Reading Response: The Love that Split the World

Two things pro51hdo1g8aSL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_mpted me to pick up Emily Henry’s The Love that Split the World. First, I heard that Lionsgate had picked up the film rights. Yes, I know that not every book optioned for film is a good book, but it piqued my curiosity, okay? Secondly, that cover. I don’t judge books by their cover, but I will pick up a book because of a beautiful one.

Once I was finished, I tweeted that I’d only stopped reading to sleep and switch my laundry around. That wasn’t entirely true; I also fixed food for myself and my offspring. Aside from that nonsense, I was reading. It was definitely hard to put down. The mystery begins to build immediately, and along the way you suspect things and then they’re wrong, then you suspect things and you might be right–but wait! What about that thing that happened a few chapters ago? How will that work out? Et cetera.

It’s hard to talk too much about the plot without giving things away, and this book is probably best read knowing very little. Natalie is visited for years by a “spirit” she calls Grandmother. Grandmother tells Natalie story after story: Native American folklore and Bible stories, and encourages Natalie to remember them. One night, as Natalie is preparing to graduate from high school, Grandmother visits again and tells her, “Three months to save him, Natalie.” Grandmother stresses the importance of the stories, but Nat doesn’t know who to save, or how, or even why, and she’s not sure she’ll ever see Grandmother again. Immediately after, she meets Beau, a student at her high school–or is he?–and she starts to see “wrong things”; the places she’s known all her life seem to have more than one version.

As the explanation for what was happening started to unfold, I’ll admit it was hard at times to keep up. I don’t read books with magical/fantastical elements to them very often, so that might be why these parts slowed me down. They didn’t affect how I felt about the story, though. I was left guessing until the conclusion, although I had a lot of feelings about how it all would shake out. In the end, his book lived up to its intriguing cover, and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for Emily’s next book.

Field of 33

In honor of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, Indiana Humanities opened a poetry competition. The winner took home $1000, tickets to the race, and the title of Official Track Poet! I was excited to hear that the poem I’d written, Brickyard Baptism, was chosen as part of the “Field of 33,” and will be part of a First Friday poetry event in May! The entire Field of 33 can be found here, including the winning poem, alpha by author. I am looking forward to reading them all, and to hearing many of them in a couple of weeks!

Crying at the Movies

The movie based on Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You has been getting a lot of press lately. I read the book and loved it as much as you can love a book like that. Which is to say: I was crying but not mad I read it. It was a page turner and I recommend it to friends with a big fat asterisk. That said, I’m undecided about the movie. Will I see it? Will I hate myself for it?

I’ve also been horrified by the Facebook comments I’ve seen from acquaintances who obviously have not read the book: “This movie looks so cute!” “Check this out, I can’t wait to see this!” I’m not the kind of person to condescendingly insist you read a book before you see the movie, but please lordy read the book first. Good? Yep. Cute? Not entirely.

Getting a bit less traction (at least in my neck of the Internet) is the movie made from the book Light Between Oceans. How did I not know this was happening? This was a stellar book which I was thankful a friend lent to me–and I was not a bit angry at her when it made me cry. The movie looks equally moving, but very good! The trailer is here.

Will I be in the theater when these movies hit? Oh, probably. I’ll call my sister or a friend who has read the book, and we’ll skip the mascara and be there, purses shoved full of Kleenex.


Tough and Brave

As soon as I tell the boys to put their shoes on, the five-year old clutches his abdomen. “My belly hurts,” he tells me. “I think I’m gonna barf.”

I sigh because it was the same all last week, and the first day it happened the nurse called me to pick him up. Now he sees the stomachache as a means to an end, hope for rescue. He loved school at first and this is new. But the nurse and the teacher are pros, so now they place a trash can by his desk and press on.

This morning, though, there are tears in his eyes. “I miss my family while I’m at school,” he says, and at first I think, wow, this kid is good. But then his little lip trembles and my heart twists because I know he is for real. I glance quickly at the clock; the bus is already on our street. My head tsks at my heart. I’ve got to mother him, but fast. He must be on that bus or I’ll have bought us another week of mornings just the same.

“I miss you too, but you’d be bored here,” I say lightly. “I’m working, Daddy’s working, the other kids are at school. We don’t watch TV or play video games.” I pause. “Put your shoes on.”

Halfway down the driveway he turns to me again, his tiny face fighting the downturn of his lips as he speaks. “I don’t have a very good memory,” he says.

“For what?”

“For remembering you and Daddy when I’m at school.”

And every cell in my body says, let this child miss the bus. But instead I kneel in front of him.

“That’s probably just because your brain is so busy when you’re there,” I reassure. “You could go to school a million days in a row and never forget Daddy and me.”

