Book Review: Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel

Stiltsville
by
Susanna Daniel

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I enjoyed Daniel’s Sea Creatures so much, I went back to read her debut novel which begins in the same community of stilt houses in the sand flats off Miami’s coast. This is also a story about marriage, family and relationships. It was interesting to read Stiltsville after Sea Creatures because I can see the where her unique writing style and character development begins.

When Frances Ellerby and Dennis DuVal meet at the DuVal family’s stilt house in 1969, they are twenty-somethings playing at being adults. Sparks fly and Daniel chronicles their relationship and marriage for thirty years. It’s not a perfect union, however, and they face many of the typical the pitfalls of married life.

I liked a lot of things about Stiltsville because I like reading about the ocean and boats. The author spent much of her childhood at her family’s stilt house and it’s obvious she knows what she’s talking about.  In addition, the stilt house community has a lot of draw because it is so different. Daniel does a great job describing the stilt houses and the dangers that exist, things people on land wouldn’t even think about. I think her other strength is in portraying the tensions and conflicts these characters face as they start their adult lives. I especially liked reading about Frances and Dennis’s early years because there’s a certain excitement in the time before things happen. That shows.

There’s a definite slow-down as time passes, however, and there are a few undeveloped story lines that would have been fun to know about. Frances’s friendship with Marse begins with a lot of tension and I think the early Marse is a great complex character. As the years go on, however, her personality mellows and becomes a little stereo-typed.  I also would have liked to have learned more about their daughter Margo, who struggles in her teens and during college, and about her marriage to Stuart, who has the potential to be one of the more interesting characters. 

Daniel also introduces several historical events into the plot which I think must be very hard to do.  There’s a shift in her writing style as this happens and I prefer when Frances returns to her thoughts about her own life. These events help bring authenticity to the Miami time and setting, however, and help to make the story whole. But the book is otherwise well-constructed and if you like to have the details of your story tied up in the end, you will enjoy this.

If you read both Stiltsville and Sea Creatures, you will be interested to see how Daniel experiments with themes and the ideas of marriage and family in Stiltsville. The mixed attractions of danger and the beauty of the stilt house settings are apparent in both. She also introduces the Stiltsville hermit in her first book – I enjoyed that!  And of course, the forces of nature play in both books.

This is an easy entertaining read with a relaxed and contented ending.  I’m looking forward to what comes next!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Joan Walsh Anglund, artist, poet and children’s book creator

Last week, I read that Joan Walsh Anglund passed away on March 9 at age 95. One of my favorite books as a young girl was A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You. When I was in Kindergarten, I bragged that I could read it, and soon found myself at the front of the class at story time. I didn’t really know how to read it or anything else, but I knew most of the book by heart. I stumbled through a few pages, but the pictures carried us through and no one seemed to care. I like to think it was because the story and pictures are so nice.

A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You was published in 1958 and was selected as one of the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books that year.

You can read my review here and Anglund’s obituary in Publishers Weekly here.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book Review: The Year They Fell by David Kreizman

The Year They Fell
by
David Kreizman

I was in the mood for a Young Adult book so I picked up The Year They Fell by David Kreizman at the library. It’s a teenage drama about five former friends whose lives suddenly change the day their parents head off to an island vacation. The plane crashes and there are no survivors.

Josie, Jack, Archie, Harrison and Dayana were great friends in preschool, but that was a long time ago. Now about to start senior year of high school, their lives are vastly different. Twins Josie and Jack hang with the fast crowd, but Archie, Harrison and Dayana are awkward outsiders to that world.

Josie and Jack may seem perfect, but they have their demons. Josie, queen of the social scene, has a terrible secret. Jack is a hulking football star with a violent temper. The others also struggle. Archie clings to his sketch pad and wonders how he fits into his adoptive white family. Harrison’s dad abandoned him and his mom and he suffers from major anxiety. Dayana’s parents aren’t getting along and she pops pills to cope. In addition, past dynamics from years ago interfere with their current relationships.

As the former friends awkwardly circle each other, Harrison launches an investigation. Soon the group must confront painful details about their parents’ lives. Harrison determines the crash might not be an accident and tries to convince the others with his extensive research.

