I recently read a book by K.A. Reynolds called The Land of Yesterday. It was a touching book about a family dealing with the accidental death of one of the children. The main character blames herself for her brother’s death and her mother sinks so far into sadness that she attempts to travel to the Land of Yesterday to find him. Cecelia sets out to save her mother and possibly her brother.
The story had many fanciful and symbolic elements. I don’t think the Land of Yesterday is so much a place as it is memories, good and bad.
Here are some quotes I felt resonated with that theme:
…knowing when to let go is one of the most important lessons we can learn in life.
…the Land of Yesterday has two sides. One is dark as death and means to trap you, but the other is bright as hope and wants to free you.
The author’s note reveals to us that the seeds of this story were planted when her mother died when Reynolds was only 7 years old.
Reynolds made references more than once in the story to The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Cecelia meets the little prince and his sheep. She learns that the sheep ate the rose that the prince once loved, and she promises to pass along a message if she happens to meet the little prince’s friend (the adult narrator).
I had never read The Little Prince and was perplexed by some of the details like the rose he once loved and the sheep who ate her. So I borrowed the book from another school library and read it.
The story follows the little prince as he tends his tiny planet. He one day sees a rose bloom on his planet and quickly grows to love her. She is conceited and demanding but he loves her all the same. One day he decides that she does not need him and so he sets out to explore the galaxy. He visits many planets and meets many adults who worry about things like money and numbers before finding his way to Earth. While on Earth he meets the narrator, an airplane pilot who is stranded in the African desert. The two become friends — not without some hurdles — but eventually they must part.
It is in this sad parting that I see why K.A. Reynolds was so touched by this story. I think Saint-Exupery was talking about innocence in children but it resonates with people grieving for a lost loved one.
“You understand…it is too far. I cannot carry this body with me. It is too heavy.”
I said nothing.
“But it will be like an old abandoned shell. There is nothing sad about old shells.”
Having recently lost one of the most important people in my life, I can see how The Little Prince can help a young soul to mend.
I recommend both books. I don’t know if I would have grasped the full symbolism as a child or maybe, I don’t get it all because I’m an adult.
All grown-ups were once children—although few of them remember.