The Type of Love that Writes A Trilogy

In the Acknowledgements of The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisin leaves readers with insight on the journey that she has endured in writing this trilogy. Of all the moving things she said I was most impacted by the assertion she makes on page 416:

“Where there is pain in this book, it is real pain; where there is anger, it is real anger; where there is love, it is real love.”

Without realizing it, I began creating a mental checklist on these emotions and how they revealed themselves throughout the trilogy. It was easy to pinpoint instances that enticed rage or pain, but I seemed to stumble when I considered love.  Then finally (finally) it hit me.

During this semester many of my classmates have witnessed my different episodes of animated outbursts fueled by in-class revelations or reflection. Whether it was explaining why I cried for 15 minutes when Alabaster died, or addressing the gut-wrenching rage at overcame me when I learned of the Niess—of the Briar Patch— my recognition and reaction to these angry, painful moments were (selfishly?) immediate. But, love? Sure,  I’ve kept track of the mention of love and how it connects different characters in complex ways, but it wasn’t until I read this section of the Acknowledgement that I revisited the impact of love. This is when I learned that this trilogy, the telling of Essun’s story, is an expression of love, specifically of Hoa’s love for Essun.

In The Stone Sky Essun asks Hoa about what happened to Alabaster, and indirectly what is happening to her as her body changes to stone.  When she draws the conclusion that Alabaster is in the process of becoming a stone eater she insists on seeing him. Hoa’s refusal of this request is reasoned with: “because we are fragile at the beginning, like all new creatures. It takes centuries for us, the who of us, to cool” (Jemisin 282). At the mention of the identifier “who” I am immediately reminded of a moment in The Obelisk Gate where Alabaster tries to explain to Essun the otherness that seems to exist in stone eaters and their identities: “Imagine trying to remember five thousand years ago. Then thousand. Twenty. Imagine forgetting your own name, That’s why they never answer, when we ask them who they are” (Jemisin 168).

But, love. It is also in The Oblesik Gate that we learn—through Lerna’s questioning of Hoa’s attachment to Essun—that the motivation for Hoa’s action is: “I love her, of course” (Jemisin 382). Moving forward to The Stone Sky with this in mind Hoa’s decision to recount Essun’s life to her takes on a whole different meaning, especially when he explains that: “[It is] Not to force you into a particular shape, mind you. From here on, you may become whomever you wish” (Jemisin 397).

So now, after completing this indescribably moving trilogy, I must come to grips with that fact that for however long the process takes (years, decades, centuries?), Hoa’s love has pushed him into telling Essun the story of herself just to ensure that she is granted a choice as to who she will become.

“where there is love, it is real love.”


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