I enjoyed this fast read, set in River Bank, New Jersey, a town I hadn’t heard of, but was surprised to find in a familiar part of the Jersey shore. In addition to the tragedy, the author packs a lot of major developments and problems into these high schoolers! Probably not realistic and that is my one gripe with the story. The high school setting and dialogue seemed true to life, but I hope no sample set of high schoolers has this many things to deal with.

In addition to suffering tragic loss, Kreizman introduces important themes into his story, including love, friendship, sexual identity, family relationships, fitting in, anxiety, sexual abuse, and drug addiction. While these are all important, I think the story would have been better if the author focused on fewer issues. As a result, the story reads more like a soap opera. Pretty interesting because Kreizman used to write for television soap operas and even spent time as a writer for the WWE. I laughed when I read that because those plots are really over the top!

Despite these comments, I’d still recommend The Year They Fell as an engaging story with modern themes and plenty of teen angst. I also love the cover and think the title is great because it makes potential readers wonder what the story will be.

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Book Review: Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Dear Edward
by
Ann Napolitano

Rating:

Eddie Adler is twelve years old when his family boards a plane to move across the country. He’s grown up in Manhattan where his father has homeschooled Eddie and his fifteen-year-old brother, Jordan. Now the Adlers are headed to Los Angeles where his mom is set to start a new job as a screen writer. There are 192 passengers on the Airbus and when it crashes in the flatlands of northern Colorado. Eddie is the only survivor.

Badly injured and stunned by his new circumstances, Eddie moves in with his aunt and uncle in New Jersey. It’s going to take a long time for Eddie, now Edward, to adjust. He makes friends with Shay, a girl across the street and together they try to make sense of their place in the world. As they grow, their friendship becomes an anchor they both need. At the house, Edward’s aunt and uncle are trying hard, but they have their own personal struggles and marital issues, something Edward becomes more tuned into.

In addition, the Internet is exploding with stories about Edward and the crash and his aunt and uncle do their best to protect him. But is that the right thing to do? What’s the best way to heal and move on? A chance discovery points to a solution but it means confronting the events and memories of his family and the other passengers.

People say Edward is lucky to have survived. He wonders how that could be true.

The story alternates between the day of the crash and Edward’s new life with his aunt and uncle and leads up to what happened that made the plane crash. In the pre-crash chapters, readers learn about the sometimes-tense dynamics in Adler family as well as the backstories about other passengers on the plane. These include a business magnate with several ex-wives and children who hate him, an injured soldier who is trying to come to terms with a recent encounter, a young woman hoping to make a new life, a free-spirited woman who believes in reincarnation, and a cut-throat young executive with a drug problem.

One of Edward’s biggest challenges is to shake survivor’s guilt, especially the feeling that his brother should have survived instead. To Edward, Jordan was on the brink of thinking for himself and doing something great. Pain washes over Edward when he reaches his own fifteenth birthday, and later passes his brother’s age. He understands it’s because he both misses his brother and what his brother has lost.

Although Edward’s experiences are tragic, they lead to a touching coming-of-age story in which Edward strikes a balance between past and present. I enjoyed Dear Edward very much. It’s very readable and I felt like I understood how Edward was feeling throughout it all. I recommend it to readers who enjoy stories about love and overcoming grief.

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Book Review: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World
by
Elif Shafak

Rating:

Tequila Leila, a prostitute from Istanbul, has been murdered and her body left in a dumpster. Though prostitution is legal in the city, she’s part of a class that is considered nothing. Her family has disowned her, but Leila has five friends who love her. And in the minutes just after death, her mind is working and remembering dear friends. During these 10 minutes and 38 seconds, in which a recent study supports the idea that, after death, the brain is still active for a period of time, Leila reflects upon a life of many difficulties, but one that has also brought her love and friendship.

Leila’s mind travels to the city of Van, where she was born in 1947, to the second wife of a tailor. Shafak describes her childhood and events that drive her to Istanbul to lead a life that has shamed her family. Friends are few, but the ones she makes, become her new family. They represent varied groups of misfits and lost souls and their stories are included in Leila’s reflections. Readers learn about specific times in her life through the 60s and 70s, leading up to her death in 1990.

Leila also recalls many historical events and political movements, some violent, in Turkey and Istanbul, a city that connects Europe and Asia, and one in which there are many opinions about religion, politics and government. Readers get a larger view of Istanbul during these times as world events occur.

