By JESSICA SLATER
Upon Lopez’s arrival he was greeted by a small group of excited and nervous students. These lucky students were selected to meet with Lopez for a little Q & A, and book signing, followed by a catered dinner. During this time Lopez took advantage of the opportunity to espouse his admiration and love for Nathaniel Ayers.
“I really don’t know what to call it other than love, I really love the man”, said Lopez “I consider him a teacher and a profit and I could never walk away”.
It is a matter of debate as to whether or not Lopez initially pursued his ongoing relationship with Ayers for purely self-serving reasons. After all, Lopez is a successful journalist because of his writing skills and because he has a talent for finding stories that will sell to the public. But whatever his initial intentions were, Lopez successfully brought a formerly taboo issue to the forefront of hearts and minds all over the world.
“The Nathaniels’ of the world live in the shadows”, said Lopez. “We don’t want to see them.” Following Lopez’s public address, the floor was open to anyone who wanted to ask questions. The people that came forward revealed a cross section of those affected by the book, ranging from mental health professionals, students of many different majors, to the teary and heartbroken family members of individuals dealing with debilitating mental illness.
When questioned about the glaring differences between the book and the movie Lopez responded, “A lot of people who read the book and then saw the movie had a lot of issues with the changes, but I have received e-mails from people all over the world who have only seen the movie, and the message has gotten across”.
The message may have gotten across to people all over the world, but did it get across to the students of CCC? Fifty students took part in a survey about this year’s One Book One College event. The results of which showed that approximately half of the students polled were familiar with the story in some way. They had either read the book, saw the movie, or participated in class discussions about the issues brought up in “The Soloist”. Unfortunately only a small number of the students polled attended either the panel discussion or Lopez’s presentation in the theater of the Frank Guaracini Jr. Arts Center.
Although many of the students familiar with “The Soloist” did not or were not able to attend these events, their sentiments about the story were almost all alike. This quote from an anonymous student sums it up, “The story really changed the way I felt about mentally ill people and showed me some ways I can help”.