Hi, everyone. My name is Katie, and each week I’m going to give you my totally unbiased perspective of a book I didn’t read based on an interview I had with a Friends of the Library volunteer. Although the books discussed are very real and definitely read by my interviewees, they are most certainly not read by me.
For this interview, I spoke to a friend named Kayla.* Kayla was so excited to do this interview that she could hardly choose a book. When I told her it really didn’t matter what book she chose, and that I would make a mess of our interview regardless, she calmed her mind and made a decision. I then thought about how me telling someone that the book chosen for a book review doesn’t matter could be confusing–but, within five minutes, I forgot this idea entirely and carried on merrily with the rest of my day.
(Sentences and words in bold type are my own commentary. I hope you find it as amusing and disruptive as it was intended to be.)
*name was changed in order to salvage individual’s dignity
The name of this week’s book is “The Horse and His Boy” (part of “The Chronicles of Narnia” series) by C.S. Lewis.
Me: So what book are we talking about today?
Kayla: “The Horse and His Boy!”
Me: And do we know who it’s by? I find that oftentimes, people just don’t know.
Kayla: Hah! Yes. It’s by C.S. Lewis.
Me: Now, if you had to tell me in one sentence what it’s about, no matter how difficult it seems, what would you say?
Kayla: Haha...hahahahaha...give me one second because I can do this.
Me: Is that your final answer, or should I wait?
Kayla: No! You should wait! I can actually give a summary–I just have to think about it for a second.
One minute later.
Kayla: It’s every man’s journey from being lost and unknown to discovering [his or her] divine identity and purpose.
Kayla: That’s what it is.
Me: Awesome. Now, do we have any main characters?
Obviously we do, Katie.
Kayla: Mhm! Shasta...is a boy. I’m assuming you can figure out how to spell that–it’s “phonetical.”
Kayla: I mean “phonetic!”
Kayla: And Bree is the horse. I’m kinda shocked that I can remember all this, but I really love this book.
Me: And you’re doing a great job. I can tell you that what usually happens is people agree to do the interview, but as soon as we’re in it, they forget everything about the book–the characters, most of the plot, often the title. So we end up talking about a nonexistent book. It’s fun.
Kayla: Well, I thought of the book and said, “I’m gonna remember this book because I love it so much!”
Me: So, anyway–the book. How does it start out? Who are Shasta and Bree? How does it unfold?
Kayla: Shasta is a slave in a fisherman’s town. When the book begins, this fancy, out-of-town Middle-Eastern man brings a horse to the town. Bree is the horse. And through some turn of events, Shasta figures out that Bree can talk, and Bree invites Shasta to run away with him figuring it will be easier to run away (as a horse) without being caught if he has someone on his back (Shasta). And the horse is trying to teach the boy how to ride since the boy has never ridden a horse–and Bree is a war horse, so he’s used to being ridden by people who know how to ride.
Me: See, when I think of a “Christian author,” as C.S. Lewis is, I don’t think of “funny” or “ridiculous,” but the way you’re saying this is making it seem like it’s both of those things.
Kayla: Oh, C.S. Lewis is [bleepin’] hilarious!!!
Me: I can’t put that word in the interview.
Kayla: Figure out another word! It’s important!
She was emphatic about using a swear word, but for the sake of library levity, I hath replaced it with “bleepin.’”
Me: Ok, ok, ok. Swear word included. So–Bree is gonna teach Shasta to ride him so they can both escape. Why does Shasta want to escape?
Kayla: He’s a young slave with no life options.
Me: I see. So what happens next?
Kayla: Well, at one point in their escape attempt, they are chased by a lion, and another night, two lions, and through this they come across a girl escaping from her life on another talking horse. And the lions chase them together into this dead-end area where a Merlin the Wizard-type character appears in this secret garden-type oasis in the middle of a forest. But the lion mauled the girl’s back, so the wizard-y guy helps take care of the [her]…(and a whole “bunch of other stuff” happens, but you’ll have to actually read the book to figure that out).
Me: Whoa. That’s a lot.
Kayla: Well, that’s nothing. There’s another big chase near the end where Shasta finds out he has a king twin.
Kayla: And everyone ends up getting separated as they meander through this city...and coming back together. It’s a lot.
It’s a lot.
