My Strong Love for Musicals and Christian Music

I am so thankful for my deep love for Christian music and musicals. Because without them, I do not know where I would be right now. They truly taught me the power of music. Christian music did teach me that music can bring back memories and can make you feel connected to God. A lot of the Christian songs that I love remind me of the different memories I had at Kanuga. Part of the Kanuga songs remind me of Parish weekends and while the rest are more for Winterlight.

The lyrics below are from a Christian song I learned to love at Kanuga. It is called “The Servant Song” and it reminds me of Kanuga each time I listen to it, but it also reminds me of the Bristol Pilgrimage that I went on two years ago. I sing contemporary Christian music every week at school at our student-led worship service.

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Motto of the trip

On the other hand, musicals really did teach me the emotional impact of music especially considering the shows that are still so new and fresh in my life. Every single musical has more than one emotion in it. Some have a few and while some have a lot. The five emotions that tie musicals together are excitement, joy, love, heartbreak and sadness, which are five of the most common emotions found in them. I grew up with comedies and happy musicals. I grew up with musicals like Annie, Sound of Music, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Cats, Grease, Aladdin and Wicked.

Wicked is the musical where I first started to understand the emotional side of musicals. That was back in 2006 when I first saw it on Broadway with my mom. I was only 12 at the time and I do remember “Popular” being my favorite song. This was the only show that I grew up with where I actually remember sad being part of. The main emotions growing up were basically excitement, love, joy, and sad. Heartbreak wasn’t there because I didn’t understand what it meant for a song to be heartbreaking. “I’m Not That Girl” was just a sad song and I strongly disliked “No Good Deed” at the time.

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Even though I learned to love two sad musicals, I found a way to still describe all musicals as joyful and I did that by describing them in the best positive way I can. Those two sad musicals are Les Mis and Rent. I fell in love with Rent by listening to the songs though Pandora and I fell in love with it first, but didn’t realize it was sad until after I had already seen the Les Mis movie. I was able to realize that they both have a positive nature. Rent is really a story about what to do with the life that you have and how do you measure it. It teaches you to live in the moment and measure your life in love and it really is a celebration of life. Les Mis is really a story about hope, love, compassion, forgiveness, sacrifice, humanity and redemption.  Without Les Mis, I may never have actually understood what it means for a musical song to be heartbreaking.

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Other emotions I found in musicals are hope, love, anger, compassion, haunting, uplifting, loneliness, guilt, desperation, devastation, depressing, fear and uncomfortable. I still cannot believe that musicals range from being very happy all the way down to very sad, which is more layers than one might find. Annie would be a very happy show even though it has one sad song in it, which is “Maybe”, but that song isn’t that sad at all. Annie is very happy because it is pretty much all joy from start to finish and barely has any conflict. On the other side, Les Mis would be very sad. Musicals are like a series of ladders overlapping each other with each ladder representing something different.

There is a huge difference between the emotions within a show compared to whether a show is happy or not. Musicals have come such a long way since shows like Annie and Sound of Music which are both very happy and simple and those two do not have that many emotions in it at all. Eventually they built up to a show like Les Mis, which is a lot more powerful and filled with this incredible wide range of emotions starting with uplifting building eventually to depressing. In the past I thought a song could not push past sad, but it sure did in Les Mis. I know deep down that musicals will continue to play games on me and change because I am still young and have yet to discover other new ones.

I don’t Doubt that I will stop loving Christian Music and musicals. I truly learned about the power of music through them. They taught me how music can bring back memories and the emotional impact that music can bring.

Heartbreak and Inspiration of Les Mis

A progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from corruption to life; from bestiality to duty; from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God. The starting point: matter, destination: the soul. The hydra at the beginning, the angel at the end

-Victor Hugo

Yes, Les Mis again

The quote above just shows the tale of Les Mis and how the main character’s journey progresses from beginning to end.

The musical, Les Misérables, is one of the most successful musicals of all time. The tile literally means the miserable and can even mean the downtrodden, the outcasts, and the fugitives. The title literally gives away the fact that Les Mis is indeed a very heartbreaking musical. The musical takes place during early 19th century France starting in 1815 and ending up in 1832.

