'Journey' to adulthood

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There is an old saying that life is a journey, not a destination. Where we end up is important, but getting there is the true test of character and imagination.

That's certainly the case in Be: The Journey of Rol, a new book by Ric Colegrove, a Warrenton resident and parishioner of Holy Trinity Church in Gainesville. The book, best suited for middle school grades and up, follows Rol, a naive and inquisitive teenager, on a journey that's both literal and figurative. A hazardous trip to his homeland could very well end Rol's life, putting every instinct and lesson he's ever learned to the test.

Rol spends his days training for an unknown task under the tutelage of the wise DaTerrin, a mysterious, Obi-Wan Kenobi-like figure. They discuss philosophy, questions about God, crack jokes and spar with sticks. Rol doesn't fully understand why his parents left him with DaTerrin, but at the beginning of the book, he has already accepted the situation and is eager to learn.

That attitude serves him well after a major twist in the plot that results in Rol's solo journey back to his village, through a treacherous mountain area. In the face of dangers from angry bears, ant-like creatures, giants and hazardous trails, Rol must decide when to take a chance and trust people. Though Rol is independent, he does find help from some unexpected sources when he is willing to take the chance.

Rol solves many of his problems along the way through creativity and quick thinking; he takes a decidedly dim view of magic and superstition. His dealings with con men who profess to be able to read minds or threaten to place a curse ultimately end in humorous or confusing situations rather than solving any problems. Colegrove intentionally approached the book that way.

"I read a lot of books with my kids and sometimes the easy answer is just to pull out a magic wand," Colegrove said. His hope is that younger readers will apply Rol's situation to their own lives: "What would I do in this situation?"

One of the questions readers may find themselves pondering along the way is DaTerrin's enigmatic advice: "Be." How much significance can one word carry? Rol comes to some understanding of this, but readers will inevitably come up with their own ideas of what it means to be a friend and leader. And whatever happens at the final destination, Rol's journey will continue - Colegrove intends to make "Be" a trilogy.

Stachyra Lopez can be reached at mstachyralopez@catholicherald.com.

Buy the book

Be: The Journey of Rol is available for purchase at www.thejourneyofrol.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015

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