Friday, April 23, 2010

Here Is The Truth; This Is What I Know...

I was walking on the beach with Emma. It was cold and very foggy. She let go of my hand. I stopped to photograph a baby seal, then glanced up toward the Great Highway. When I looked up, Emma was gone.

Do you want to know what happens to Emma? So did I. Which is why I bought the book, "The Year of Fog." And why I finished it in two days. And why I hugged Ben a little tighter when he came home from Maui with his dad - and "the girlfriend."

Imagine my surprise - and sheer delight - when I noticed that Michelle Richmond, author of "The Year of Fog" posted a comment on my previous blog. Cool! Except that I wish I had said something different about her book, other than my warning to any mother of a 6-year-old who might consider reading it.

So Michelle, if you will grant me a do-over, I will tell you this:

I liked your book very much and I loved your writing. Yes, the story line - a child, who happens to be six-and-a-half, disappears while in the care of her father's girlfriend - is a bit daunting for obvious reasons: I have a child who is six-and-a-half, I have an ex-husband who has, on occasion, left my child in the care of his girlfriend and I have lived in San Francisco and can visualize almost every landmark and neighborhood that you reference. I've even been to Costa Rica, to the small town where the story eventually leads to. I felt like I've been Abby, "the girlfriend," in a couple of dating scenarios; situations where I knew that the father trusted me implicitly with his children, yet I also knew that was taking on enormous responsibility just by taking the kids to ice cream or by picking them up from school. These scenarios still play out heavily in my mind as I imagine myself as a stepmother, possibly, in the future. Indeed, Michelle, your beautiful book hit me on many different levels.

And that's the thing about a great book. You walk away from the story, but the characters stay with you. Sometimes they haunt you. In a way, Abby, "the girlfriend," is doing that to me now, even though I've finished two books since reading "The Year of Fog." I could see so much likeness: our age, our values, our commitment to relationships, our willingness to take on and love a child that isn't biologically ours. I kept putting myself in Abby's shoes and I could only shudder and wonder: "What if it were me?" Yes, Michelle, you had me at the first chapter. I loved Abby.

I also loved Nick. Certainly you must have based his character off of a real person. I think you created all the elements of a near-perfect gentleman. Is he in San Francisco? Where can I find him? Better yet, send him right over!

For several months now, I've been toying with the idea of pulling my book club back together and sharing the great experience of reading with my good friends. I'm thrilled to have such a fabulous author to share; maybe Michelle will make the short drive to Sac-town and share her extraordinary self with some of us.

In the meantime, thanks for posting, Michelle!


Lish said...

Wow. You have authors reading your blog now? Do you know how jealous I am right now? What with hanging with the dude who won the Oscar (or was nominated, I can't remember) and now this?

I seriously have an idea for a story about a frustrated would-be writer who begins stalking published writers. It wouldn't be creepy - more on the funny or ironic side. Now that I think about it, it would be a good creepy story too.

I hope Junot Diaz starts reading my blog now. I can reverse stalk him.

I am Janeen... said...

Lish, you always make me laugh! Seriously, Michelle does workshops in SF. I want to take my sister! She's a writer - not published yet - but it would be great to take you both. Fiction's not my thing - I'm more of a memoir girl - but it could be a really good learning experience. Check out her website.
Oh, and Jeremy didn't win the Oscar and he was really lit when I hung out with him so not sure that the whole experiences qualifies as my "15 minutes!"

dadshouse said...

Sounds like a great story. I'm a single dad, and I've had to deal with my ex entrusting my kids to her boyfriend on occasion.

Michelle Richmond said...

Hi Janeen. Thanks so much for the wonderful review and for your insightful comments. And I wasn't at all bothered by your warning to mothers of young children. I often issue that very warning myself. In fact, the book was out for a long time before my own sister read it--because the subject matter was too much for her. I understand!

Lish, I'll check out your blog too. Not least of all beause you mentioned the word Oscar. I happen to have an Oscar. Not the award kind, but the offspring kind. He gets very excited every year when the Oscars come around...he's five, and he genuinely believes the Oscars are about him.

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