I started Jason F. Wright’s book The Wednesday Letters last night just before bed and read for about a half-hour. I started up again at 9 am this morning and finished by 1:00 pm. This book is a solid 280 pages, and I’m no faster than the average reader. That’s the magic of Jason F. Wright – in The Wednesday Letters as with his other book, Christmas Jars, he creates a story so real that you almost believe you’re in the room with the characters. It almost seems as though if you were to put the book down, you wouldn’t be returning to reality; you would be leaving reality, as if your own life were some fictional world.
What’s truly remarkable about Wright’s writing is that his characters and plots aren’t remarkable – just average people going through challenges, taking life one day, one hour, and one minute at a time. Wright’s stories are not about action and superheroes; they’re about people, real people that we can relate to and love.
Of course, Wright’s characters aren’t real; The Wednesday Letters is a novel, and so is Christmas Jars. But as every novel-reader knows, sometimes characters in a book are just as real and meaningful as the characters in our lives. And when an author has the ability to make a character real like that, you know he has made a contribution to the literary world.
To be honest, each time I’ve started a Wright novel, I’ve been skeptical from the beginning. Everything is just so predictable; you know who’s going to get married, or break up, or show up, or turn out to be important at the last moment, before you’ve even gotten past the first chapter. It takes an unusual (not to mention undesirable) talent for a writer to make his story that transparent, before some of the characters are even in the same room together.
The funny thing is, the more I read, the less the level of predictability seemed to matter. Do we ever say, “Oh, well, both my parents just died suddenly and I’m about to see the love of my life that I haven’t seen for two years – gosh, why is life so predictable?” So I can predict how the characters are going to end up; big deal – how they end up still matters. I still want to read about their happy endings, like a relative who wants to see the wedding even though they’ve known for months the couple was engaged. You just care. And by the end of the book I couldn’t help but wonder: do I show my family and close friends the same kind of love and concern I feel for these characters?
Some people may see these books as overly sappy and religious, and I honestly understand that. But as a very religious and, okay, maybe a little bit sappy girl myself, this is the kind of book that totally disarms all my prepared sarcastic criticism. This book made me want to find the man of my dreams, marry him, have ten children, write love letters once a week (or, heck, why not once a day??), and grow old and die in each other’s arms...and fast, by golly! (I guess life going by so slowly sometimes is God’s way of teaching a lesson to impatient girls like me. All in good time, I suppose…)
So The Wednesday Letters was interesting. Intriguing. Emotional. Inspiring. And yes, even heartwarming (and I only use that waaaay overused phrase when my heart was genuinely warmed). For all its sappiness, what’s not to love?