Sacrifice to the utmost degree (something I love in books).

A good sacrifice cuts right to the heart. And I don’t mean a blood sacrifice (for those of you that know I wrote a book based on the Maya). I mean when someone takes the blame or the pain for someone they care about. If it’s done right – I’ll be a fan forever.

Ever since my kids’ school installed Pet Day every June (And no I’m not holding any resentment against them for this. Really.), my kids have wanted a pet. They were fine and dandy before. My daughter is allergic to cats and dogs, so typical pets were out of the question.

They had pet rocks. (Didn’t really work that well.) When they suggested outrageous pets like snakes or sharks, it was an easy, “No.” And it was a topic of conversation I avoided.

Ah, but then my son. He persisted. And he was polite. He asked and asked and asked. He got books out at the libary on gerbils. He became an expert. Hey, his friend had a couple gerbils, so he had it on good word, that gerbils were good pets.

But, I persisted I said, “No way!”

And then a friend at church caught wind of my son’s desire for a gerbil (he probably put his wishes on the prayer chain). And she gave us her old gerbil cage with shavings. (Oh, yay)

And then, my husband gave in. He promised my son a gerbil by the end of the summer.

And the wonderful, supportive mother that I am said, “Fine. But I’m having nothing to do with it. I’m not touching it. I’m not cleaning out its cage. I’m not going to think it’s cute. I won’t be the one to drive to the pet store to pick it up.”  (And I almost said, “And if it dies, I’ll throw a party.” But I didn’t want to scar my son forever.)

And so, we got a gerbil.

And it was the ultimate sacrifice. 

And sorry, no pictures of the cute gerbil. I swore an oath not to have any pictures of rodents on my blog. Ever. (Sorry Hilary.  I’m still looking forward to Nightshade City.)

What sacrifices do you remember from books? What do you think is key to making it believable?


17 Responses to Sacrifice to the utmost degree (something I love in books).

  1. Hilary Wagner September 1, 2010 at 11:17 am #

    OMG! You are funny and forgiven! Nancy Gallt (owner of my agency) can’t stand vermin of any kind, which is funny, since she reps Betty Birney, who writes Humphrey The Hamster AND Humphrey is a huge seller! See, rodents are cool! 😉

    xoxo — Hilary

  2. Laura Pauling September 1, 2010 at 11:30 am #

    Thanks Hilary! I even wrote a story from the pov of medieval rat, so I’m okay with them – in stories. Not in my house.

  3. kris September 1, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

    Remember how I said I thought our kids would get along? Forget it. 🙂

    My daughter would totally try that trick–we have allergies too and no pets are fine with me. We go to visit people to get our pet fix, and then we don’t have to worry about the clean up.

    Best sacrifice that comes to mind is from my favorite book–Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery. Gilbert sacrifices the best teaching job so Anne can stay at Green Gables w/ Marilla. He ends up having to commute farther and I think he takes a pay cut too. For love. I loved Gilbert. 🙂 Ok, it sounds kind of lame written out, but I cry every time.

    • Laura September 1, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

      Kris – When I watch Anne I always cry at the beginning of the movie with all the sacrifices that Matthew makes for Anne. Esp. knowing the ending, I cry more at the beginning during the powerful bonding moments. Great example!

  4. Jennifer Shirk September 1, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

    LOL! Your like me. My hubby wanted me to go buy a hamster for my kidlet at Christmas time. Well, I got to the pet store, looked inot its beady eyes and thought, “There is NO WAY I’m picking that thing up.” And I walked out sans hamster. LOL
    So we added a few more hermit crabs. Them I can handle.

  5. Laura Marcella September 1, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    Kris already said my suggestion! That’s the first thing I thought of. After all that and Anne still wasn’t positive how Gilbert felt about her. Silly girl!

    Another sacrifice is in the Little House Books when Laura continues teaching at the awful Brewster school 20 miles from home so she can earn money for her sister Mary to stay at college for the blind. Such internal strength!

    That’s nice of you to let your son have the gerbil. When it comes to rodents, I’m a guinea pig fan. They’re so chubby and cute and cuddly! Not rodent-like at all!

  6. Patti Nielson September 1, 2010 at 2:44 pm #

    I’m not a pet person, so I totally have done the “no” thing a lot to my daughter.

    My mind’s a blank on sacrifices in books. Maybe when Katniss sacrifices her safety and volunteers for the Hunger Games for her sister. This is only because I’m reading Mockingjay.

  7. patti September 1, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    I LOVE this post!

    My fourth novel, Reclaiming Lily, OOZES with sacrifice!

    LOVE that concept as well….

    even as applied (OR NOT) to gerbils!!

    Blessings, dear one,

    • Laura September 1, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

      Jennifer – I srsly don’t think I could walk into a pet store and buy a rodent. That would be too much.

      Laura – Examples are hard to think of off the top of my head. But when they are done well are so powerful. My favorite is in an adult historical fiction by Francine Rivers when the mc, a slave, accepts a whipping for her master from her master’s abusive husband.

      Patti – I think that’s how this post came about. I was thinking of Katniss stepping forward to help Gale and she received a lash to the cheek. Not a great sacrifice but it almost was.

      Thanks Patti L.

  8. Susan R. Mills September 1, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    I soooooooo hate rodents! I once came across a picture of these rat slippers that I almost posted on my blog to go with the whole shoe theme, but I just couldn’t bring myself to force people to look at them while they read my post.

  9. angela September 1, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    Ha, this was mean, but it was a guinea pig. And they live longer.

    But you know what? My son NEEDED a pet in his life. He was struggling emotionally and it made a huge difference with him. I don’t regret it for a second.

    Well, except for when the cage starts to smell. Then I regret it a little. 🙂

    I liked this post Laura because my current book depends on this idea of sacrifice to make it all come together. It’s something a writer either nails or totally screws up. I guess I’ll know which it is very soon. *bites nails*

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  10. angela September 1, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    Oops–that’s supposed to say, ‘This is me’, not mean. *slaps the typo fairy*

  11. Laura Pauling September 1, 2010 at 11:08 pm #

    Susan – I’m glad I’m not the only one. I know I’m not the only one. 🙂

    Angela – and that’s why I did it too. He really really wanted a pet. But I will probably never hold it. Srsly! And good luck with your sacrifice! They can be extremely powerful!

  12. Julie Musil September 2, 2010 at 3:00 am #

    Oh my gosh, that’s funny. I’m the same with with our sons’ leopard geckos. Yuck. But they love them, and we just have to buy crickets every few days. No touching by me. Ever.

    I can’t think of a good sacrifice story off the top of my head, but your blog post does give me some ideas for my wip. Thanks!

  13. Jen September 2, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    I’m cracking up!!!! No Rodents on this blog, sorry Hillary! Hehe, still chuckling!!!

    Wow you are really putting me on the spot and since I’ve just woken up enough to even begin to read blogs, I’ll have to get back to you on this.


  14. Susan September 3, 2010 at 2:26 am #

    We caved too! Except we gave Mason a fish tank. I have killed 5 fish in 2 weeks. 🙂 I love that is some ways we are so different and other ways…..we are twins!
    Love, Your fellow “Sachems in a Box”


  1. The key to believable sacrifice. – Laura Pauling - September 3, 2010

    […] won’t blame you at all if on Wednesday you saw my ultimate sacrifice as trivial. You might have thought, just another female afraid of […]

Leave a Reply