Terri Giuliano Long‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:
Description of In Leah’s Wake:
***Newly edited by Sara-Jayne Slack, Inspired Quill Press***
‘Book Club Edition’ with author Q&A and discussion questions added.
The Tylers have a perfect life—beautiful home, established careers, two sweet and talented daughters. Their eldest daughter, Leah, an exceptional soccer player, is on track for a prestigious scholarship. Their youngest, Justine—more responsible than seems possible for her 12 years—just wants her sister’s approval. With Leah nearing the end of high school and Justine a seemingly “together” kid, the parents are set to enjoy a peaceful life…until everything goes wrong. Can this family survive in Leah’s wake?
Margot Livesey, award-winning author of Banishing Verona, calls In Leah’s Wake “a beautifully written and absorbing novel.”
When happens when love just isn’t enough?
Recipient of the CTRR Award for excellence
2011 Book Bundlz Book Pick
Book Bundlz 2011 Favorites, First Place
“Sometimes scary, sometimes sad, and always tender.” Susan Straight, National Book Award finalist, author Take One Candle Light A Room
“In Leah’s Wake is a beautifully written and absorbing novel.” Margot Livesey, Award-winning author of Banishing Verona
“Pulled me right along as I continued to make comparisons to my own life.” Jennifer Donovan, 5 Minutes for Books, Top 50 Book Blog
“An incredibly strong debut, this book is fantastic on many fronts.” Naomi Blackburn, Founder Sisterhood of the Traveling Book
“Easily the best read that I have enjoyed in 2011.” Bonnie Erina Wheeler, author Fate Fixed: An Erris Coven Novel
In Leah’s Wake currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 3.4 stars from 227 reviews. Read the reviews here.
In Leah’s Wake is available for purchase at:
An excerpt from In Leah’s Wake:
Justine strikes a pose before the full-length mirror on her closet door. Chin up, hands at her sides. She draws a breath. “My dear…” she begins, and stops midsentence. Wrinkles her nose. She’s got it all wrong.
She’s too—stiff. Too grown up. Too something.
With her fingers, she sweeps the hair out of her pale, darkly fringed eyes and tugs at the hem of her pink baby-doll pajamas. When she learned five months ago she’d been selected to give the candidates’ address at her Confirmation, Justine was ecstatic. Now, the very idea of standing in front of the whole congregation and telling hundreds, maybe thousands, of people about how her own family has taught her what it means to be part of God’s larger family makes her sick to her stomach.
She has no choice. She made a commitment.
Folding her hands primly, she sets them on her imaginary podium. Glancing at her cheat sheet, she pulls her lower face into a smile and begins again. “My fellow Confirmation candidates,” she says this time.
Justine balls the paper and tosses it onto her bed. My fellow Confirmation candidates. What a dork. She sounds about twenty instead of thirteen.
She unclasps her necklace, places the gold cross in her jewelry box, and logs onto her computer, launching the Word document for her Confirmation speech. She scans the opening paragraph. “I’ve learned from my own family what it means to be part of God’s larger family,” she reads. Learned from my own family what it means to be part of God’s larger family? Please. Could she have been any more naïve?
She hits delete.
Typing furiously, she begins a brand new essay, the words tumbling out. In a rush of emotion, Justine describes how miserable she feels. And how very, very alone.
One – Just Do It
Zoe and Will Tyler sat at their dining room table playing poker. The table, a nineteenth century, hand-carved mahogany, faced the bay window overlooking their sprawling front yard. Husband and wife sat facing one another, a bowl of Tostitos and a half-empty bottle of Chablis positioned between them. Their favorite Van Morrison disc—Tupelo Honey—spun on the player, the music drifting out of speakers built into the dining room walls.
Dog, their old yellow Lab, lay on a blanket under the window.
Zoe fanned her cards. She was holding a straight. If she laid it down she’d win her third hand in a row, and her husband would quit. If she didn’t, she would be cheating herself.