 It can be quite curious as to why such a heartbreaking musical is so successful. I do remember the first time I saw the movie, the moment I learned Les Mis was a tragedy, I was so confused and sort of lost. That time around, I saw the musical as too depressing. I didn’t know if I actually liked that movie or not when it finished. I didn’t know if I would give the movie a second chance or not.

Despite all the confusion, I still decided to research the musical and learn more about the book. I even started to listen to the songs more and discover more about them. After all of that, I did decide to watch the musical movie a second time. This time around, I truly knew there was something special about the musical. I was curious as to why so much heartbreak can actually make you feel uplifted in the end. 

In Les Mis, it is important not to view the musical as just a heartbreaking musical because it is way more than that. True, most of the scenes are sad and heartbreaking, but those scenes are incredible scenes to watch as a matter of fact. The story is one of misery, heartbreaking, suffering and death, but also a story of love, compassion, hope, sacrifice, forgiveness, humanity and redemption. In a lot of ways, the inspirational side of Les Mis does exist throughout the heartbreaking nature.

The heartbreaking and the inspirational nature of this musical both show up in the prologue. The very first scene, the negative emotions enter the picture and up until the bishop scene, we see Valjean being treated poorly by society. No one is given him a place to stay, a job, or even something to eat all because he was an ex-convict. All of those scenes are heartbreaking and we can feel the injustice that Valjean faces. But enter the bishop and he offers Valjean a place to sleep and food to eat. But Valjean does still steal some silver from the bishop out of desperation and he is caught. He is surprised that the bishop actually lies and tells the police that he gave Valjean the silver has a gift and gives Valjean two candlesticks. Valjean uses the lesson that bishop taught him throughout the rest of this journey. The moment the heartbreaking and the inspirational natures clash together, the two are inseparable.

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Possible Spoilers:

You see inspiration through Valjean helping the poor once he becomes mayor. There is something inspirational about Valjean rescuing a man who has fallen under his cart. There is even inspiration when Valjean learns that a man was falsely accused of being him and Valjean turns himself in. But Valjean truly shows compassion towards Fantine, a former worker at Valjean’s factory, who turns to prostitution after being fired. Valjean promises to Fantine on her deathbed that he will raise Cosette, Fantine’s daughter, as his own. So there is compassion shown during death scenes.

Another death scene where compassion is shown is through Eponine’s death scene. She has just retuned to the barricades (different circumstance in the movie) and gets caught in the crossfire and gets shot and unfortunately her wounds are fatal. She loves Marius, a revolutionary on the barricade, unrequitedly. The moment she climbs over the barricade, Marius has no clue that she is terribly hurt. But after she collapses in his arms, Marius knows what is going on. He is truly devastated, but ultimately shows her compassion by never leaving her side. Even though he thinks it is too soon for her to leave, he still stays brave for her.

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There is something hopeful about the students standing up against the government. They are so passionate about their cause. Up until Eponine’s death, the students feel like there is a chance they will win. But after Eponine died, the students realized that they are way outnumbered and feel hopeless. But they still fight hoping that others will stand up for what they believe in. Valjean arrives shortly after Eponine died and he shows mercy and forgiveness towards Javert after he releases him from the barricades even though he promised the students he will execute Javert.

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If I never found a spiritual side to Les Mis, I feel like I would be kind of tired of the musical by now. I love feeling hurt and heartbroken in this musical because I strongly care about the characters and strongly love the plot and strongly love how the show makes you feel. You can feel hope, compassion, forgiveness, love, joy, excitement, uplifted, sad, heartbreak, guilt, loneliness, anger, hopeless, fear, desperation, devastation, depressed,  and even uncomfortable and there are even more than that. To understand the success of Les Mis, you need to see beyond its heartbreaking nature.

