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Quotes: The Nightingale

I realized that, over a year ago, I wrote a post called "Quotes: Audacity", and that this post did really well (it's actually Reading is Inevitable's most read post!), and yet I never wrote another post of quotes from a book. I liked writing that post, too. I like sharing quotes I like from books. That's why I started doing it on our bookstagram page. So why did I never write another one of these "quote blog posts"? I don't know. But I intend to write at least another one.

And that's why I'm here today. Well, there's that, and then there's also the amazing book that is The Nightingale. If you've read some of my recent blog posts or have poked around a bit, you would know that exactly a month ago I published my book review on The Nightingale, in which I explained my love for it and why you should read it yourself. And while I actually have another post in the works on that book because it definitely deserves more than one post, that one's going to take a bit, so why not share some quotes from it in the meantime? You know: just to keep it fresh in your minds?

So, here you go: four quotes from Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale. And, if you haven't yet read the book (because there most certainly will be spoilers in this post), then what are you waiting for? Go put it on hold at your local library and read my book review in the meantime. Then you can come back to this post! ;)

(Unless you don't mind spoilers, although they do spoil the whole book. That's why they're called spoilers, right?)

He turned to her. In the corona of candlelight, his face looked haggard and worn. "It wouldn't hurt you to be afraid, you know."

Was that a threat? "Of you, Papa? Or of the Nazis?"

"Are you paying no attention at all, Isabelle? You should be afraid of everyone. Now, get out of my way. I need a drink."
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah; pg.187

Quick note before I write a bit about why I like this quote — The page numbers throughout this post are written using the 2015 hardcover layout of the book. With other editions the numbers may vary.

Okay, moving on, I like this quote because I really like what her father said. "'You should be afraid of everyone.'" First of all, I think that's such an important thing for Isabelle to hear. Sure, she's a very strong and amazing female character, don't get me wrong, but one of the things that she needed to learn (and eventually learned) was that she sometimes needed to be more careful and "soft." (Alternatively, her sister, Vianne, learned to be strong for others and to face problems.) In this particular instance, I'm referring to her being more careful. He's warning her that there are dangers in the world, especially in a world at war. After all, he has experience enduring a war. While he fought and saw all that humanity has to be ashamed of, Isabelle was only a toddler, unaware. I should add that, for these reasons, it's also such an important moment and step towards her realizing that her father is still her father. Even after all the distance and the coldness between them, he still cared for her, which we definitely see in the end of the book when he literally gives his life for her. 

In him, suddenly, she saw someone foreign, a broken man where a cruel, careless man had always stood.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah; pg.199

Just to refresh your memory a bit, this is when Isabelle realizes that her father is in fact not actually working for the Nazis, but instead is working undercover for the resistance. In a way, this relates to what I was talking about in the last quote, about how her father is still a father. What I really like in general is the idea of change and how altered one's perspective of someone really can be in this quote. I like the complexity to it, you know? Because he wasn't just a bad parent. He was a man who suffered from PTSD and depression after fighting in the war and losing his wife. He was a father who left his kids in the hands of someone else because he didn't know how to take care of them even though it hurt him. Sure, he could have done better even though he suffered, but I love the way Hannah painted his pain and his attempt at redemption, because we've all done something we're not proud of. It's an idea that's so blatantly human and common and yet I don't see enough of it.

"I hope you never know how fragile you are, Isabelle."

"I'm not fragile," she said.

The smile he gave her was barely one at all. "We are all fragile, Isabelle. It's the thing we learn in war."
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

I don't know if there's much I can say about this one. It seems to speak for itself, you know? We all are fragile. It's true. Even if you try to put this strong exterior, you're going to break at some point. It's like those "perfect" kids you might see at school. They get good grades in all subjects, are active in school clubs and sports, and are a sociable and just generally a well-rounded student, but they still have their issues and weaknesses. I know I've seen kids like that, kids who I've wondered how they could be so amazing, but then watched as they broke down. It's just natural and a fact of life. It also ties back to what I was saying about Isabelle and Vianne's father in the last quote. Again we have this idea about making mistakes and hurting and being imperfect, and I love this book (and Kristin Hannah) for that.

"These yellow stars," Rachel said, opening her fist, revealing the ugly little flower of ragged fabric, with its black marking. "We have to wear them on our clothes at all times now."

Sarah frowned. "But...why?"

"We're Jews," Rachel said. "And we're proud of that. You have to remember how proud we are of it, even if people.... want to make us feel...bad about it."

...Vianne saw Sarah's fear and embarrassment and confusion. She was trying her best to be a good girl, to smile and be strong even as tears glazed her eyes. "Oui," she said at last.

It was the saddest sound Vianne had heard in nearly three years of sorrow.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This quote? This one is full of emotion and sadness, and it's important because we need to treat everyone with the respect they deserve. This quote hurts, and it's supposed to hurt. Sarah is just a fictional character, but there were over a million real Jewish children who probably didn't understand why they were made to go through the things they went through and why they were put down for what they believed in.

We need to respect one another. We're all human. We've all hurt like how Monsieur Rossignol hurt, and even we've made our mistakes and treated others with disrespect at times, we can still at least try to make amends like he did. What one person of a particular religion or region or race did does not define the whole. When someone attacks a group, they're attacking the children of the group as well; innocent children like Sarah who are confused and hurt and possibly ashamed for something they shouldn't be ashamed of. And when these children grow up they're not going to forget how people treated them. When you attack someone like that, especially at a young age when they're still learning and developing, they don't forget and the hurt won't go away.

So, yes. These quotes are important. They're important to me and if you see them the same way I do, piece them together the same way I did, then they should be important to you, too. It's amazing what a book can do. And still, this is only one idea from The Nightingale. One connection to the modern world. Please, take these quotes and remember them, write them in your notebook, on your wall — but whatever you do, remember the ideas behind them.


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