When her body is discovered and sent to the city morgue, Leila’s friends must find a way to give her a proper burial, for she is otherwise destined to be sent to the Cemetery of the Companionless. It is in these final hours that the reader learns how far Leila’s friends will go to honor her.

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World was longlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize. The book is divided into three parts, The Mind, The Body and The Soul, although most of it is dedicated to The Mind. This is the strongest part of the story. The rest of the book takes on a more comedic tone and, in my opinion, doesn’t match the thoughtful and moving sections of the first part. I think it detracts from what is an otherwise excellent story. Still, I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it to readers who like something different. I learned a lot about Turkey and Istanbul as it relates to Leila’s story and real events.

Want to read some other reviews? Here’s what other bloggers are saying about 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World:

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Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

 

Friday Fiction – A Man and His Phone

Welcome to A Man and His Phone – a series of relationship mishaps!

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Chris smiled when he saw the text message. Thank goodness for technology! The thought surprised him. Hours earlier, he had been on his couch, completely content to watch the Sixers, drink his beer and ignore the phone across the room. And now, after a comedy show of meet-ups, first with the very interesting, yet-to-be-introduced Adrienne, and then with both Jane and Adrienne in his apartment stairwell, he’s found himself at a dance club, faking a call and pretend-talking, just to get his long-term girlfriend off his lap.

He looked over at Adrienne. The deafening music and heavy beat left no chance for conversation, but it didn’t matter. What a happy set of circumstances, he realized, all without much of his own doing. Back at his apartment building, after the fluster of hearing Jane and Adrienne trip over an outrageous explanation of why they were in his building, he found himself happily agreeing to go to Karma. Jane had been giddy over his willingness to go. A little too giddy, Chris thought, but whatever.

The beat shook the room and Chris took in the mob on the dance floor. What a bunch of crazies, he thought, grateful that he had so far escaped that pulsing hell.

Chris thought back and realized it had been genius of Adrienne to suggest they exchange contact info before they’d headed to Karma in two cars. “Jane will be driving,” Adrienne explained. You can text me if we get separated. Chris had dumbly agreed. It didn’t make complete sense since Jane obviously had his number and he’d also be busy driving. It was true he had never been to Karma, but he had a GPS like everyone else in the world. But it’s also a no brainer when an interesting woman suggests trading contact info. He hadn’t asked Adrienne for the rescue text, but she knew he needed it.

He was pretty sure he loved Jane, but when she jumped on his lap, there had been no time to think. He simply didn’t want her on his lap, on a ridiculously high stool, out in public. It broke all his PDA rules. If he’d paid attention since the stairwell, he would have noticed Jane’s ramped-up assertiveness, but Chris after all, was just Chris, a guy who wanted to watch a game on TV, but was instead out for a night of dancing.

Another look over at Adrienne and it occurred to Chris that she was seriously dressed for dancing and, like a race horse at the gate, was champing at the bit. She stood, moving to the beat, a little exaggerated, he thought. And for goodness sake, wasn’t she nursing a sore ankle from her fall in the stairwell? A panic set in. It wasn’t just that Chris didn’t like dancing. He knew he was no good at it. Since the incident at his high school homecoming dance, he’d simply refused to get out there with any woman.

Adrienne drained her drink. “Come on, Chris. Let’s get out there!” Before he could answer, she grabbed his hand and pulled. “Hop off that high chair of yours, it’s time to get some exercise.”

With Chris in tow, Adrienne continued to pull until they reached the edge of the dance floor. To Chris, it was the equivalent of the seconds before a cliff dive, something he’d only done once. But the memory of that sensation stayed with him whenever he faced an uncomfortable social situation. She gave him no time to think and soon they were surrounded by a sweaty mash of bodies.

Chris started to move. Thank goodness he’d been loosened up a bit by his last Yuengling. And what better inspiration than seeing Adrienne, clearly a pro, making it look so easy. First one move, then another, he took some chances, and let the beat sink into his body. Before long, Chris was Patrick Swayze, John Travolta and Kevin Bacon wrapped up in a twenty-something millennial on a dance floor in suburban New Jersey.

And that’s when it also occurred to Chris that the reason he was out there on the Karma dance floor was because he wanted to be, and it didn’t matter if he knew how to dance or was good at it, because no one could actually see him. That is, until the others on the floor noticed him, gave him the room that any dance sensation would need and stopped to watch the magic.