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The reasons why I believe Les Mis is so successful because it has incredible and memorable characters, like the angered, harsh, hateful turned compassionate and saintlike Valjean, the strict and obsessive Javert, the loving and prostitute Fantine, the greedy, abusive and comical Thenardiers, the loving, brave, neglected and lonely Eponine, the revolutionary and romantic Marius, the kind and innocent Cosette, the passionate and hopeful, leader Enjolras, and the unloved and heroic Gavroche. In addition, I love the brilliance of the story, which is the tale of Jean Valjean, an ex-convict and his journey to redemption, which includes the love triangle of Eponine, Marius and Cosette, the student uprising (AKA June Rebellion of 1832), and the story of Fantine.

But ultimately, I think the biggest reason why Les Mis is so successful is due the emotional nature of the songs. They make you feel several emotions at such a deep level all the way to the deepest level of the Holy Spirit. This musical feel so realistic and feels like you can truly care about the characters. Even though it is heartbreaking, it has several topics found in Christianity like love, humanity, sacrifice,  compassion, forgiveness, hope, and redemption. Les Mis is the most powerful musical ever and its complexity changed my view on musicals and taught me the value of tragedy in the first place.

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God Bless Us Everyone

Last night, my first day of Christmas Break began. That same night, I watched the movie, “A Christmas Carol”. It is a movie I grew up with and it is also a well known Charles Dickens classic. It is truly a story about redemption and the true meaning of Scrooge. Scrooge was a grumpy, greedy and old man at the beginning, but at the end he learned a lesson and become a more compassionate and thoughtful man. In the middle of the night, he was visited by three spirits, who are the ghosts of Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmas future.

The first spirit showed him why he became to be the man that he is today. Scrooge did not have a very good past and the idea of money and greed took over him. His father was not a very good man and treated Scrooge unfairly. Scrooge fall in love with Belle, but his desire for money made Belle leave him.

The ghost of Christmas present  showed him the houses of Mr. Cratchit, a poor man who works for him and the house of Fred, his nephew. Mr. Cratchit has a crippled young son, Tiny Tim. Tiny Tim has such strong spirit despite his disability and when Scrooge was visited by Ghost of Christmas Present, he learned to have sympathy for Tiny Tim and his family. It showed him the party of Fred and Scrooge never attends his Nephew’s parties, but he was reminded of the love he had for his sister.

But the Ghost of Christmas future is really haunting. This ghost shows him what will happen if some events are not altered. If he does not fix things, Tiny Tim will die and when Scrooge dies, no one will have respect for his death.

Through all of these spirits, Scrooge learned a valuable lesson. He learned to truly celebrate Christmas and he did once call it a humbug. He decided to buy Mr. Cratchit the biggest turkey ever and decided to raise that man’s salary to help his family. He became like a second father to Tiny Tim and Tim did walk again. He decided to be compassionate towards the poor and started donating to help the poor.

While watching Christmas Carol, I couldn’t help but notice similarities between Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens. They both wrote classic in the 1800s, which is the time period of Romanticism, a time period where emotions truly mattered. Their stories all have some focus on the poor and both have the theme of redemption. Considering the fact that they wrote in the 1800s, both wrote stories after Revolutionary time period, which means they were living in the aftermath of these Revolutions.

Watching Christmas Carol was a good start to break. That was like a nice transition because today I am going to start to read Dickens’ “Great Expectations”.

To Love Another Person is to See the Face of God

To Love Another Person is to See the Face of God

-Finale, Les Misérables

The above quote comes from the musical sensation, Les Mis. This line is from the finale and truly represents Les Mis as a whole. Les Mis explores many different kinds of love. Love is one of the biggest themes in the show and that theme is one of the biggest reasons why the show is so inspirational despite all the heartbreak and misery.

Major Spoiler Alert:

One of the first kinds of love the musical shows is love for a child. This happens through the tragic Fantine. She is a mother who lives a very tragic and heartbreaking life. You first see her in 1823 as a worker in Jean Valjean’s factory. She has an illegitimate child, Cosette, and her child is currently living with the Thenardiers. Cosette’s father abandoned Fantine and her little girl, which led Fantine with no choice but to leave Cosette with someone else in order to get a job because having an illegitimate child at that time is not okay.

