A story about sisters, family, and discovery. There are keys that fit the locks to open the possiblities to reach your future. Dessen writes about Ruby’s journey to her destination and what it brings with it to help her fulfill her goals.
I finished this one and that made me sad because I am still thinking about these characters and their relationships with each other.
This is a beautiful story about relationships in general and learning to trust after being hurt. The story behind the key follows with the reader as this unfolds and it plays a big part in the theme and the progression of these lives.
Dessen crafts a progression of her main character, Ruby with all the facets on display as this young girl develops into a wonderful person with an adult insight into relationships and what is important to a family unit.
“Our definitions were as different as we were ourselves.” (288) Quite a quote to remember and take away from this novel.
Ruby’s thesis on the term family is often a part of this story, too. She becomes a unique student with her goals driving her toward finding the right college or university to attend after she completes her education in a new location with new friends and a new family unit.
I read the paperback edition of this one. The key is a small part of the cover image but I know what it looks like from the description and the big part it plays in Ruby’s life and another woman’s career. Ruby’s key becomes a noted item that helps another character find her success and also helps her find love right around the corner from her where it has always been located. This older character’s progression leads her to love, trust, and letting go.
Ruby’s relationships inside this thick volume are intriguing and she begins to see more inside these people instead of what is only located on the outside of them.
This is one of my favorite novels and I will remember it for a long while. Just like Ruby remembers the boy next door in this story. Supporting characters are apparent and moving.
Life of a Girl in 2018~
She said, “long live chocolate, vodka, and Heroin.”
As she pulled the blankets over her head.
She only sought the darkness and warmth
Within this enveloping cave
Of close rapture,
And then her mind went on…
“I hope you’re thinking about me.”
She touched her hair,
“Why do we close our eyes when we
I do this when I kiss you,
The most beautiful things in my life
Are felt inside my heart not seen.
I watched the white roses die
That you brought me
Littering my window sill with them
Dried, brown petals.
We were naughty together
Two days ago,
Sleeping in your parents’ room
Sharing a cold bottle of Gin,
We found in their kitchen
Mixing it with jarred cherries
And ice-cold Sprite,
Bodies to our close friends,
I see nothing better // I keep him forever,
Plays over and over,
It is printed inside my head,
The smell of sulfur
Penetrating my senses,
As the Disneyland Princesses
Dance to the musical notes,
so, I’m still at that confusing stage,
I can’t wait to go home. –J. E. Cook ©2018
When the worship hour
Comes upon a being of Earth,
Where do they look for guidance and
Extreme measures in solution?
Maybe, they turn to the Buddhist
Practices in mantras and mandalas
Or a nun’s string of prayer beads,
Or a more natural experience
From the lands,
In Native American practices
where cultures identify with nature
And they hear the beat of the
Makes their spaces
Opening their minds
To the systematic
Solutions buried inside them. –J. E. Cook (C) 2018
To be told that your lover is gone,
As gently as one can be told
That your lover, the man you wanted
Planned to spend the rest of your life
That man is no longer among the
He disappeared like
The white feathery pins of a dandelion
In the wind,
Drifting off to another place,
Gone back to the earth’s soil,
To become something else,
Strolling through the wild vines
With another widow,
Feeling like the hay chafe
Left behind by the grazing herd,
She feels something lingering
Like his fingers touching her
Intimate places hid from the world,
Or him watching for her
Among the forest leaves and withering pines,
As the stars of our universe
Sparkle and shine,
The wind like his warm breath,
He could be alive somewhere waiting,
Or watching the slippery stones of moss
In the flowing crystal streams,
Her female soul wants to run
For the moors,
To be together wild and free,
Because the living has no answers
Will he watch her undress now?
