Friday, March 28, 2014

THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO - Karma or Coincidence? Wrap Up with Me (& the Awesome Arlaina Tibensky)

THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO, my second novel for young adults, is officially OUT! Like, on Barnes & Noble and Independent bookstore shelves ALL OVER THE PLACE. Also, the lovely and thoughtful 11-question Readers' Guide is up on the Algonquin website... I would like nothing (okay, few things) more than to Skype in with your book club (or sit in if you are local) and mull over the answers with you.

Also, if you don't know, THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO is also out in audiobook, and Audiofile Magazine says of the narrator, Tara Sands:

"... Sands expresses the terrible anger that Francesca has denied for years. Even stronger than this crescendo of a performance is Sands's portrayal of the active, adorable Frankie Sky. His malapropisms and misunderstandings counteract Francesca's pain--winning her heart and wowing listeners."


Anyway, if you don't already know:

THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO tells the story of almost-16-yr-old Francesca “Beans” “Frankie” Schnell who, four years ago witnessed her baby brother, Simon, drown. Guilty and broken, Francesca has hunkered down in the shadows of her life, resolved to play second fiddle to her dead brother’s memory and to her best friend Lisette, a blonde bubbly beauty Francesca lives vicariously through. That is, until she meets a young boy named Frankie Sky who bears an uncanny resemblance to her brother. Frankie brings humor and hope to Francesca’s life, but are all the similarities between Frankie and Simon merely wishful coincidences, or could he be Simon’s reincarnation?

Curious coincidences abound in THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO not only the overlaps between Simon and Frankie Skybut also Bradley’s gift to Francesca, Bradley’s bird sighting, and the ties to the statue of  Saint Florian (you'll have to read to know what these are ;)). Midway through the story Francesca starts to think these events can’t really be coincidences, “but something bigger and magical at work.”

Do you think our lives are random, or do you think there’s “something bigger and magical at work”? Have you ever experienced strange events that seemed like more than coincidence and made you wonder if fate was at work or that soul and or reincarnation exist?

Throughout the month, I have posed that question to friends, some writers, others bearing other artistic talents, for a brief account of their own experience with karma, kismet or a mystical connection. I hope you will scroll through all of their intriguing posts. Meanwhile, I leave you to answer the question, “Random or something magical at work?” 

I hope you find these stories as intriguing and lovely as I do.

- gae

Today I have the lovely and talented Arlaina Tibensky, talking about her grandpa in her unique and witty Arlaina way.

Arlaina is the author of the witty, poignant and stellar AND THEN THINGS FALL APART.

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Her stories and essays have appeared in places like One Story, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and the Madison Review. She is the founding curator of the Pen Parentis Literary Salon in New York City.

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My grandpa was kind of an a-hole. 

He was the kind of man who always did whatever he wanted and liked to rattle people’s cages. He rode and repaired motorcycles. He ate French fries with mayonnaise. He liked to smoke and drink. He liked to tell dirty jokes with his mechanic friends, fellow Purple Heart earners from World War II. He had five kids and taught them all to be just like him; fearless, adventurous, to flaunt authority at any opportunity.  

But then he got sick, cancer, and he couldn’t kid his way out of that one. His kids rallied around him with shark cartilage capsules as an experimental cure, homemade soups to warm him up, motorcycle magazines for diversion. The day he died in the hospital after a short stay, his kids- my mom, an uncle, an aunt- and I, sat around his bed. He was yellow and waxy and looked like a life-sized puppet some art school student made of him instead of the actual him. In death, his blue eyes didn’t twinkle, he didn’t tell jokes, he didn’t flirt with the nurses that were half his age. 

That night, five minutes after his line went flat we all sat in the hallway, numb and nauseous with free hospital coffee, too shocked to even talk. Suddenly, all the lights in the hall flickered like a strobe and a fire alarm went off and all the nurses at the station looked surprised, trying to figure out what it was and how to turn it off because as far as most of them could remember, that had never happened before. “Oh, Daddy,” my mother sighed, convinced and delighted that it was him, rattling our cage one last time.

- Arlaina

Anyway, thank you for reading along all month (if you have!). If you haven't, please scroll through the entries. They are really quite touching and intriguing. Oh yes, and please, please, please go out and buy my book. 

xoxo gae

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