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But what Fantine doesn’t know is that the Thenardiers are terribly abusing the little girl. She receives a letter from saying that Cosette is deathly ill and needs medicine as soon as possible. But its a trap and Fantine doesn’t know that the letter is a big lie. One of the factory girls finds this letter and steals it from Fantine and reads it out loud. This causes a big fight in the factory and the foreman arrives to try to break it up. Valjean asked the foreman to solve this fight. Unfortunately for Fantine, she gets fired and this leads her into a downward spiral.  Her dreams are completely shattered and still continues to care for Cosette.

Fantine ends up selling her locket and hair and later become a prostitute as a desperate means to pay for Cosette. Soon after she becomes a prostitute, she gets into a fight with an abusive customer and she attacks the man to defend herself. But Javert demands that she is sent to jail for six months, but Valjean intervenes and demands that she is to be taken to the hospital instead. While Fantine was dying in the hospital, Valjean promises to raise Cosette as his own and this gives Fantine some peace and comfort because she knows that Cosette will be in good hands.

Another form of love of a child is through Valjean and Cosette. Valjean has to care for Cosette as he promised Fantine. Valjean learns that Cosette was terribly abused and that she is very broken. Cosette is unloved and neglected at the time. At the time Valjean picked up Cosette, she was only eight. Cosette was the first person he ever loved after being released from prison.They are both broken on the inside due to the trauma both have already faced. Cosette is so important to Valjean and that explains why it is so hard to let her go especially as she gets older.

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The Thenardiers are an expectation to love for child. It appears as if the Thenardiers loved their daughter, Eponine, when Valjean came for Cosette. Eponine is the same age as Cosette.But as the two girls got older, their situations reversed. Cosette grew up with Valjean and her life improved and she became the loved child. But Eponine’s life got even worse and her family fell into extreme poverty and she became the unloved and neglected child. This perfectly shows how Eponine’s parents are unloving and that they raised Eponine to be a criminal.

Coincidentally both girls (Eponine and Cosette)  fell in love with the same man, Marius. This created an amazing texture to the show. Marius and Cosette love each other, but Marius only has eyes for Cosette. He doesn’t even realize that Eponine loves him and that is mainly due to fact that Eponine has not even told him that she loves him. Even though Eponine loves him unrequitedly, she still does anything for Marius even if that means he wouldn’t do the same for her. So the love triangle is another aspect of love found in this musical. Some people find this love triangle silly, but is not due to Les Mis exploring different sides of love.

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Another form of love in Les Mis is the love for a country. This is shown through Enjolras, Marius, Gavroche, and the students. They are part of an underground movement and they start the uprising due to the unstable government and General Lamarque who is dying of cholera is the only one left in the government who feels anything for the poor. The most passionate of all the rebels is Enjolras. These students have a love for each other and love for France. Once Lamarque dies, they know it is time to start the rebellion the next day.

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Last but not least, there is a love for God found throughout the musical. You see this initially through the mercy of the bishop. When Valjean was released from prison, everyone would not give him a place to sleep, a job, or even something to eat just because he was an ex-convict. The bishop decided to let him stay for the night and provided a meal. But even after Valjean steals the silver, the bishop still forgave Valjean. Valjean lived by the bishop’s example during the rest of the show. He gives to the poor and helped Cosette, Fantine, and Marius. He confessed to court that he is Valjean when a man was innocently accused of being Valjean. He even helped save the seriously wounded Marius from the barricades. All of this lead to Valjean’s strong redemption at the end of the musical.

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What other kinds of love do you find in Les Mis?

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Realization of Les Mis

It is hard to believe how much impact Les Mis has had on my life. It all started in December of 2012. My parents took me to see the movie. The only thing I knew about the musical was “I Dreamed A Dream”, but I had no idea what the title meant. The moment the first character died, I was shocked. I realized at that moment that Les Mis was in fact a tragedy. I thought a tragedy could never exist in the world of musicals. I was so in shock at that moment and that emotion showed up throughout the rest of the show. At the end, I did not know if I enjoyed it or not. The next thing you know, I was digging deeper into the show and was interested in knowing more. I want to say I did enjoy it the first time despite all of the shock I faced.

