“The Changeling” by Victor LaValle is a strange modern story of families and monsters and (maybe, sort of) magic. Because so much of the story is about the family relationships and shared trauma, there are so many deeply affecting quotes. LaValle’s writing is beautiful without being flowery or dense.
A thought, an idea, a shared dream; parenthood is a story two people start telling together.
The book in his hand allowed him to imagine there was a time when he wasn’t the only reader in the home. He liked to believe he’d inherited a taste for texts. Maybe this book had been only the first of many his father planned to share. Apollo’s appetite for reading only grew after he found the box. Apollo read in bed and while using the bathroom. He took books to the park. He read paperbacks while he played right field. He lost books, spilled soda on them, and splotches of melted chocolate fingerprints appeared inside. Even the kindest librarians had to start charging replacement fees.
But when he looked around, he could still see the old platforms, and down on the street level, the old Jamaica, Queens. If his mother had been with him, would she have seen a third Jamaica, the one she first encountered when she was a young immigrant in the United States? How many Jamaicas might there be?
“No one wants to learn their history,” Jorgen said firmly. “Not all of it. We want our parents to provide but don’t want to know what they had to sacrifice to do it. No nation was ever built with kindness.”
He felt as if he was finally burying what had been haunting him since he was a child. A funeral not for his father but his fatherlessness.
Once he would’ve passed this off as the normal way of life. People tell little lies to get by. That goes for marriage and friendships, too. But now Apollo couldn’t brush off these untruths as benign. If our relationships are made of many small lies, they become something larger, a prison of falsehoods.
The only real magic is the things we’ll do for the ones we love.
If you’ve read it, what’s your favorite quote?
And if you haven’t read it yet, what are you doing? Go get it at your local library or bookshop! Trust me, it’s not what it seems, and it’s amazing.