Kayla: Turns out the girl is of royalty and doesn’t wanna be married off to whoever she was set to marry, so that’s why she ran away. It’s the kind of classic story in that way. She wants to go have adventures and be a person!
Me: Is this a love story in any way?
Kayla: It’s very innocent because they’re both 12. And the book is told from the perspective of a 12-year old. But yes and no, because they do end up getting married at the end–but that’s not really central to the plot.
Me: So, I’m sure more goes wrong in this story. How do they wiggle out of it?
Kayla: Ooh, it’s that “wiggling” I might not fully remember. But I do remember that, when they were all traveling through the city, the kids had to lead the way even though the talking horses knew better because they were older and wiser. But they couldn’t talk, otherwise they would all be found out, and not all horses are talking horses–just some like them. And their freedom lies in their ability to not act like they’re talking horses.
Me: Dot, dot, dot?
Kayla: At the end, they end up having to cross a desert to find each other again. And that’s the part I can’t remember. But I do remember a lot about them being confused with their royal-type twins. Both of them had twins!
Me: Sounds like a soap opera!
This twin switch ploy is classic soap opera. Take it from me–I used to watch a lot of them with my mom.
Kayla: A lot happens, but I can’t remember exactly how they are reunited.
Me: I’ll do some Google-ing. This usually happens at some point in the interview.
I was too lazy to do any Google-ing, so if this book sounds good to you, come to the library and checkkk it out!
Kayla: And, after all that is when they once again encounter the wizard in the forest and...oh, man, now I wanna go read the book again.
Me: Excellent, haha. Now, how does this thing end?
Kayla: Well, there’s a background plot with the grownups, which I love, because even though the story is about the kids, there’s a grownup plot happening behind it all. And there’s a war going on with a neighboring land, which the kids found out through their traveling through the city. And a lot happens...but long story short, Shasta ends up meeting his real family, the family of the twin he didn’t know he had until this whole story happened. They had been separated at birth. He is also of royalty.
Kayla: And the girl ends up getting healed by the Merlin dude after she was mauled. And we find out that the lion who mauled her, whose name is Aslan, is really like the central, God figure in this whole series who created Narnia and all these realities.
Me: So why did he hurt the girl??
Kayla: Well, he’s always behind the scenes messin’ around with things, pulling the strings. And he put Shasta and the girl together by chasing them and mauling her in the way he did. Also so she would meet the wizard.
Me: That’s harsh.
Kayla: Yeah! That’s life! You know what I’m talkin,’ about, Katie!
I did know what she was talkin’ about.
Kayla: God don’t play games. Well, he does, but often they’re not fun games.
Me: Not quite Bingo.
Kayla: But eventually this all resolves, and the boy and girl get married, and he comes king.
Kayla dreamily sighs.
Me: I’m almost afraid to ask this question based on how emphatic I believe your response will be but...would you recommend the book?
Kayla: OH MY GOD, YES! Why were you afraid to ask that??
Me: I thought maybe the phone would break and a crack of lightning would part the sky and explode in front of me.
And in this exact moment, both of those things definitely, for real happened.
Kayla: That’s not too far off, honestly, but yes–I would recommend the book. I love it. It’s one of my favorites.
Me: Now, if you could recommend this book to a famous person...or a type of person...who would it be? Who likes this book?
Kayla: Hmmm...anyone who can appreciate fantasies, fairy tales, and things of that nature. But really people who can honor that there’s so much more truth in child-like-ness than in adult-ness. You’ve got to be able to appreciate the perspective of a 12 year old. And if you can do that, you’ll love the book.
Me: Sounds like an amazing book. If you could make a noise to describe this book, what would it be?
Kayla: See, this is the question I would think you’d be scared about.
Me: I’ll take a step back.
Kayla was loving this and took a serious moment to consider which noise she should make.
It’s gotta be a full moon.
Me: Now, I’m kinda wondering, just for me...because I’m a conspiracy theorist. Do you believe that any part of this is real? I know this is classified as fiction, but do you think C.S. Lewis was writing from his reality in a way?
Kayla: I do.
Me: What’s the story with that?
Kayla: I think this was told from a place of collective subconscious memory. We all contain in our DNA all the stories of...everything. And even though this was maybe just bits and pieces of stories put together...they all were real in some way–they all happened at some point. He just happened to be the one to sew these stories together in this order and make this fabric out of it.
Me: Incredible. Thanks so much, Kayla.
Kayla: You got it.