Happy Wednesday, Savvy Readers! I don’t know about you, but living in the middle of a worldwide pandemic has meant there’s been a lot of changes, and those can be scary, if not downright anxiety-inducing. But as someone who likes to live on the edge, in my first week of staying at home I decided it was time to read Emily St. John Mandel‘s Station Eleven, and honestly? I’m glad I did.
Set in the day’s of civilization’s collapse as the result of, you guessed it, a worldwide flu pandemic, Station Eleven tells the story of a Hollywood star, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a nomadic group of actors who roam the scattered settlements of the Great Lakes region in the decades after, risking everything for art and caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.
When I first started reading Station Eleven, I was immediately struck by the terror of its premise, and if you’re someone who is already anxious about the state of affairs I would urge you to exercise some caution. But despite my fear and my racing-heart, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of Mandel’s writing and the great adventures her characters were about to embark upon, and for them, I kept reading.
Beginning on a snowy night in which our famous actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear in Toronto, and on the eve of societal collapse, the story weaves back and forth in time, from the actor’s early days to fifteen years in the future when a theatre troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams between makeshift towns performing music and theatre because survival alone in this harsh new world is insufficient.
A spellbinding novel that is propelled forward by twists of fate, Station Eleven was terrifying in its beauty, but ultimately lulled me into a sense of comfort. Because I know for a fact, right now the world isn’t ending. And even if it does, the best and worst parts of humanity will remain unchanged. Humanity is resilient, and though we may not always see it, tragedy is a part of our daily lives.
Station Eleven brings all of this to the forefront, bound in a story of resilience, reinvention, and freedom. And while I know many of you are likely scared because of how unfamiliar the world might look, now is the perfect time to read Station Eleven because it reminds us that what we all need to get through this moment in history is a little hope.
Stay safe, be well, and happy reading.
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