She hopes her memory does not
Grow vague of him,
Like a dusty forgotten canvas,
The artist has gone
Leaving it behind,
Unfinished was their love,
She desires to dissolve gradually
Free to let go,
Becoming one of those
Vacant houses standing still
After the harvest,
With no heat or lights,
She remembers the blossoms
Of their secret garden,
Thriving all summer long,
Nourishing them daily,
Those river roses of pinks and reds,
Past their peak
No mark left behind
To shake the memories again. –J. E. Cook ©2018
Rain cometh upon Our Journey
Raining in the night,
Leaves on the ground,
Flashes of light,
Wrens to the South,
Maybe, the Gulf of Mexico,
Rain still falling,
Covering a valley in mists of it,
Fog filling in among the weaving
The river filling,
Weight of raindrops pulling,
Autumn leaves losing color,
Large puddles forming
In wet fields of mud and swampy debris,
Pathways are murky and slick,
Still, the water comes down
As yellow headlights swallow up
With faith in the plan,
We continue this journey
Faith in the course of it,
Swimming on among the sea
Cascades of water cover the
Dirt roads and the saturated lands
Are minutes from flooding
The valley ahead,
But, we go on,
It’s too dark to
We need to be HOME. —J. E. Cook ©2018
To look out the window
Filled with continued longing,
Eyes seeking the ground
Towards the flowing river
With the extending trees on fire
With the high colors
Of the crisp autumn season,
Who’s soul dances among
Those brittle leaves
Covering the moist ground?
To be a wisp of a girl again
Walking around the gathering, wet
Stones in the swift stream,
Dancing among the tall, magnificent
White birches in the back fields,
Staying along the river
To return home
After an afternoon spent in the warm beams
Of sunlight breaking through. –J. E. Cook ©2018
Today, I read some reviews of my poetry and revised one, too. I came across one poem I would like to share here because it is so wonderful and full of insight into another character invented in someone else’s writing.
This poem is by Doodley,
If every journey has an ending,
And every story has a start,
Would thy thoughts remain unbending,
That the Tin Man once had a heart?
That he lived a life of leisure,
In the forests of Oz forevermore,
Where the chipmunks frolicked in pleasure,
Upon evergreen seas of wood lawn floor.
Where the canopies teemed with birdsong,
And cicadas serenaded the night,
And the Lunar Queen on velvet throne,
Bathed the land in pearly light.
Tangerine beams of Sun’s contentment,
Polished his soul to silver sheen,
And the mist of disenchantment,
In his life, was nowhere to be seen.
And he reveled in joyous solitude,
In his home deep in the woods,
Where his apple orchard gave gratitude,
With unending ripened goods.
Then one glorious tranquil morn,
In the depths of florescent Spring,
Was his covert nurturing faith reborn,
When he heard the voice of an Angel sing.
For there beneath an apple tree,
Stood an emblem of Love divine,
Such a beauteous Nymph as there could be
Caressing the fruits upon its vine.
With cascading falls of golden locks,
And eyes a misterium of onyx hue,
She sang and whirled to emerging flocks,
That flew down to rest from the azure blue.
In the silent whoosh of Cupid’s rush,
There amidst the scores of Turtle Dove,
Their gaze did meet through crimson blush,
And they fell to depths of torrid Love.
And there amongst the swelling throng,
They twirled together entwined as one,
As Nature’s bards took up the song,
And the Lunar Queen embraced her Sun.
As daylight wilted to twilight gloam,
And starlight shyly twinkled through,
He guided her to his simple home,
Where Life and Love was born anew.
Through the fertility of the Springtime,
And all through the Summer’s swell,
Did their heart’s converse in Love’s rhyme,
In wondrous bliss did they both dwell.
But when Old Man Autumn in rustic fawn,
Encroached the serenity of this place,
Had the creeping tendrils of restless dawn,
Shone ill light upon their Love’s solace.
For the Wood Nymph had ambition,
She was no patient Eremite,
And she rebelled in true sedition,
Lured by the Emerald City’s bright.
One night under veiled star-fall,
While in dreaming did the Tin Man lay,
Did the Wood Nymph pack her belongings all,
And stole his radiant heart away.
And when he awoke to sunlight stream,
That shimmered his glossy face,
His world collapsed to nightmare dream,
She had disappeared without a trace.
He trawled through the woods in panic,
Let loose cries and desperate pleas,
That reverberated fleetingly manic,
On the gossiping Autumn breeze.
When his calls echoed in silence,
And stirred no sleeping ghost,
He lapsed into despairing violence,
For loss of things he loved the most.
He wailed in tormented grieving,
Like a baying Hound of Hell,
And struck his chest a-heaving,
His now heartless empty shell.
Then his trusty axe he took to hand,
And Cut! And Chopped! And Sliced!,
Decimating his orchard from the land,
In a whirlwind of rage and vice!
When his madness had abated,
He stood alone under gleaming sky,
As sorrow’s waves invaded,
On the breath of his longing sigh.
With his soul now torn asunder,
And with his hope ground into dust,
He hearkened to the distant thunder,
Then cried himself to rust.