“Full moon,” she said, glancing out the window. “No wonder I had trouble sleeping last night.”
The full moon made her anxious. For one of her graduate school internships, she’d worked on the psych ward at City Hospital in Boston. When the moon was full the floor erupted, the patients noisy and agitated. Zoe’s superiors had pooh-poohed the lunar effect, chalked it up to irrationality and superstition. Zoe had witnessed the flaring tempers, seen the commotion with her own two eyes, and she’d found the effect impossible to deny—and the nurses concurred.
Will set his empty glass on the table. With his fingers, he drummed an impatient tattoo. “You planning to take your turn any time soon? Be nice if we ended this game before midnight.”
“For Pete’s sake, Will.” Her husband had the attention span of a titmouse. He reminded her of Mick, a six-year-old ADD patient she counseled—sweet kid, when he wasn’t ransacking her office, tossing the sand out of the turtle-shaped box, or tweaking her African violets.
“What’s so funny?” he asked, sulking.
She shook her head—nothing, Mick—and forced a straight face.
“You’re laughing at me.”
“Don’t be silly. Why would I laugh at you?”
He peered at the window. Smirking, he finger-combed his baby-fine hair, graying at the temples, carving a mini-pyramid at his crown.
“Nice ’do. Could use a little more gel,” she said, feeling mean spirited the instant the words slipped out of her mouth. Her husband was exhausted. He’d spent the week in California on business. Though he had yet to fill her in on the details, it was obvious his trip had not gone well. “Sorry,” she said. “Just kidding.” She took another look at her cards, hesitated, and laid down the straight.
“Congratulations.” Scowling, he pushed away from the table. “You win again.”
“Way to go, grumpy. Quit.”
“I’m getting water,” he said, flattening his hair. “Want a glass?”
Dog lifted her head, her gaze following Will to the door. She yawned and settled back down.
Her husband stomped across the kitchen, his footfalls moving toward the family room. The music stopped abruptly and then the opening chords of a Robbie Robertson tune belted out of the speakers. Zoe appreciated the gesture. She loved Robbie Robertson; “Showdown at Big Sky” was one of her favorite songs. That didn’t mean the entire state of Massachusetts wanted to hear it.
From the kitchen, heading his way, she caught his eye. “Turn it down,” she mouthed, gesturing. “You’ll wake Justine.”
He pulled a face and lowered the music.
Exasperated, she returned to the dining room. She bundled the cards, put the deck in the sideboard drawer, and gathered the dishes.
The toilet flushed in the half-bath off the back hall. Then she heard her husband rattling around the kitchen, slamming the cabinet doors. In April, Will had won a major contract for his company, North American Construction. For five months, he’d been flying back and forth to the West Coast, spending two weeks a month on the job site in San Francisco. Zoe hadn’t minded his traveling at first. A glut of office and manufacturing space had tanked construction starts in the northeast; with sales in a slump, his commissions had steadily dwindled. To compensate, they’d initially relied on their savings. In January, they’d remortgaged the house.
The project spared them bankruptcy. But his schedule was brutal. Will hated traveling, being away from the family, living out of a suitcase. He missed her and the kids. Now, with soccer season in full tilt, it was especially hard. Last year, when she was only a sophomore, their daughter had been named “Player of the Year” on the Boston Globe All-Scholastic team. The sports reporter from the Cortland Gazette had called Leah the “best soccer player in the state.” Head coaches from the top colleges in the northeast—Harvard, Dartmouth, Boston College—had sent congratulatory letters, expressing their interest.
Since her first day on the field, Will had trained and guided their daughter. He wanted to be here now to meet the prospective coaches and help her sort through her options. Zoe knew how tough this was on him. It didn’t seem to occur to Will that his traveling disrupted her life, too. Last year she’d developed a motivational seminar, called, “Success Skills for Women on the Move.” With the girls practically grown, the workshops were her babies. The extra workload at home added to the demands of her fulltime job at the counseling center, left her no time for marketing or promotion, and the workshops had stagnated. Zoe understood her husband’s frustration. It irked her that he failed to recognize hers.