I hug him tight as the bus barrels around the corner. “Be tough and brave, and I will be waiting here when you get home,” I say, pulling his hood up and over his blond head.

His tiny legs stretch up the two tall steps of the bus and I see him take his seat inside. I wave and smile, but the windows are tinted and it’s sunny and I can’t see him wave back.

I turn back to the house, biting my lip. “Tough and brave,” I repeat.

Poem at Silver Birch Press

Silver Birch Press has published my poem, “Lines,” as part of their Learning to Drive series. Writing this poem took me on a nostalgic trip back to the stress and excitement of being a newly-Permitted driver, and I had fun writing about this little slice of memories with my Dad.

Reading Response: The Life Intended

I knew athelifeintendedbout a quarter of the way through The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel that it was going to make me cry. But I was too far in to turn back. The central character, Kate, begins to have vivid dreams of her husband Patrick and their life together–a life that never happened because Patrick died twelve years earlier. Kate is naturally troubled by the dreams but finds comfort in them, compared to a reality where she still feels unsettled. Most surprising, though, is the appearance of a daughter, Hannah, who doesn’t exist in the real world.

If you read the reviews on Goodreads, you’ll see many saying that what would usually be an end-of-book reveal becomes obvious early on, and I’d agree. But I felt invested enough to continue, and wanted to know how it would all play out. Not everyone would feel that way, though, and that will be a major factor in whether I recommend this book. It’s entirely possible that the author meant it this way, that it was planned for us to suspect how things would end, and just stay along for the ride. It’s maybe not how I would have preferred to find out, but it didn’t ruin the book for me.

I liked the characters and enjoyed the subplots of Kate’s career (music therapy), how the appearance of a hard-of-hearing character launched her into learning ASL, and how she began to merge the two. It really just scratched the surface, of course, but I thought it was different and interesting.  I loved Kate’s relationship with Patrick’s mother, Joan; it was well done and realistic. There were some fantastical elements but for me, they didn’t distract from the story.

Did I cry? Maybe a little. Am I sorry I read it? Not at all.


I Can’t Know Everything

I’m not sure I could tell you the number of times I have called my mother for life advice, but the highest percentage of my questions have been related to food expiration. I’ve never actually suffered from food poisoning, but live in fear of it, and of the crippling guilt I’d inevitably experience if my children suffered it at my irresponsible hands.

So I call my mom. Has this cheese been sitting out too long? Should we eat lettuce with brown edges? Is spaghetti from dinner on Monday going to kill my children at lunch on Thursday? My mother’s response is most often exactly the same, a less-than-reassuring: “It should be fine,” so most times I still Google, to be sure.

My own daughter is especially curious and asks questions that challenge me daily. Unlike generations of mothers before me, I have the option of hiding in the bathroom asking the internet what a wombat habitat might look like, but why pretend? I’m already quite busy re-learning algebra and signing overdue permission slips. I can’t feel badly for not knowing every color rabbits can be, or who invented Leap Years. So some days I open my laptop and say, “Let’s look it up,” and some days I shout, “I CAN’T KNOW EVERYTHING!” and shove an iPad at her while I stir dinner with one hand and practice spelling words with her brother.

But, as with my own calls to my mother, knowing I don’t have all the answers doesn’t stop them from asking. It hasn’t shaken their confidence in me. On the good days, we learn it together. On the crazy days, I pay them a dollar to brush my hair after dinner and they tell me what they learned.

And when I accidentally left my produce delivery on the porch for two days, I called my mom.

She said it should be fine.


I love the idea of the 30-in-30 poetry challenges for April. I’ll be alternating back and forth between the prompts at and the April PAD Challenge at Writer’s Digest. While the ultimate goal is, of course, 30 poems, I am trying to be realistic. Days will be missed because that’s life; missing a day will just result in a bit of extra time spent on another day. I will complete 30-in-30, but it might not be 30 days daily. Dig?

We just took the kids to Chicago for a museum whirlwind, and while there was an abundance of inspiration, there wasn’t a lot of writing-friendly downtime. Unless, that is, you count my new works, “Can You Please Be Patient While I Look At This Picasso for One More Minute” and “Going To Bed At Ten O’Clock And Watching TV On Mute Because We Are In A Hotel Room With Our Children.” Hopefully I’ll end the month with a few pieces that are promising enough to build on in May!




“Too many unread books at home,” I sing-song to myself, even as I pull the paperback from the store shelf. “Don’t do it,” I plead, as the book makes its slow-motion arc into my shopping basket. “I don’t need this,” I think, as the cashier runs the back cover over the price scanner. And then, at last, it’s mine.

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Over coffee I say, spinning cream into liquid,

that I am three years from forty,

ten from fifty after that.

My friend laughs but she’s just 34.

What can she know?

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