DR: Found: A Long-Lost Friend
For close to forty years, I had been searching everywhere for a book I read and loved as a child. The book was part of the small library in the two-room country schoolhouse I attended from first-sixth grade, and I checked it out again and again. The trouble was, all these years later I could not remember the author, the title (save for the word “village”) or any other identifying information about the book, except the wonderful story and the way it made me feel when I read it.
I had posted queries on various e-mail boards and entered the few bits of info I did have into every search engine I knew, all to no avail. Unfortunately, my faulty memory kept telling me to enter “Andes Mountains” in the search. I finally gave up.
But one day, I was doing some research for a novel, searching for some information about the Pyrenees Mountains. And suddenly, there it was: "my" book! I was ecstatic! I truly felt like an old and dear friend had just knocked on my door when I’d all but given up hope of ever meeting again.
Unfortunately, my book was long out of print and there were only three used copies available on the Internet. The cheapest of those was selling for $65! Ouch! Nevertheless, a lovely copy of that book now sits in a place of honor on my desk, and it didn't cost me a penny. In fact, I made money on the deal!
To make a long story a little shorter, a friend for whom I’d done a critique a while back had sent me a gift certificate to an online bookstore as a thank-you. I had somehow lost the original copy, but my friend kindly forgave me and replaced the certificate. The new copy arrived the day after I discovered my book. (Thank you again, Gina!) Then, one of the merchants offering my book for sale agreed to lower the price to less than the value of my gift certificate! I still smile thinking about it.
The Village that Slept is the story of two young teens who survive an airplane crash in the Pyrenees mountains. After wandering through the wreckage for a while, they discover a tiny baby who has also survived. They name him Tao and the little makeshift family cares for each other, living for a while in an abandoned village (the village of the title) as they make their way down the mountain back to civilization. The novel is by Monique P. de Ladebat, translated from the French, and it is every bit as magical as I remembered.
What are the books you treasured as a young reader? Are there any you’ve “lost” along the way? What books sealed your love of reading—or maybe prompted your longing to become a writer?
Deborah Raney is the author of A Vow to Cherish (Steeple Hill June 2006). Coming next: Remember to Forget for Howard Publishing, now an imprint of Simon & Schuster. http://www.deborahraney.com