All the forest joined to mourn him,
Shed their leaves in solemn prayer,
As the Solar King dialed down to dim,
In respect for the Life lost there.
And the passing days did wither,
Under first frost of Winter’s kiss,
Delayed by the Ice Queen’s dither,
In her fear of discourteous remiss.
And the Tin Man remained there frozen,
Through all time and Love’s decay,
‘Till a young girl and Scarecrow chosen,
Walked the Yellow Brick Road his way.
I admired his creative vision of this character inside his words…I also thought about his review about one of my poems, and how he seemed to want more information on my character in my poem because she was the POV inside it.
Therefore, I revisited it. I decided I must revise it and make it more complete in structure and thoughts.
Here it is after being revised:
A Poem by Josie E. Cook M. A.
Daydreaming and thinking about the time and space of the past…
Gazing out at the faraway islands,
She imagines the handsome faces
The British killed,
Buried here, leaving behind young widows,
To assess the ocean alone.
Her eye on one point on the horizon
As she thinks about reckless pirates
going to the Indies
Or Charles Town.
Her mind on
The sandy shoals between Beaufort,
And the Atlantic waters,
She once visited a place on Bogue Island,
That had a decaying fort,
And an inlet where old ships came to visit
They were rumored to be the protection
Against Indian bandits,
The army camping there never completed
The southern walls,
Musket balls could be
lingering in the dirt,
Along with buried wreckage,
Summer is ending,
And she often thinks about the dead
As her garden dies,
What haunts this land
are the lingering ghosts
Of those men and boys that left Beaufort,
Promising letters to their waiting ladies,
All they became were moving targets
for the British invasion
As their muskets fired,
Local uniforms were covered in crimson stains,
Dark holes and charred souls linger
In old passageways,
Their ladies long dead,
After sleepless nights thinking
Deeply about their lost kisses.
She doesn’t like loving these trapped
As she stands at her open door
Watching the glint of the rising moon
On her moving sea in front of her.
She would rather think of a tranquil location
In sunny Beaufort,
Where a meadow is filled with grazing cows
Pecan trees. Green apples are brought to them,
As a bluebird
Moves from branch to branch
Above the herd,
And the pecans fall and fill the open air.
Now she sits on her porch swing,
Thinking of a studious painter, she loves
Living in New Bern,
Where he works on detailed miniatures and his
Art will be moved weekly
and arrive in distant places,
She longs to pose for him again soon.
Her knees draw up,
And she twists her hair slowly
Thinking about him and his socked feet
Smiling at her as he hands over
A little painting of her.
Her secret treasure, in an ivory frame
And the size of a thumbnail
Her having a picnic with him,
Born from a hastily drawn sketch in ink,
Now, vibrant in flowing oils,
She leaves 1782 behind with a fleeting
Thought about a lost letter
She discovered yesterday morning
While cleaning the crowded attic,
She Imagined the smell of it,
As her eyes read,
About somewhere inland,
And a Sunday camp filled with pain
Over lost cousins,
And a sweetheart missed with
The miles of unknown
Pressing into her mind
A whistle of a Cherokee arrow
Breaking the silence
Of the frontier there inside
Would the island slaves solve anything
With the Lord’s prayer?
The gilded-edge scene is buried
In her thoughts
As she watches their sun disappear
Leaving the colors of her fall behind to
Hide in the shadows of the casting
Boughs among the flowing hills
Beyond the seas and distant shores.–J.E. Cook ©2017
With me, you were often a different person…
Curled inside the new
quilt your mother made us
Feeling the warmth, it provides me
I love that feeling of the cool denim hugging
My naked body,
The blue lining keeping in the inner heat,
Our wedding anniversary of one year has
Arrived and gone,
You have been away for a while on business
In New Orleans,
I missed you so much,
But your phone calls kept me grounded
I shiver and pick at a loose thread hanging
From the quilt’s corner.
You join me under it and many others
Glad to have you back inside with me,
I cuddle close to your muscled chest
Warm suntanned skin, as fresh balsam scents
are mixed into our shared air,
I rise to kiss your sultry closed mouth,
Our lovemaking begins,
A pin in the fabric pricks my tender skin
Along my inner arm,
I’m snagged by it and a trail of red
Smears me as I move with you,
This not being the first time your mother
Forgot a pin or lost one,
Your lips touch the wounded spot
And everything is better and forgotten
As you keep kissing my skin
To my breasts and lingering there
For several moments,
I’m drowning in your passion,
A devotion that I never considered
It was what I once wished for
However, the price became too high
And it had so many strings attached to it,
Ones that were hidden and often dormant
Until they were unleashed by something
Unexpected and unwanted. –J. E. Cook ©2017
Sometimes, it is a book and other times it is a small selection of admired poetry. Here are some of my favorites by poets in time. William Blake is the one I would have to pick if I had to site one favorite poet; however, I have many favorite poets, writers, and authors that I often turn to every morning while I sip my coffee or tea in those early hours as the sun rises and creates an inspiring image on our skies.