Chris pulled Adrienne close and looked out at the crowd taking them in. At the center stood Jane, wearing three shades of anger.

Thank you for reading.


Click here to catch up previous episodes of A Man and His Phone.

Copyright © 2019 by Book Club Mom

All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Friday Fiction – A Man and His Phone

Welcome to A Man and His Phone – a series of relationship mishaps!

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Jane toppled from the stool. Anyone who’d seen would assume she’d had a couple too many. Maybe that was better than what had really happened. Chris had literally brushed her off and there he was fumbling for his phone. She had to blink hard to take it in.

So he won’t answer my text, but he pushes me off his lap just to answer a call? Jane fumed. She looked over as he swiped the screen, and turned his back on Jane and Adrienne to take the call.

Jane turned to Adrienne, hoping for a little girlfriend support. Oh, the times they had spent analyzing this guy and that, trying to crack the man code. If any of their subjects knew the scrutiny they’d been put under, they would either wither or run away fast. But Jane and her friends took the dating scene seriously. Every move a guy made, or didn’t make, was fair game for discussion. Standard were how long it took to text or call after a weekend. Sunday night to check in? That’s solid! Monday and Tuesday? Any longer and the guy is working his options.

Of course, it wasn’t just the text or call and the call was a must at some point. They analyzed thousands of guy behaviors to see where the relationship stood. Have you met his friends? Good sign. Mention of nieces and nephews? Wants kids. Do you only get together on Fridays? Bad sign. Has he left anything at your place? Very good sign. Clothes, mannerisms, food choices, job, use of wallet. It was business, but it was also a sort of entertainment, a frequent happy hour discussion. As if they were members of the same platoon, Jane and her friends swore their loyalties to each other, but below the surface was a world of private thoughts.

Adrienne nodded over to Chris and gave Jane a sympathetic eye roll. There’s a friend for you, Jane thought. No need to explain how I’m feeling. Adrienne knows. Chris seemed to be in no hurry to end his call, if that’s what it was, but for the life of her, Jane couldn’t imagine who he’d be talking to when the action was right here at Karma! She moved over to Adrienne and was glad for a chance to commiserate before the music came back on.

“Did you see that?” she asked her friend. “I mean, I could have broken a bone the way he popped me off his lap just to take a call. Of all people to pledge sudden loyalty to their device!”

“I know! I couldn’t believe how he reacted,” replied Adrienne. “Are you okay, Jane? That was harsh!”

A heavy synthesized beat filled Karma. Jane straightened. “Tell phone man he can find me out dancing. I’m through waiting.”

“I’ll be out there soon,” Adrienne answered. When her friend was out of sight, she pulled out her phone and tapped a message:

You can end your call. She’s dancing now 😉

Thank you for reading.


Click here to catch up previous episodes of A Man and His Phone.

Copyright © 2019 by Book Club Mom

All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Books and friends – perfect together

Image: Pinterest
Image: Pinterest

Some book clubs come and go, but mine has been around for sixteen years.  We started out as young mothers and have watched our babies grow and head off to college.  We used to meet late, after the babies went to bed.  Now we meet early so we can get to bed!

We’ve read a lot of books over the years.  Some of them were great and some were clunkers.  Sometimes we go off topic, and sometimes we go way off topic, but we always have fun.  We are a perfect combination of great friendship, laughter, support and a little bit of gossip and spice!

We started in 2001 with The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan and are still going strong.   Here’s a list of what we’ve read.  I think our selections follow a typical reading trend.  What have you read in your book club?


