Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Power of Three: a sort-of-review

The other day I finished listening to The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, a debut novel about three teen best friends who are working to either escape or accept the confines their small Tennessee town has set for them in their senior year of high school. This novel has stuck with me. It is wonderfully written with tons of depth – thoughts on religion, fate, consequence, and more are handled well. I will admit to you now that there were tears involved in three different spots. I should also mention that I listen while driving to and from work. WARNING: listen with caution, especially while behind the wheel. I thought I was going to have to pull over on the shoulder of the highway one time, but managed to compose myself.
My two best friends & myself
Now, a few days later I can’t seem to shake my book hangover. I had a think about it on the way home recently and I figured out why – these characters have stuck with me. Dill, Lydia, and Travis are so different, but manage to fit together as a three piece puzzle of outcasts. I couldn't help but think of my two best friends and myself. When you are young you think your friends will be there forever, but sometimes that is not the case. Dill, who is the shamed son of a pastor who has been put in jail for child pornography, is also dealing with the fact that his best friend Lydia will be leaving to go to college in New York by summer's end. There is also a tragedy in The Serpent King that I won’t go into detail about (spoiler, duh!) that has a huge effect on the three friends. While I can say that nothing like the tragedy in the book has happened within my group of friends, things change. As we have grown, jobs and living situations take different shapes and, as a result, we have moved on... to live in different places, but are still on some sort of adventure together. 

            After seeing this group of three reflected in my own personal group of three I had a thought: What is it about this magical mix of two boys and one girl that works so well? Speaking of magical, look at everyone’s favorite wizard besties Harry, Hermione, and Ron! The mix of Harry’s being the chosen one, Hermione’s intelligence, and Ron’s… well… Ron-ness manages to roll together into a perfect trifecta of robed friendship. Even looking at the mythological friendship of Percy, Annabeth, and Grover in The Lightning Thief, you can see the same three pronged relationship. Percy is the chosen one, Annabeth the intelligence, and Grover is a mythological creature. The third prong was part goat and it worked!
One can argue that The Hunger Games can fit the bill. Granted Katniss, Peeta, and Gale had more of a love-triangle/frenemy/government uprising kind of relationship, but they were still on the journey together. Katniss is the chosen one, Gale is the militant intelligence, and Peeta is a very strong baker. By looking at these trends it seems there is a chosen one, a brainiac, and a wild card. They could be seen as evil YA stereotypes that authors fall on, but when I look at my own life it is true. It has to be based in someone’s reality, no? Plus, if the friendship of the three very different characters makes sense then why fight it?

            I see myself in these trios who grew up together, experienced incredible things, and who, for a point in time, didn’t want things to change, but indeed they do. Melissa, Vinny, and I are still close and have even been trying to figure out what the perfect tattoo could be to represent our 20 plus year friendship.  We haven’t landed on the design yet, but I will keep you posted. While I am not sure if we fit these three archetypes – which of us is the chosen one? – I know that the power of the three of us together has only grown since we formed our trifecta in second grade in Miss Ferraro’s class. It is wonderful when a book stays with you - when you have a mirror of some aspect of your life reflected back to you from the pages. So I raise my glass to the other two-thirds of my personal trio, to Jeff Zentner, his book The Serpent King, and to his three main characters: Dill the chosen one, Lydia the blogging brain, and Travis the staff yielding wildcard.

          Now that I have put my raised glass down, which is actually a tumbler with a mustache on it, I ask who are some of your literary trios? Leave your responses in the comments below!

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