The Garden of Love
I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.
And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And Thou shalt not. writ over the door;
So I turn’d to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore.
And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires.
‘Out, Out—’Related Poem Content Details
BY ROBERT FROST
The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behind the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,
As it ran light, or had to bear a load.
And nothing happened: day was all but done.
Call it a day, I wish they might have said
To please the boy by giving him the half hour
That a boy counts so much when saved from work.
His sister stood beside him in her apron
To tell them ‘Supper.’ At the word, the saw,
As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,
Leaped out at the boy’s hand, or seemed to leap—
He must have given the hand. However it was,
Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!
The boy’s first outcry was a rueful laugh,
As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all—
Since he was old enough to know, big boy
Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart—
He saw all spoiled. ‘Don’t let him cut my hand off—
The doctor, when he comes. Don’t let him, sister!’
So. But the hand was gone already.
The doctor put him in the dark of ether.
He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.
And then—the watcher at his pulse took fright.
No one believed. They listened at his heart.
Little—less—nothing!—and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.
Come, you fragile poets filled with the sea’s liquid.
Come and leak your speech upon our parched beaches!
Come and sing with the ocean’s primordial influences.
Come and sanctify our living dictionary.
Come and listen to our seas–rivers–the many lakes.
Come and offer a levy to our tributaries.
Come and accompany us.
Come with your mask of shifting personas falling away.
Come with your torches burning.
Come add your bouquet to the existing aroma.
Come bring your artfulness for our sake of the art.
Come with your lacerations, tender, and red.
Come with your heart brilliant or obscure.
Come with your words for the distinguished dead.
Then go to the notorious graves and remember their souls.
And recite all of your remembrances.
Yes, come and find your passion; your true natural ability:
The marriage of thoughts to be esteemed hydration.
–J. E. Cook ©2016
My thoughts on this novel…
I have read most of White’s published novels, and I think this one is my favorite thus far!
Home means so much to all of us and to each it is a different definition in our minds. White creates a meaning for her characters and shares it with her words. Her sensory descriptions make the images appear to me as read this fabulous book. Heirloom objects mentioned in repetition throughout make it true to her reader.
Vivien is wild at heart and often coming undone with her past chasing her and matching her in thoughts. Dementia is appearing through her mother’s actions and her speech. Mothers and daughters are evolving inside the story. The Walker women share some history and it drives the storyline along with surprises towards the ending.
Inherited ways are thought and discussed. Returning home is the key to facing Vivien’s past. Through Carol Lynne’s dairy, the reader learns the meaning of motherhood and how a women’s destiny can be revealed through those that she gives life. Children often shape women’s lives and what they do in the future. This is what the circle of life is for mothers and it takes place in this story.
The ghost of the dead woman takes form and drives the story into the past and what happened before Vivien was born. Generations are involved and objects give clues to what happened in the past. A ring inspires people to seek its meaning and it brings curiosity along the way to the intended discovery.
Whites handles the shifting timelines so well in all of her novels including this one. The era of the 1920’s has always fascinated me, and I became compelled to learn more about this timeline as I read on.
Keeping a gardening journal and talking about the replanting of a garden that held family memories was a nice touch too. The meaning behind the visiting crows and what a certain tree meant to the main character made me think about how nature often influences our daily thoughts. Mississippi is the location and setting in this riveting well-structured fiction novel. Storms and flooding play into the family history as a ghost visits and the cypress swamp sings in the background. Vivien is on her personal quest and journey as she rebuilds her life and leaves one behind that involves a self-centered ex-husband and a step-daughter that she can’t forget.
Mississippi is the location and setting in this riveting well-structured fiction novel. Storms and flooding play into the family history as a ghost visits and the cypress swampland sings in the background. Vivien is on her personal quest and challenging journey as she rebuilds her life and leaves one situation behind that involves a self-centered ex-husband and a step-daughter that she can’t forget. A step-daughter that becomes her focal point towards the end of the book. Chloe has made a lot of inroads and personal connections by visiting Vivien after she returns home. She becomes unforgettable even after she is retrieved by her father.
