Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel


I’ll try to trace the hold the book has on me, but what can I really say? Reading Station Eleven is like slowly peeling an orange, tearing it bit by bit until you’re at the sticky center. It’s sweet and it lingers, but oh, it stings, that little sun in your hands.

It’s a story about nostalgia: not only for what could have been but for what still exists buried underneath—like fingers on an out-of-tune cello playing a hollow song from muscle memory. Or maybe it’s always there, buzzing above our skin, like light moving over the surface of the waters, over the darkness of the undersea.

What do we remember when the lights go out? Do we tell ourselves what counts? Do we repeat lines of poetry or our own name like a mantra, stare at our own face in hotel mirrors and airports or maybe into the night sky and see a flicker of a shadow life, remnants of what once was? This is a story about longing, sorrow, isolation, grief too heavy to carry (and so we leave it behind), but it’s also a story of the preservation of beauty, the spark of hope like electricity humming and brimming to life. Resilience.

And yes, there’s fragility: maybe we spend our lives waiting for our lives to begin, stuck in the undersea, but we dream of sunlight, we dream of walking on earth, and just what else might this awakening world contain?