Closing doors is significant literature
Joelle renstrom’s book closing the door is a series of conjoined essays, but it is much more than that. it is a memoir, a travel journal, a glimpse at the growing philosophy of a young woman. most of all, perhaps, it is an archetypal quest. as renstrom seeks answers about her father’s untimely death and her life without him, she looks in europe, in the classroom, and in literature. the comforting part about her forays into questioning various works of science fiction is that renstrom informs the reader about each novel, so no one can become lost, even with unfamiliar books. renstrom not only has a way with words, she also has a way with thoughts which develop and solidify throughout the book. her heart and mind “turn cartwheels” as she grasps essential elements of life and death. almost anyone who has experienced the death of a most loved person can understand the dizzying spin she takes us on as she, and we, come to understand a little more about life and mortality. her clear honesty vibrates throughout her prose, such as when she discusses having to rebuild her life. “there’s a lesson in the bulldozer. it doesn’t look at the mess [of 9/11] and think this will never be fixed. . . .it keeps going. there’s nothing wrong with rebuilding forever. it’s an apt metaphor for life. actually, it’s not a metaphor at all” (79). other great metaphors weave their way among the essays to help us understand renstrom’s questioning, newfound understanding, and questioning once more. one important message becomes clear: “one can choose to want to be hopeful despite the knowledge that one’s hope probably won’t be realized. this is free will. this is . . . bravery.” renstrom may be “closing the book,” but her thoughts and images will keep opening doors for readers’ awareness of literature and their own hearts.