finally falling for the boy with the bread

I might be a walking cliché right now, but I just finished reading the Hunger Games series, and I am a ball of emotions.  Sad that the story is over and that I’ve lost this interesting group of well-developed “friends.”  Surprised that even though I had, at times, immense criticism of the story-line and writing, I still believe it’s one of the best stories I’ve ever read, if not straight up one of the most eerily timely stories being told today.  And, maybe most strongly, I am feeling settled. 

I was so afraid I wouldn’t like the ending, that Katniss would somehow morph into this superhero leader and the whole country would come together under a banner of love, peace and unity.  Because, neither of those things would be real.  Katniss was never a leader – she was almost entirely driven by guilt, fear and indebtedness.  She was brave, but everything was thrust upon her.  She didn’t easily or hardly ever even voluntarily choose her greatness.  And I just really couldn’t see it ending with her taking the reins and making strong, powerful and healthy decisions.  And she didn’t – she had an impulsive and purely emotional reaction to a moment, and her fate was decided for her.  I truly appreciate the intellectual honesty of the end of Katniss’ story in that way.

And seriously, thank god Suzanne Collins didn’t finish the book with a kumbaya moment in Panem.  After nearly a century of oppression and mistrust of the government and pitting entire populations against each other, you can’t just have a rebellion and make things whole again.  I so appreciated Plutarch saying “Now we’re in that sweet period where everyone agrees that our recent horrors should never be repeated.  But collective thinking is usually short-lived.  We’re fickle stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction.”  Ummm, not what any romantic wants to believe after the Hunger Games and pods and Peacekeepers and hijacking.  But the thing is, it’s the truth, isn’t it?  We can’t seem, as a species, to tire of war.  We create enemies as if it’s necessary and we always buy into the story that’s fed to us.  So yeah, chances are Plutarch will get to film more battles.  And again, I appreciate the honesty.

Finally, and this may be the most controversial reaction for the non-adolescent set who aren’t dreamy-eyed and emotionally fickle – but I truly think, the only good in the end for Katniss, was Peeta.  And I don’t mean that because he was always trying to save her life, or had puppy-dog eyes, or because he held her in the night on the train when she had nightmares.  And I don’t really mean it because they had shared experiences.  Katniss’ experiences and losses threatened over and over again to take control of her life.  To fully consume her, either into death, or into a deep depression where she would become unreachable.  And I think, as humans, our natural tendency is to feed that fear and anger and hurt.  It is easier to be in relationship with hurting and damaged people when you’re hurting and damaged than it is to seek out the light. But Peeta was Katniss’ light.  He brought her hope, and he allowed her to relax and find a form of happiness.  I had tears streaming down my face as I read the last paragraph:

That what I need to survive is not Gale’s fire, kindled with rage and hatred.  I have plenty of fire myself.  What I need is the dandelion in the spring.  The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction.  The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses.  That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that.

To me, this was Katniss finding her true inner strength.  Making a fully healthy decision for her future, and acting from a place of light inside of herself.  Allowing herself to come out of her darkness that trapped her and made her feel as if she had caused the death of everyone she loved.  To go on, and live, and even believe in goodness, maybe even inside of herself.  I admire that courage, because I know it’s not easy.  She probably would never have found it without Peeta, and that they could live their futures together bringing hope, light and eventually more life into the world was the most beautiful part of the story.