After the second time I saw the movie, I was curious about why I always feel uplifted and inspired by the end of the show. I was able to realize that the musical is way more then tragedy. I was able to analyze the musical at such a deeper level. After the second viewing, I knew there was something special about Les Mis. I knew it had something to do with the incredible emotional impact due to brilliant songs. It has these themes of love, forgiveness, compassion, hope, humanity, sacrifice, and redemption, which is why the storyline is so inspirational. Before Les Mis, I thought tragedies were just plain sad and I just pushed the genre back due to that kind of thinking. Les Mis did teach me tragedies are way more then sad.

Les Mis changed musical theatre forever. It changed everything that I already knew. All of the emotions were transformed. It was like they were being reborn. There was already joy, excitement, love, and sad. All of those emotions became tested when Les Mis became an important part of my life. I never thought those emotions had more capability in them then I thought they did. Look at what sad did. That one truly was transformed and became deeper then ever before. It became even more powerful and even more layers began to exist. Whenever I listen or watch Les Mis either by movie, concert, stage show, or soundtrack, I am always reduced to tears. I am positively influenced by all of the emotions in Les Mis including the negative emotions.

Les Mis has characters that are so well crafted. Some of the characters have a wonderful arc. Jean Valjean, the protagonist, was able to became a compassionate, honest, and saintlike man despite being an ex-convict. He kept on always doing the right thing even if it could possibly risk his life. Javert, the antagonist, may seem like a villain, but in reality he really isn’t. He just sees the world in black and white and is too obsessive about capturing Valjean after breaking parole.

If you want to look at villains, then look at those abusive, greedy, and cruel Thenardiers. They are the characters you love to hate, but provide the much needed comic relief. You end up falling in love with Gavroche and Eponine, their children.

Eponine is such a loving, brave, and loyal teenager who has to live through poverty, abuse, and unrequited love. She will do anything for Marius even though he will never love her back. She risks her life several times for him. Fantine is also put through unfortunate circumstances, but she manages to thrive through showing unconditional love toward her daughter, Cosette.

As a child, Cosette is so strong due to all of the abuse she faced and once an adult, she is extremely protective and sheltered due to her adopted father, Valjean, being an ex-convict. She may seem somewhat boring, but she is quite curious. Marius is one of the student revolutionaries who is conflicted between his love for Cosette and his passion for what he believes in. He is capable of showing compassion and that is seen through how he treats Eponine. Enjolras and the students are so passionate about their uprising and stay passionate towards the end even when they feel hopeless knowing that they will lose. They want to make a change due to the weak government and they are so close towards each other.

I can’t even pick my favorite character or song from the musical. However, my favorite solo from the musical is “On My Own”. Thinking of Eponine, I love “A Little Fall of Rain”, which is one of the most touching songs and one of the best scenes at the barricades.The songs are so powerful, passionate, and inspiring. Some of the songs have epic quality such as “Look Down”. They truly show honest truth, insight, and vulnerability towards the characters. This show is filled with several emotions and it moves me each and every time.

Les Mis teaches many things. It teaches that you can raise above your background, that there is hope in the midst of darkness and inspires you to become a better person. Learning to play Les Mis on the piano gave me a bigger appreciation of the songs. Due to my love for the show, I was able to play with emotion and passion. Les Mis deserves to be the sensation that it is. It is quite unique and special. It is so inspiring even though it is heartbreaking. Les Mis truly taught me how to embrace the negative emotions in musicals. I was able to learn about musical emotions through the perspective of tragedy.

