Imagine with me a city. You’re almost there. It’s a city you’ve always wanted to go to. The [enter your favorite mode of transportation] is creeping ever closer. Then it stops. Almost there, but not quite. Laurel Garver is with us today to talk about her book, Almost There. Let’s see how many times we can use the title in different contexts.
About the Book
Paris, the City of Lights. To seventeen-year-old Dani Deane, it’s the Promised Land. There, her widowed mother’s depression will vanish and she will no longer fear losing her only parent, her arty New York life, or her devoted boyfriend. But shortly before their Paris getaway, Dani’s tyrannical grandfather falls ill, pulling them to rural Pennsylvania to deal with his hoarder horror of a house. Among the piles, Dani finds disturbing truths that could make Mum completely unravel. Desperate to protect her from pain and escape to Paris, Dani hatches a plan with the flirtatious neighbor boy that only threatens the relationships she most wants to save. Why would God block all paths to Paris? Could real hope for healing be as close as a box tucked in the rafters?
About the Author
Laurel Garver is a writer, editor, professor’s wife, and mom to an arty teenager. An indie film enthusiast and incurable Anglophile, she enjoys geeking out about Harry Potter and Dr. Who, playing word games, singing in church choir, and hiking in Philly’s Fairmount Park.
Laughlin and I sit in a vinyl-seated booth, saying nothing as we wait for our burgers —my fare for a fifty-minute visit with Poppa that I hope will set me more firmly on the path to Paris. Laughlin scans the retro diner, looking everywhere but at me, like I’m the delusion he’s trying to convince himself isn’t real. His stony silence clutches my throat. All I can do is mentally rehearse phrases that might cut the tension. I’ve offended him somehow and have no idea how to fix it.
A soothing tongue is a tree of life.
Proverbs 15:4.I must have been about six when I got a gold star for that memory verse. I was all about the gold stars back then. Dutifully parroting words that made the grown-ups smile, earned me extra cookies in Sunday school. The meaning was completely lost on me then. The literal picture of a tongue tree seemed creepy. But the idea that kind, soothing speech could grow something, could make life flourish — well, that’s hope-giving. If God gave me the words to get through to Poppa….
“ Laughlin?” I say gently, “ I want you to know how grateful I am that you let me see my grandfather alone. You deserve a lot more than lunch for it.”
He rearranges packets of sweetener into repeating rainbows: sugar, Equal, Splenda, Sweet-n-Low.
“And I’m sorry for whatever stupid thing I’ve done to make you mad.”
Laughlin continues his sorting project, saying nothing.
Well, I tried. I take a pencil and comment card from the chrome holder, flip to the card’s blank side and sketch the waitress who’s organizing the pie case.
“Whoa,” Laughlin whispers. When I look up, he’s staring at my sketch in awed horror.
“You’re like an artist artist,” he says. “I mean, you can really draw stuff, not just throw paint at a wall and give it a fancy name.”
“I’m not a Jackson Pollock fan either.” I add meringue swirls to the Key Lime and add shading. “Though I imagine making a big, splattery mess is therapeutic.”
He snickers. “You’re too tidy for that kind of thing.”
“Me? Hardly. I’m just doing what I can to help Mum. She’s about three inches away from having a nervous breakdown.”
“Because of your grandpop’s stroke? Or because your dad died?”
“Both,” I whisper, a lump growing in my throat.
The waitress arrives with our drinks and I gulp down half of my Coke. The lump remains, like the words stuck in my throat will suffocate me if I don’t say them. So I return to drawing for a while, letting the pencil strokes soothe me. Laughlin fiddles with the sweetener packets again, dealing them into piles like cards, sorting them into new arrangements. Talk or don’t talk, his motions seem to say. No pressure.
When the choked feeling fades, I say, “If Dad were here, he’d know what to do, especially how to keep Poppa from picking on Mum. He always protected her from Poppa’s meanness. Without him, it’s just me—”
“Trying to keep her safe,” he says.
You’re almost there! Just a few clicks here and a few clicks there and you’ll arrive! Arrive where? Why, you’ll arrive at the rafflecopter page to enter the creative giveaway. a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Well this sounds super interesting. I don’t usually read contemporary, but when I was setting up this post and scrolling through the different excerpts, I was thoroughly intrigued. What do you think? Sound like your kind of book?