2001

The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan
While I Was Gone by Sue Miller
Girl with a Pearl Earring  by Tracy Chevalier – 5 star read
Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
Fortune’s Daughter by Alice Hoffman

Girl with a Pearl Earring


2002

Sula by Toni Morrison
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Follow Your Heart by Susanna Tamaro
The Bee Season by Myra Goldberg
The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
The Dive from Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden


2003

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant – 5 star read
Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
The Family Orchard by Nomi Eve
Five Finger Discount – A Crooked Family History by Helene Stapinski
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Gift from the Sea by Ann Morrow Lindbergh
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – 5 star read

the-red-tent    the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardrobe


2004

All He Ever Wanted by Anita Shreve
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – 5 star read
Atonement by Ian McEwan – 5 star read
Princess:  A True Story of Life behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by Jean P. Sasson
Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty
Youngblood Hawke by Herman Wouk – 5 star read
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

the-da-vinci-code     Youngblood Hawke pic


2005

Nickel and Dimed:  On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landuik
How to Be Good by Nick Hornby
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress by Susan Jane Gilman
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett – 5 star read
Remember Me by Trezza Azzopardi
Children of God by Mary Doria Russell

bel-canto


2006

White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Under the Banner of Heaven – A Story of Violent Faith by John Krakauer
A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka
The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
Little Children by Tom Perotta
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – 5 star read
Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver
The World to Come by Dara Horn
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

the-kite-runner


2007

An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore
The Ha Ha by Dave King
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
The Keep by Jennifer Egan
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls – 5 star read
Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Black and White by Dani Shapiro

the-glass-castle


2008

Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz
Good Faith by Jane Smiley
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Double Bind by Chris Bahjalian
The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer – 5 star read
First Mothers by Bonnie Angelo
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – 5 star read
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Giver by Lois Lowrey – 5 star read

from Goodreads     sense-and-sensibility     the giver pic


2009

The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
Peony in Love by Lisa See
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood – 5 star read
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
The Shack by William P. Young
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
A Mercy by Toni Morrison
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – 5 star read
A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton
The Twist in the Road by Rob Hanlon

the-blind-assassin     a-tree-grows-in-brooklyn


2010

The Soloist by Steve Lopez
The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walters
Straight Man by Richard Russo
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – 5 star read
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
My Antonia by Willa Cather
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress – Rhoda Janzen
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann – 5 star read
Game Change by John Heliemann/Mark Halperin
Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

To Kill a Mockingbird pic     let-the-great-world-spin


2011

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – 5 star read
The Hunger Games by Susanne Collins
The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Room by Emma Donoghue
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey – 5 star read

rebecca     one-flew-over-the-cuckoos-nest


2012

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Little Bee by Chris Cleve
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Loving Frank:  A Novel by Nancy Horan
The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – 5 star read
Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
We Hear the Dead by Diane Salerni
Defending Jacob by William Landay
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

Gone with the Wind book cover


2013

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Mayflower – A Story of Courage, Community and War by Nathanial Philbrick


2014

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – 5 star read
Me Before You by JoJo Mayes
The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
The Caged Graves by Dianne Salerni – 5 star read
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer – 5 star read
The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin
Mary Coin by Marisa Silver
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs
All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

the book thief pic     the caged graves pic     the interestings pic


2015

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
A Sudden Light by Garth Stein
The Dinner by Herman Koch
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett


2016

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
After You by Jojo Moyes
The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – 5 star read
Traveling Mercies – Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

all the light we cannot see


2017

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

 

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Friday Fiction is back! Twelve: Chapter 6 – Lemonade

Friday Fiction

Welcome to Twelve, a new book of Friday Fiction! This story begins the summer Emily Kingston turns twelve and is about a friendship that changed everything.

I hope you enjoy it!


CHAPTER SIX – LEMONADE

After a day of swimming at Morris Hills, Jackie, Tommy and I sat on our back steps, as we had done almost every afternoon.  Our suits had been wet, then sun-dried, then wet again, and we sat holding the tall glasses of lemonade Mom had just given us.  My face and my back felt a new layer of heat from sunburn and I was happy to be in the shade.  This routine felt like it would go on forever.  We didn’t think about how school was starting at the end of the month.  The only thing I was thinking about was the lemonade in my hand.

“Hey, let’s have a contest to see who can finish their lemonade first.”

I looked at Jackie.  It didn’t matter what we were doing.  Jackie always found a way to make a game out of it.  Just seconds before, I had been thinking about how I wanted to sit there with my drink, chew on the ice and feel it cool my body from the inside out.  Tommy and Jackie stood up and Tommy said, “Okay, but you know I’m a better chugger than you are, Jackie.”

Jackie said, “Come on, Emily.  We need three for this race.”

I stood up reluctantly, deciding that I could get another glass once our game was over, and drink that one slowly.

