Excerpts from the book of Gabrielle Zevin
“Darling, it may come out later, and it could hurt your friend’s feelings, if he thinks he is a charity to you, and not a genuine friendship.”
“Can’t something be both?” Sadie said.
“Friendship is friendship, and charity is charity,” Freda said. “You know very well that I was in Germany as a child, and you have heard the stories, so I won’t tell them to you again. But I can tell you that the people who give you charity are never your friends. It is not possible to receive charity from a friend.”
“I hadn’t thought of it that way,” Sadie said.
Freda stroked Sadie’s hand. “Mine Sadie. This life is filled with inescapable moral compromises. We should do what we can to avoid the easy ones.”
The words of Anders Larsson came back to him: “To be good at something is not quite the same as loving it.”
Sadie knew that the key to making a video game on limited resources was to make the limitations part of the style.
I was raised by Korean immigrant grandparents in Koreatown, Los Angeles. And as any mixed-race person will tell you—to be half of two things is to be whole of nothing.
“She never would have won if the Russians hadn’t boycotted,” the man insisted. “It’s not a victory if the best players aren’t there.”
Sam asked his mother whether she thought the man with the loud voice was right.
“Even if what he says is true, I think it’s still a victory,” she said. “Because she won on this day, with this particular set of people. We can never know what else might have happened had other competitors been there. The Russian girls could have won, or they could have gotten jet-lagged and choked.” Anna shrugged. “And this is the truth of any game—it can only exist at the moment that it is being played. It’s the same with being an actor. In the end, all we can ever know is the game that was played, in the only world that we know.”
Sam’s grandfather had two core beliefs: (1) all things were knowable by anyone, and (2) anything was fixable if you took the time to figure out what was broken. Sam believed these things as well.
Sam was leaning on his good foot, in the increasingly lopsided way he had to stand, and Sadie felt a swelling of love and of worry for him—what was the difference in the end? It was never worth worrying about someone you didn’t love. And it wasn’t love if you didn’t worry.
“You’re from Beverly Hills, right?” Zoe asked.
“The flats,” Sadie said.
“The flat part of a place named for its hills?” Zoe said.
“You can’t have hills without flats,” Sadie replied.
Maybe they didn’t like her because she was no good, not talented, too short. Maybe they didn’t like her because they were racist or sexist or harboring some other secret prejudice. In the end, they didn’t like her because they didn’t like her. She wasn’t going to reason them out of their dislike. She wasn’t going to teach anyone anything.