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My Passion for Les Mis

“To love another person is to see the face of God”

“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will raise”

-Les Mis: Finale

As many may know by now, when it comes to musicals, I am the most passionate about Les Mis. I still don’t know why that is, but do know why I love it is much. Les Mis is quite an unique musical that is so powerful, epic, and inspirational. You see people thriving in some of the most unfortunate situations ever and there is an uprising that students are passionate about and will fight to the end no matter what. That is what makes it such a passionate musical. Les Mis does not make me feel miserable ever even when I am feeling heartbroken or lonely or sad. You are feeling the character’s emotions at those moments and you also have joy experiencing those emotions due to a love you have for the show. Sometimes in heartbreaking situations, you do find happiness in one of the characters.

There is just something about Les Mis that is so captivating,  insightful, honest, soulful, and transforming. It is such a complex musical filled with so many wonderful layers and they make you truly get to know the different characters. This show is covered with several layers of emotions at such a deep level. The songs are brilliant and wonderfully reveal the depths of these characters. The plot, characters, and songs brilliantly work together.

This show represents the survival of the human spirit and despite the heartbreak, it is filled with hope, love, compassion, forgiveness, sacrifice, humanity and redemption. That shows the storyline is more then tragedy. I see it more inspirational then heartbreaking in my opinion. Yes, I know it is heartbreaking, but in fact understanding the inspirational world of the musical actually makes the heartbreaking nature stronger. Compassion is shown at heartbreaking moments such as death. Forgiveness and compassion is given to Valjean through the bishop who helps lead Valjean on a better path.

It seems like I am way too obsessed about this musical. But in reality, this musical truly has changed what I know about musical theatre. It made me look at the emotions differently. I can’t even describe how much the emotional nature of musicals changed after falling in love with this musical. If I have to pick a favorite character or song from this musical, I wouldn’t be able to.

What is it about the characters that makes so memorable? The reason why I love them so much is because they are so complex and strong. You see characters like Jean Valjean and Eponine raising above from their backgrounds. You get to see characters like Enjolras and the students who stand up for what they believe and stay passionate no matter what. There even is Fantine who lives for the sake of her daughter no matter what obstacles she faces. There is misery in all of the characters. The miserable are the wretched, the outcasts, and the fugitives. Some of them are tragic due to society and not their flaws. Fantine falls victim to how society treats women, Valjean falls victim to injustice due to his status of an ex-convict, and Eponine falls victim to how her parents raised her. But that doesn’t stop the characters from thriving or trying to become a better person.

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Review of “The Brick”

Why is Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables, known as “the brick”?

Just last summer, I decided to read the unabridged version of the “brick”. The reason why Victor Hugo’s book is called “the brick” is because of the length. The unabridged book is over one thousand pages and seems intimidating at first. The title also seems to lead people away from the book because it means “the miserable”, which indicates that the book is going to be a heartbreaking and tragic book.

But there is way more to the story then heartbreak and tragedy.  It takes a lot of work to see beyond that and once you realize what is at the core of the book, it makes the storyline so much better.

I decided to set a goal and told myself I will finish it by the end of the summer. I was inspired to read the unabridged book  because of the musical. I was interested in learning more about the book that Les Mis was based off of. Coincidentally, just like the musical, the book was also panned by critics. Victor Hugo once said “I don’t know if everyone will read this book, but it is meant for everyone”. Victor Hugo wrote a book that is about the survival of the human spirit. Les Misérables is one of the greatest stories ever told.

This is a  basic summary: a bit lengthy, possible minor spoilers

Its protagonist, Jean Valjean, is one of the most memorable and best characters in the world of literature. Jean Valjean had a terrible background by serving nineteen years in prison just for stealing a loaf of bread in order to provide for his sister and her children. This experience turned him from a good man to a man filled with anger and hatred. After being released, he had to be on parole forever. No one would give him a place to sleep or a place to eat just because he was an ex-convcit. That made him believe society will always hate him. But he was offered mercy, grace, compassion, and forgiveness by the humble bishop. The bishop gave him a meal and a place to sleep.

But Valjean was desperate and stole the bishop’s silver and was caught. But the bishop lied and said that the silver was a gift and gave him the silver candlesticks, which will serve as a reminder of the bishop’s kindness. The bishop was able to forgive him and taught Valjean the ways of the Lord. From that point on, Valjean decided to live by the example of the bishop. On top of that, there are is the love triangle between Marius, Cosette, and Eponine, the tragic tale of Fantine, and the uprising  that the students are planning.

