I just finished reading, Elephant Girl: a human story by Jane Devin. It’s a brutally honest look into a life of neglect, poverty, tragedy and humanity. The prose is exceptional, it draws you in and at times I couldn’t put it down, but it also took me about a month to finish it because it is hard to read about things that happened to this little girl, this teenager, this woman.
The story is far outside my own experiences. My eyes were opened to the realities of child abuse, poverty and the struggles some people need to overcome to just survive. The way the systems that worked to make me a successful person; my loving family, my schooling, my career opportunities are not universal, not everyone gets that foundation, it’s sad and unfortunate.
But to me, reading this book was also about more than the story. It was the experience about how I actually got the book in my hands, because I probably wouldn’t have read it without this connection. I started following @janedevin on Twitter when someone I was following tweeted a link to her blog, janedevin.com. I was captured by her writing and what she was writing about. She has an earnestness about her style and doesn’t shy away from writing honestly. It’s refreshing to read things like that. So, I followed her on Twitter and she followed me back. We occasionally exchanged tweets, you know when you are trying to do Twitter right and be engaging and form connections with people, it seemed to work. Then I started hearing more about the book she was writing about her life. Her journey to self-publishing the book took a few twists and turns. She had a KickStarter campaign to promote and market the book. I didn’t even have to read the book before I knew it would be worthwhile to contribute to the cause by supporting such a talented writer. My reward, was a copy of the book and it’s signed! I’m sure it will be worth a lot of money someday.
This is a case of social networks connecting people and the virtual friendships that can be formed over chats about your dogs or sleeveless shirts. It’s connecting people with completely different life experiences. It’s why investing time in Twitter or Facebook can be valuable. I feel my life is richer because I do it.
I also know that because of reading this book, I will be donating more of my money to groups, organizations, people that need a helping hand.
Thank you Jane for sharing your story! I look forward to the next book because I know this story is unfinished.