Tha Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

by Andrea Elizabeth

My tendency is to avoid traumatizing myself, so when I read the first page plus one sentence of The Hunger Games, despite wanting to know what my daughter was raving about, I put it down. I do not like books, (somehow movies aren’t as bad, books seem more emersive, perhaps because you’re more active in paying attention), I do not like books that start out painfully describing how desperately poor the main character is. In this case how the teenage girl, starting at age 11, became the head of the family. The dad is gone and the mother voluntarily, it seems, incapacitated. Not entertaining. I couldn’t understand why this book is so entertaining to so many. After lengthy discussions with my daughter (instigated by a harsh review linked on facebook with comments that made me feel it is not right to see the movie even, because of violence to children) I am coming to believe that if you don’t identify with the character through personal experience, it’s not traumatizing to read fictional, at least, accounts.

But now a friend has asked my daughter to see the movie with her. Before I say no, I feel I have to read the darned thing with an open mind. Through page 28 (I plan on talking about content) my main thought is that it’s wrong to judge starving people. I don’t like how the real life Donner Party survivors were treated because some of them had resorted to cannibalism. Starving and extreme deprivation does something to you. Something most people don’t experience. It’s one thing to starve to death when there’s no choice, but when there’s an option, even a previously unthinkable one, it’s a different matter to turn it down. I imagine it’s like voluntarily holding your breath longer than a minute.

It’s interesting how she can’t forgive her mother. Was her checking out as desperately motivated, or was it a selfish choice at the expense of her daughter’s childhood? The dress from her mother’s glory days was so telling. She thought letting Katniss wear that was such a gift. After the unglamouous compromises to her own standing and femininity Katniss has already made in order to feed her. I have a lot more trouble forgiving that blindness too.