Will appeared in the doorway a few minutes later, empty-handed. Her husband was tall, a hair shy of six-one. He’d played football in college, and at forty-five still had the broad shoulders and narrow waist of an athlete. Amazing, really: after eighteen years of marriage, she still found him achingly sexy. Crow’s feet creased the corners of his intelligent blue eyes and fine lines etched his cheekbones, giving his boyish features a look of intensity and purpose. Zoe recognized those qualities from the start, but it was only now, as he was aging, they showed on his face.
After work, he’d changed into jeans and a gray sweatshirt with the words “Harvard Soccer Camp” across the chest. He pushed up his sleeves and peered around the room as though looking for something.
“Zoe?” Normally, he called her “Honey” or “Zo.”
“I put the cards away.” She thumbed the sideboard. “You quit, remember?”
“She went to the football game with Cissy. They hardly see each other lately. I thought it was nice.”
“She ought to be home by now.”
She glanced at the cuckoo clock on the east-facing wall. Their daughter was a junior in high school. They’d agreed before the start of the school year to extend her weekend curfew to eleven. It was ten minutes past.
“You know Leah. She probably lost track of the time.”
Will, nodding, went to the window.
Their driveway, half the length of a soccer field, sloped down from the cul-de-sac, ending in a turnaround at the foot of their three-car garage. In summer, the oak and birch trees bordering the property obscured their view of the street. Now, with the trees nearly bare, they could see the flash of headlights as vehicles entered the circle.
Dog hauled herself to her feet and pressed her nose to the glass.
Will stretched his neck, wincing. His back was bothering him again, residual pain from a football injury he’d suffered in college.
Zoe came up behind him, pushing Dog’s blanket aside with her foot. “You’re tight,” she said, squeezing his shoulders.
He dropped his chin. “That feels good. Thanks. I’ve got to get one of those donut pillows for the plane.”
“Try to relax. You know Leah. She has no sense of time.”
“I can’t see why Hillary won’t set a curfew. All the other coaches have one.”
“You’re blowing this out of proportion, don’t you think?”
A flash of headlights caught their attention. An SUV entered the cul-de-sac and rounded the circle, light sweeping across their lawn.
“She has a game in the morning,” Will said.
Will ruffled Dog’s ears. “Reardon’s coming specifically to see her. She plays like crap when she’s tired.”
The Harvard coach. She should have known. “So she doesn’t go to Harvard,” she said, a tired remark. “She’ll go someplace else.”
“There is no place else.”
No place with such fantastic opportunities, great connections…blah, blah, blah. They’d been over this a million times. If their daughter expressed any interest at all in Harvard, Zoe would do back flips to support her. As far as she could tell, Harvard wasn’t even on Leah’s radar screen. It was a moot point, anyway. Leah’s grades had been slipping. If she did apply for admission, she’d likely be denied.
“Reardon’s got pull. He’s been talking to Hillary about her,” he said. “She can’t afford to blow this opportunity.”
What opportunity? “Face it, Will. She doesn’t want to go to Harvard.”
“If she plays her cards right, she can probably get a boat.”
“Please,” Zoe said, set to blast him. He’d received a full football scholarship from Penn State. What did he do? Dropped out of college. Was that what he wanted? For their daughter to burn out and quit? Noting the purple rings under his eyes, she held back. “You’re exhausted.” His plane had barely touched ground at Logan Airport when he was ordered to NAC’s corporate office in Waltham for a marketing meeting. He hadn’t had time to stop at home to change his clothes, never mind take a short nap. “Why don’t you go to bed? I’ll wait up.”
The look he returned implied that she’d lost it.
“Relax, Will. For all we know, they had a flat.”
“She would have called.”
“So call her.” Duh.
“I did. I got voicemail.”
Shoot. “You know Leah. Her battery probably died.” She was grasping at straws. Leah was sixteen. That phone was her lifeline. Still, it could be true. It was possible. Right?
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