A Poem by Josie E. Cook M. A.
” A prose poem of love…realization. ”
A Girl named Rose
The young woman called Rose
misses the crisp autumn in her hometown,
With many amazing sunsets against the forest trees,
She often sat on the top of her building
Watching those same trees with her early morning coffee,
This October is bringing out the Halloween sprites, ghosts,
And a variety of candy in the local stores,
She has visited the Nevada desert several times
In her travels,
Watching the peculiar animals living there,
Noting the absence of trees,
Her campsite always smelling of simmering beans
and dying wood,
Her merry band of waifs and adventure seekers
Filling the circle around the warming flames
As they talked about their dreams and lost hope.
Billy, her steady travel partner,
The creative one, so imaginative and funny,
Keeping her going and sometimes grounded too
Long in the same spot,
They were high most of the time when they could
Afford to buy or someone was sharing it,
One morning, Rose found Billy’s tattered sleeping bag
She started dreaming of visiting Mississippi,
As she watched another sunrise
Alone and feeling lost,
Sometimes she thinks she smells bacon
Frying in the morning, before she rises,
But it is only the smell of beans lingering
Rose desires to taste her mom’s
Her group leader decides to take
Them to Colorado instead,
Some weary participants
depart for San Francisco leaving
Early before Rose is packed up for departure,
So early, they can see the fog in the distance
Before the sun burns it off,
Her memories come back like a flowing
Rose wants to see her home place soon,
Where the KKK had a history and civil rights
Brought so much drama,
She buys a bus ticket with her last coins
and few dollar bills, hide in her pack’s lining.
As Rose sits down in the back of the crowded bus,
She sees two pregnant girls sharing a bag
Of powdered doughnuts and giggling,
Her stomach growls loudly and she coughs,
They turn to stare her way,
Rose turns to the window and watches
Half-naked children play in a big mud puddle
Outside a rundown apartment building,
She never dreamed of having babies or a family,
Her mom passed on her dreams to Rose
As she rocked her in the mornings.
Back in her old town,
Rose seeks her own room,
A room she knows her aunt
Has waiting for her return,
She thinks about how her only aunt
Brought her soup in bed and checked her forehead
When she was too ill to attend school,
Some prissy lady passes Rose on the sidewalk
And Rose does not miss the look in her eyes
As she goes by,
So, condemning and hateful,
Rose wonders if she smells bad or if it is her
Ratty hair and soiled clothing that brings this on,
She has bathed in gas station restrooms and begged
For rides on this trip to reach home,
Rose reaches her favorite tree before her home,
Inside a park near it,
She stops to visit and sits at the base of it,
Enjoys the shade it brings and gentle breeze
Coming from the moving river,
Her mind empties and she closes her eyes,
Rose is weary and frightened at the same time,
She remembers overhearing grown ups
Talk at the kitchen table about the floods
Of the 1920’s,
Babies crying in the background,
Rose thinks about mothers and daughters,
Their similar ways and mannerisms,
She remembers that she hasn’t visited
New Orleans yet,
The river was always a boundary for her own
One created by a man in her life,
A river can sweep up everything in its path
Like a man,
Your destiny becomes someone else’s
Leaving behind your dreams,
Decisions made by someone else
Crushed options and plans abandoned
As the path changes,
Rose wants the bad involvements to go away,
Her destiny feels not as hers,
She falls to sleep recalling
Her own plans,
She wants to figure it all out on her own,
A smile touches her sleeping features
As a shadow moves over her form.
A familiar young man gently picks her up
And he gathers her close,
Carrying a sleeping and exhausted Rose
To her home.
She wakes up in her room
Surrounded by her aunt and her family,
And it all comes back to her,
As Emily, her younger sister pats her hand
And starts introducing her to
The strong man that delivered her to them
A man, from her past, her first love,
And her destiny.
Rose has been dreaming of this day,
But she never believed it would be true
In real life,
Tears fill her big green eyes,
And she sits up to hug him to her,
He whispers in her ear,
“What took you so long?”
She says, “I wanted to explore the world
Around me, before I landed.”
“You were always so much like a Monarch
Butterfly seeking its destiny.”
He tells Rose this, as he kisses her cheek
And considers her wet eyes.
–J. E. Cook ©2017