Have you ever seen yourself in a character only to cringe with the realization that you related to them a little too much? I know you’re all thinking about the character right now. The one whose character flaws are just a little too real for you, because they’re your flaws too. Their pain is a smidge too real for you, because it’s yours too. Or maybe you can sense their embarrassment, because you too fell in the mud in front of a cute stranger, dressed in sporting equipment armor, while trying to annihilate your reptilian foe.
Okay. Realistically, I doubt any of us can actually say we’ve been there, done that to the whole mud hole/reptilian enemy thing. Piper Cope, the main character in Turtles in the Road by Kaley and Rhonda Rhea, probably owns the rights to that particular humiliation. But, I can still relate.
There are few people that get to experience the embarrassing, quirky awkwardness that is me up close and in person. Don’t get me wrong. I embarrass myself regularly. And, yes, I’ve done it in front of cute guys, colleagues, teachers, family, friends, and many brothers and sisters in Christ. I believe in equal opportunity embarrassment and awkwardness. If I ever say anything completely brow furrowing in front of you, know I will think about it long after you’ve forgotten it. If I ever trip over nothing at all in front of you, know you aren’t alone in seeing that particular feat of natural, unrefined grace.
These are aspects of my personality I cannot hide, no matter how hard I try. But the quirkiness I’m a little better at disguising. I’m not talking about liking shows you think are weird or wanting pineapple on my pizza. I’m talking about really letting go and letting the inner Jessica Day (a New Girl reference) shine. She’s in there. And other than my parents, husband, and kids (I am so sorry kids. Really. I am sorry), there are few people who can even occasionally move me into that quirky territory. It’s attention grabbing, and I don’t like being the center of attention in that way.
But I relate to the Jessica Day’s and Piper Cope’s of the world. My inner me loves the freedom they have in being exactly who they are despite the hilarious and awkward consequences. I wish I could free that person in myself.
I may not feel at ease to bring the awkward out full force in my life, but I definitely enjoy experiencing it through characters like Piper. Stranded in a town she’s never heard of and relying on the kindness of strangers to get by and still she lets her quirky self shine full-force. And she even gets to learn about herself and her faith in the process. That’s a win to me.
I picked up Turtles in the Road after a particularly draining day at work. I wanted romance, but I wanted fun to lighten the load. If I got a dose of faith truth to go with it, even better. I got all of these and more as I laughed my way through the exploits of Piper and a host of other characters, some just as quirky as Piper. In times when we all need to erase some of the seriousness of the day to day, I hope we can find our Turtles in the Road and handle them with the gusto of Piper Cope.