North To Freedom: Guaranteed To Make You Cry, And I’ll Prove It

I am so excited.

Why am I excited, you ask? Because I love Quote posts and I haven’t done one in an unfortunately long time!

Most of you probably don’t even know this… but I have done two other Quote posts – one featuring the most epic quotes of Till We Have Faces and one with the sweetest quotes of Anne of Green Gables – and you should definitely go read them if you haven’t already because they will rock your world.

I am obsessed with quotes. I hoard them. Reading is ten thousand times more lovely when you keep stumbling upon these little gems that you can pick up and put in your pocket to look at later.

Some books are amazing… and some books are classics. I think the main difference must be the number of gems.

North To Freedom is a book I’ve mentioned before – when I’m passionate about something, I bring it up so often that I become one of those annoying testimonial people. I’m passionate about the beauty and message of North To Freedom.

My goal with this and my two other Quote posts, is to persuade you to read a book. Not by ranting about it or giving it a glowing review, but by letting you have an actual taste for said book.

Okay, I’ve hemmed and hawed for long enough. Let’s get to the good part, yes?

“David was not used to bright color: he was familiar only with the various tones of gray and brown, and, of course, the blue of the sky. Well, yes, he had once seen a little red flower that had strayed inside the camp wall. Apart from that, color was something he had only heard of: he had seen only a pale and muddied reflection of it…”

My heart is just broken for David. No child of his age should be so dully factual, so quietly innocent.

David, among other things, is a hero that we can immediately understand, respect, and cheer on.

“His tears continued to flow, faster and faster, and he brushed angrily away so that the mist before his eyes should not veil that beauty from him.”

Maybe I’m going too deep, but this quote always makes me think about how sometimes we have so much – so much beauty, like David – but our tears are creating a sort of veil that hides that beauty from us.

I love how angry those tears make David. Nothing, nothing – not even his own happy tears – will hide that precious beauty from him.

I love how he claims beauty like a possession. A free possession that anyone can claim if they choose to. David knows that. And as someone who is so used to having no rights and no possessions, he is so much more thankful for the free things. The things that belong to everyone. Beauty. Laughter. A sunrise.

“…He realized vaguely that one was always quite sure what the right thing was. And it was most important to do what one knew was right, for otherwise the might come when one could no longer tell the difference between right and wrong, and then one would be like them.”

Oh, David.

Everything is so black and white to him, so stark in contrast.

But… maybe he is right, in the end? Maybe we are all “quite sure” what the right thing is, but our desire not to do it allows us to blur the lines and think it all to be blurry and unsure.

“Before he had come to that place, he had known nothing but death; there he had learned to live, to be the master of his own fate; he had learned what it felt like to wash in clean water in the sunshine until he was clean himself, and what it felt like to satisfy his hunger with food that tasted good; he had learned the sound of laughter that was free from cruelty; he had learned the meaning of beauty.”

What do I say?

David has so little… but he has everything that matters. He has sunshine and beauty. And that is enough for him.

“And the God of the Catholics seemed to leave things to a woman called Mary. Not that David had anything against women, but he knew so little about them that it would probably be better to choose one who looked after things Himself.”

This quote just makes me laugh.

That is all.

Oh, and know that I love you, my Catholic friends. But it still makes me laugh.

“He was glad he had thought of it: a God would be a lot better than a compass… though, of course, it would have been nice to have both.”

Leave it to David to say something so honest. And practical. After all, he needs a compass. A god and a compass are, obviously, not the same thing. They do not accomplish the same purpose.

The way he just casually states what everyone else does – but would be ashamed to admit – without shame. “A god is much better than a trinket. But… it would be even better to have both.”

Smooth, David. Real smooth.

“It had almost felt like possessing something, something so big that he could give some of it away.”

You have to understand that David owns nothing. He was wearing a shirt and a pair of trousers when he escaped, held up by a bit of twine. He demanded a bar of soap and was given it, as well as some bread, a water bottle, and a compass. Which he lost.

In other words, he has nothing.

Which is why this whole idea of “possessing” something – even if that something is only himself – is so important to David.

“Because if I hit you back, I’d be no better than you are.”

David is an old soul. He knows things, at ten, that the rest of us discover at sixty.

If you hit back, you’re no better than they are.

If I only I could teach this lesson to my tongue.

“Joy passed, but happiness never completely disappeared; a touch of it would always remain to remind one it had been there. It was happiness that made one smile, then. He would always remember that.”

According to tradition, he has it backwards. But does it matter what words you use as long as you understand the concept?

The emotion will go away. There will be happy moments. There will be sad moments. To some degree, we are all at the mercy of our emotions that way.

But that feeling can touch you and change you, and like David said, you can smile because you will always know that it was there.

“And if you never allow other people to influence what you’re really like, you’ve something no one can take from you…”

Identity. If you don’t allow people to make you small and mean like them, you have identity and they can’t take it and they can’t crush it.

David is a wise little boy, but he still has a lot to learn. For example, that not all changes are bad ones. And not everyone who would seek to change him, to help him grow and learn, is trying to erase his identity – they would be trying to make it stronger and more beautiful.

“He had seen what he could never have, and nothing would ever appear quite so good and satisfying as it had done before he had learned of the existence of that other life.”

This quote encapsulates growing up. When we are small, we believe that anything is possible. Growing up is seeing the hands that move the strings and realizing that it was a lie.

The magic is gone.

“…It would never be the same again: another boy had appeared, one who was not different from the rest, one who felt he belonged to a place and to people, one who was loved by someone he could love in return. And yet he would have to remain himself.”

I am going to cry.

I don’t care if this post makes you cry like I promised it would. It’s making me cry and that means it worked.

What David doesn’t know yet is that he does belong to a place and to people… he just hasn’t found them yet.

“…What one does every day should be done beautifully…”

David has the most amazing outlook on life.

He never takes beautiful things for granted, even as he grows more accustomed to seeing them.

“Because her eyes look as if… as if she’d known a great deal, and yet she’s still smiling.”

This is amazing to David.

To see all the pain and horror and cruelty the world has to offer us and yet to still be smiling at the end of it all.

And you know what? He’s right.

It’s a miracle.

“All suffering has an end, David, if only you wait long enough. Try to remember that… sorrow has its life just like people. Sorrow is born and lives and dies. And when it’s dead and gone, someone’s left behind to remember it. Exactly like people.”

My favorite bit is “someone’s left behind to remember it.” It would be a sort of betrayal if no one was left to remember it. It would mean that it hadn’t truly hurt.

“Suddenly it was the most important thing in the world to reach up the sunlight, but however hard he stretched, the sun would not reach farther than the tips of his fingers.”

I feel like this quote contains a deep and powerful metaphor… I haven’t figured out what it is yet.

“He recalled, too, all the good things he had learned about since he had gained his freedom – beauty and laughter, music and kind people… Maria… and a tree smothered in pink blossom… and a dog to walk by his side… and a place to aim for…”

There are two journeys in this story. The physical journey from a place of imprisonment and death and pain and fear to a place of freedom… and the spiritual journey from despair and listlessness and paranoia to hope.

It’s a common trope, I know.

But I love David’s journey. Because the reader makes it with him. You walk by his side through every up and down of getting lost and giving in to fear and meeting kind people and learning new things.

When David comes home, you feel that you have arrived as well.

Let’s talk about North To Freedom! Did you know that I Am David and North To Freedom are the same book? Have you read it – under either name? Have you seen the movie adaption with Jim Caviezel wearing spectacles? Do you like the movie more or less than the book?

Hint: The book is always better. Just saying.

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