Until They Bring the Streetcars Back

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Love is a Silver Lining

What is love? Often enough, as a hormone-struck teenager, I am lectured on what love is not. According to my mother, father, grandmother, aunts, uncles, and every adult figure that has ever made a guest-star appearance in the long-winded romance novel that is my life, love is NOT the warm cuddly feeling I get when I see a cute boy at school. Love is NOT holding hands on the playground; is not caring an abnormal amount for a favorite pair of shoes. I feel as though a vast amount of time is spent describing the negative space of a person’s heart, and not long enough spent defining its shape. Although Pastor Ostrum follows suit with his anti-definition of what love is not, he definitely strikes a chord in my heart when he says that “love is not something we wait to have happen to us, but something we do.” Many might disagree, might argue that love is a two-way street; that in order to give we must first receive. However, in the novel “Until They Bring the Streetcars Back,” by Stanley Gordon West, Cal Gant demonstrates this principle of giving time and time again.

If love is not something you say, but something you do, then how many acts of loving go unnoticed throughout a day? It seems that the simplest actions, such as waving hello to an elderly couple on the street, can be the most sentimental. This theme plays out in Until They Bring the Streetcars Back, through Cal’s kindness and blind compassion. Despite his own hesitation and fear, and despite his family’s well-worn advice to “leave well-enough alone,” Cal fights tooth and nail to better Gretchen’s life. Whether he is giving her a baby-doll to hold on to, or a Nut Goodie to liven her spirits, or merely listening to her cry, Cal makes his best effort to be a friend to the friendless. He finds himself mixed into a blender of emotional turmoil as he enters a world of abuse and terror unimaginable to a seventeen year old boy. Still, he is relentless, stealing liquor—endangering his...
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