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Archive for Monday, June 4, 2012

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River City Jules: Life mirrors ‘Hunger Games’

June 4, 2012

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At the urging of my husband, I recently caught up with America and read Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” series.

Like a citizen to the reaping, I approached the first book with trepidation. My husband and kids had zipped through them without any problem, but everyone else I knew used words like “addictive” and “obsessive” and “I didn’t even notice when the kids shaved our dog” to describe the experience.

Chapter One ended with Katniss and me on our way to the Capitol, she with the baker’s kind son and I with just enough clean laundry to get through the next three days. While Katniss dined on lavish meals prepared with the finest ingredients the Capitol could manifest, my family was lucky to see any food on the table at all.

Katniss and I entered the arena late during my second night. We quickly formed an alliance where she climbed trees and fought to stay alive, and I climbed into bed and fought to keep from waking my husband. When sleep finally overtook me, I dreamed about hiding from the Careers in a cave with Peeta (played by George Clooney) and wishing I had paid more attention during archery at Cub Scout camp last summer.

Like Katniss, I tried to move on with life after the “Hunger Games” ended. But Suzanne Collins had other plans …

I brought “Catching Fire” everywhere with me. While Gale suffered watching the Quarter Quell, so did my personal hygiene suffer as I, too, became yet another helpless victim in the Capitol’s plans.

Katniss and I quickly resumed our familiar positions, her dodging death with every tick of the clock and me questioning my limited set of life-preserving skills. Could I outrun fire? Would I recognize a force field?

In her mind, Katniss found herself torn between two would-be lovers. In my dreams, Clooney and I formed an alliance with Don Cheadle and Brad Pitt to break our way out of the Belagio vault, a welcome change from being chased by Andy Garcia monkey muttations.

“Catching Fire” ended with me tearing my son’s room apart looking for the next book, only to find my sister had borrowed it. I spent the next few days readying my home for one final battle before ripping the book out of Kari’s hands like the desperate tribute I had become.

Everything fell apart before coming back together for both me an Katniss. While my new favorite heroine realized her whole world had been destroyed, I realized I had never made it to the county treasurer’s office to renew my license plate before the month ended. (Real.) Both of us now wanted by our governments, we had no choice but to plot in hiding and then bravely march to our respective government agencies and demand justice. (Not real; I just paid a late fee.)

In the end, we both got our lives back. Katniss with the one I’d hoped she would pick, and I with the one who had insisted I read the series in the first place.

— Julie Dunlap can be reached at go@ljworld.com.

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