Jackie gave us the preliminary rules.  “Okay, here’s what we’re going to do.  I’ll say, ‘Ready, set, go’ and the first one with an empty glass wins.  I’ll even give you guys the advantage since I have more in my glass.  Are we ready?”

We all stood in a circle, facing each other, listening for Jackie’s cue.  Our glasses were raised and we heard Jackie’s “Go!”  I started drinking.    I could see Tommy to my right, guzzling his drink.  Then I heard Tommy yell, “Ahhhhhhhhhhh!” and I looked up to see that Jackie had splashed all her lemonade on Tommy.

Tommy’s shirt and face were covered with lemonade.  I looked at his startled face.  For an instant, he looked vulnerable to me and I felt sorry for what Jackie did.  He was wet with lemonade and then Tommy’s face turned from shock to anger.  In a split second, he was after Jackie, and in an equally quick flash, Jackie was two leaps ahead of him.  He chased her through our backyard and up the street and finally back to the steps.  I could tell that Tommy was still mad.  He looked like he wanted to fight Jackie.  I’d seen Tommy in fights with other boys and thought he stood a pretty good chance of pinning Jackie down and making his point even though he was younger.  I didn’t think he would hit her, but I wondered if he would try to shove her or knock her down, like during our game of Capture the Flag.  But Tommy, if he considered the thought, decided against it and stood there, angry with no recourse.

Jackie was laughing at her trick.  “I win!  My glass was empty first!”

Tommy glared at her.  “You suck, Jackie.”

“Hey, don’t be a baby.  I never said you had to drink your lemonade.  You could have done the same thing to me or to Emily.”

“Yeah, the point is, I wouldn’t have, Jackie, and neither would Emily.  You always take things too far.”

Tommy went inside, letting the door slam, and Jackie and I sat back down on the steps.  Jackie was still laughing when she said, “That was too perfect.  Did you see his face?”

I wanted to tell Jackie that I did see his face and that she couldn’t possibly have seen what I saw.  I was mad again at my best friend.  Then I thought of other things she had done that summer and suddenly I was mad about them too.

“Why did you do that, Jackie?  I mean, really, what was the point?”

Jackie laughed again.  “You two don’t get it.  It was just a joke.  So he got wet from my lemonade.  It’s not like we haven’t been wet all day from swimming.  And it’s not like he’s going to catch a cold or like he was all dressed up in his best clothes.  I was just messing with him.”

I gathered up the strength to face Jackie down.  Maybe it was a small thing, but I saw Tommy’s face.  I knew it wasn’t small to him.

“Well stop messing with him.  I think you went too far.”

“Oh, he’ll get over it.”

Thank you for reading.

Just jumping in?  Click below to read previous chapters:

Chapter 1 – “Meeting Jackie”
Chapter 2 – “Mrs. Conroy”
Chapter 3 – “Downtown”
Chapter 4 – “Capture the Flag”
Chapter 5 – “The Fight”


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Some thoughts and books for Mother’s Day

Mothers-Day-2016-Cards mothers-days.net
Image: mothers-days.net.jpg

As Mother’s Day approaches, I’m thinking about my mom and about being a mom.  We’ll be spending the day with my parents tomorrow, enjoying a nice brunch and honoring my mother.  I won’t have all my kids with me, but I’ll have the whole crew home next week.  So nice to have a full nest for the summer!

So in keeping the wonderful sentiment of honoring and celebrating motherhood, here are a few books that do just that!


Tommy’s Mommy’s Fish by Nancy Dingman Watson

Tommy's Mommy's Fish

If you don’t know this book, try to get your hands on a copy.  I’m told it’s out of print, but it’s such a wonderful story and a great one to read to your kids.


Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

make way for ducklings

Mrs. Mallard causes quite a stir when she leads her eight ducklings through the streets of Boston, across town to meet Mr. Mallard on the pond in the Public Garden!  It’s a wonderful picture book for little children and for young elementary school kids


An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresinowski

An Invisible Thread

Here’s an incredible story about a woman who befriends a boy panhandling in New York, and begins a thirty-year friendship.  Proof that motherhood comes in many forms.


Text Me, Love Mom: Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest by Candace Allan

Text Me, Love Mom cover

You don’t stop being a mom when your kids leave the nest.  Candace Allan tells us how it feels when the flights begin.


Happy Mother’s Day!

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