Thursday, March 10, 2011
Exposed, written by Kimberly Marcus.
"I lean my bike against an oak
tinted with autumn's promise
and raise my camera to catch a shot
of a wistful woman,
gray hair in a long braid down her back,
patting sweat from her neck
with a green bandana
as she pauses atop her ride-on mower
and stares out across her big yard
at all the grass yet to be mowed."
I had a plan to watch curling, reading this new book only while the endless commercials ran. When I looked up to see that they were already in the sixth end, tied at three, I was on page 171 and didn't want to stop to pour my next cup of tea. How does that happen? I'll tell you...you get an amazing book in your hands and the world falls away while you get caught up in the drama that is hidden there.
And drama there is, and love, and friendship, and loss of innocence, and loyalty, and uncertainty, and support, and heartache. I haven't even told you about Liz and Kate, about Mike and Brian and the minor set of characters who have a role to play in this stunning debut novel.
Liz and Kate are forever-best friends...nothing gets in the way of their Saturday Night Slumber. It is a tradition. They tell each other everything and sometimes too much. That's what happens at the latest sleepover. Liz speaks out about some of the decisions Kate is planning to make. It's once too often for Kate. She's mad, then Liz is mad and off she goes to bed on her own, leaving Kate to sleep on the couch. When she awakens in the morning Kate has gone and nothing Liz says, over the course of the coming days and weeks, makes a difference to the gulf that separates them.
When Kate is finally able to tell Liz what happened, it shakes Liz to the core and their friendship is forever changed:
"In the corner of the main lobby
before Tuesday's first bell,
Amanda, Dee Dee,
and other girls drawn to drama
crowd around Kate, hugging her,
whispering in her ear.
Her body is tight and I know
the last thing she wants is a pity party.
I want to rush over,
take her hand, pull her away.
But I didn't make the guest list."
Liz is an aspiring photographer who finds solace in the images she sees through a camera's lens. Even that changes in the events that unfold; and she loses her focus and almost gives up her dreams of attending art school. She learns much about herself as she struggles to come to grips with what has happened:
"But, while listening to the lawyers plead their case, I realized
I no longer see things
in crisp black-and-white contrasts -
some things come in shades of gray,
hues that give me pause and make me wonder,
make me want to know more."
Finally accepting that the life plans they have made together since they were little girls are no longer possible, Liz asks some heartbreaking questions:
"Who will be her maid of honor?
Which friend will hold her baby first?
Who will sit beside her
on a summer porch swing,
when hairs gray and memories start to fade,
and remind her that she was once
The Mistress of Modern Dance,
It won't be me."
I still have tears in my eyes. Realistic and powerful, it will find a place on my 'keepers' shelf and it will be endlessly shared. Bravo, Kimberly.