Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day celebrations at Arlington cemetery on TV while I write this. Seems strange to think that I will never hear another one of my Dad's war stories from his time in the South Pacific. Some of them were funny - like the bug crawling in his ear - but others were very sad. Now Dad is with his childhood and war time buddies again, telling stories and playing cards.

Grieving for those we love is not easy. This reality is starkly, but beautifully portrayed in Ellen Wittlinger's upcoming novel Blind Faith. All the stages of grief are present in this novel, from absolute denial to acceptance. Liz's grandmother Bunny has died and her mother is grieving like a daughter, a daughter who is not able to be a mother and help her own daughter grieve for the grandmother who was more a mother to her than her own. Liz wants to believe in the readings she hears at the spiritualist church her mother has sought out in her grief. She wants to believe like her mother does. She wants to accept the "mistakes" in the readings, such as the cat in her grandmother's hands is really a bunny, since her name is Bunny. But she also understands her father's anger at her mother for believing in what he considers bunk. As the son of a fundamentalist father who proved to be both an adulterer and embezzler he had turned his back on all organized religion and his God is nature. When Nathan, Courtney and their dying mother move in at Crabby's house across the street, Liz's family sees another kind of grief - that of children knowing their mother is dying and the realization of a bitter old woman that her daughter is dying and she will be raising the grandchildren she never knew. Nathan's anger is so intense it radiates off the pages and Courtney's anger at not being told until the last minute that her mother is dying brings tears to the eyes. Wittlinger handles the issues of belief beautifully - never suggesting that there are any right answers in who or what God is and/or how one should believe or worship. The conversations between the teenagers about their beliefs are realistic as are the often less than mature reactions of the adults to death. I can't say enough wonderful things about this novel. Wittlinger is a gifted YA author and she has, yet again, taken a controversial but every present issue relevant to teens and given it a voice via a character who both makes you laugh and cry. I want to know Liz and listen to her play Mozart! Ellen, I applaud your skill and heart as a writer to speaks to teens as no one else can.

We are off to Iggy's for a burger for lunch. Been cooped up in this apartment working on the first draft of TT for HS, vol. II to send in tomorrow. Need to sit outside and watch the ocean for a bit.