This story is about Valjean’s journey from a harsh man filled with anger and hate to a man filled with compassion and goodness to saintlike. He dedicated his life to the Lord and made a promise to the prostitute, Fantine, that he would raise her daughter, Cosette, as his own. Cosette was the first person he ever loved. Cosette and Valjean were both broken and they helped heal each other.

Overall, this book gave me a better glimpse into the time period that these characters lived. Victor Hugo created a book that realistically described early 19th Century, France. He  actually created some of his characters based of experience. The love story between Marius and Cosette  was based off the love between his first lover and him. He saved a prostitute from being arrested after a customer harassed her, which made him wonder if she had a child and Fantine was created. Hugo actually witnessed the June Rebellion of 1832.

It is hard to give a basic summary of the book. That shows that the storyline line is extremely  complex, but very real. It may be heartbreaking, but the book gives you a wonderful glimpse of spirituality. It is ultimately a story of sacrifice, hope, compassion, love, forgiveness, and redemption. That is why Hugo’s story manages to uplift you and why it is so inspirational.

One of the most annoying and frustrating things about the book is that sometimes Victor Hugo interrupts the plot with boring history lessons. He would go into fifty or so pages about the battle of waterloo or twenty pages about the sewers of the Paris, etc. But I did not skip over them because my goal was to finish the entire book. But I understand why he wrote that way. You realize it helps you understand the storyline.

Victor Hugo is so clever with his book. He somehow was able to connect all these different characters though several coincidences. The characters all happened to be at the right place at the right time. For example, the Thenardiers and Marius ended up being neighbors at the same place Valjean and Cosette once lived. Cosette also seems to link the characters together. She is Fantine’s daughter, was adopted by Valjean,  part of a love triangle with Eponine and Marius. Because she was Valjean’s adopted daughter, she was always on the run to stay away from Javert and because Marius was a reluctant revolutionary, she connected to the students.

I was aware when I read the unabridged book that characterizations were going to be different, but that wasn’t going to stop me from loving the characters from the stage show. The Thenardier family was one of the most obvious difference in the book. Monsieur and Madame Thenardier were more wicked in the book and did not serve as comic relief.

You get a better glimpse into the poverty that the family faced. You become aware that Gavroche was indeed a Thenardier, which is not referenced in the musical. Eponine, one of my favorite characters in the musical, was slightly different as well. She was less loving in the book and she lives a more darker life in the book. She wasn’t that pretty in the book either. At times, she does become jealous between the love between Marius and Cosette, which makes her act in selfish and self-destructive  ways at times.

This book gets you a better glimpse into the bishop. The bishop plays a small, but crucial role in the story. Without him, you technically don’t really have a story. Without him, Valjean’s journey would not have been wonderful. The bishop helped Valjean raise above from where he came from.

Other characters include the obsessed Javert, the wicked and abusive Thenardiers’, the streetwise and tough Eponine, the self-sacrificing and tragic Fantine, the revolutionary and lover Marius, and the innocent and angelic Cosette and passionate and revolutionary Enjolras.

I may have read the unabridged book last summer, but had a lasting impact on the powerful, epic, and inspirational musical. This book helped make me appreciate the musical even more and it made the spirituality become more alive in the musical. The musical faithfully reflects the book despite all of the characterization differences, but those differences are for the show’s benefit. The book is so powerful and covered in several emotions. It spans over seventeen years.

You become more impressed at how the over one thousand page book was condensed into a three hour musical. I used my knowledge of the musical to understand the book. I was able to mark up major characters and write in song names. In a lot of ways, I find this story to be more inspirational then heartbreaking. These characters feel so real to you and you truly can care about every one of these characters even if you don’t like them.

Hint: if anyone wants to read the unabridged version of this book, make sure to have a dictionary at hand and mark up things that will help you understand the story. If you are a fan of the musical, I suggest you use your knowledge of the musical to read this book. I know it helped me.