if they don't get some kind of viable career.

But why do we stop telling our kids they can be anything they want to be?  Why at the age of 12 was it okay for me to want to be a writer when at the age of 14 my mom was pushing me towards more "practical" career goals?  Why did my mother think a history degree was a more desirable fate for me than a certification in massage therapy?  I can almost guarantee you I would have my own business now if I had gotten that certificate.  Either our kids can be anything they want to be, or else we need to stop lying to them about that and start showing them the potential consequences of their choices.  You want to be a ballerina?  Okay, fine, here's what their day is like and they usually retire before the age of 45 because their bodies are ruined.  Still want to be a ballerina?  Good deal, let's make that happen and no you can't skip your lesson to go to Emily's birthday party.

Who knows, maybe our society would be better off with assigned jobs and roles.  Maybe it wouldn't be as horrible as depicted in dystopian novels.  Maybe we would all accept our roles and flourish in them.  Then again this is probably just the hopelessness in me talking, wanting someone to take control of my life and give me something to do.  Readers, how would you feel about your kids taking up the (dowsing) rod or another career looked on with contempt?

My review can be found on Goodreads.
LibsNote: Free copy received from publisher's booth at ALA 2010.

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