If you follow me on Facebook, you already know that I had a pretty amazing weekend. Sorry if this is redundant, but I’m so excited I just can’t help revisiting my fun news again. And again. Don’t worry, after today’s post I’ll restrain myself from bothering you with all the gory details… But I can’t promise that I won’t fall asleep reliving the joy for many, many nights to come. Yes, I know I am a complete and utter nerd. I’m fine with that.
Anyway, let’s rewind the clock a few days. Friday night I came home from the chaos of the school soup supper fundraiser (I was single momming it with three boys) and stole a moment to myself in the little girls’ room (don’t judge me — a couple minutes in the bathroom is the only alone time I get most days!). I did what I usually do in the bathroom… Leaned up against the counter and flipped through emails on my phone while my kids pounded mercilessly at the door. (“Mommy’s going potty! I’ll be out in a minute!”) This entire routine usually takes two minutes. Three if I’m lucky. But on Friday night I stumbled across an email from Facebook saying that my agent had tagged me in a post.
Not just any post. The post. The much-anticipated-dreaded-feared and longed for post that linked me up to the Publishers Weekly review of Far From Here. Let me just back up a minute and explain that no matter how much authors claim to not care about our reviews, we care. A lot. At least I do. After all, I don’t write in a vacuum, I write for an audience and if that audience doesn’t like my work, I’ve missed my mark a bit, haven’t I? Of course, we could debate for hours whether art is inherently beautiful in and of itself, and argue the merits of writing the stories of our hearts without getting bogged down in worrying whether or not our readers will enjoy it. But I won’t bore you with all that philosophizing except to say that I do read some of my reviews and I try to take them to heart. Honestly, as much as the one-star reviews sting (okay, cut like a knife and rip me to pieces), I can say that I have learned more from a couple of well articulated bad reviews than most of the rave ones. Thoughtful bad reviews help me to see weaknesses in my writing… But I won’t lie. I much prefer thoughtful good reviews. They are a balm to my soul.
When I saw that Publishers Weekly link as I hid rather childishly in my own bathroom, I almost didn’t want to click on it. Trade reviews are a big deal — they’re a way for the publishing community to wade through the hundreds of thousands of books released every year. And they can be pretty scathing. But I took a deep breath, followed the link, and saw…
A red star. A darling little cheerful momentous red star. According to PW, “a starred review indicates a book of outstanding quality.” I blinked, blinked again, and then erupted from the bathroom screaming. After my boys realized this was happy screaming and mommy hadn’t had a complete mental break in the bathroom, we sashayed to the kitchen and danced around the hardwood floor whooping at the top of our lungs. Even the baby got in on the fun and started smacking me in the head (apparently to try and keep some sort of time in the midst of our rhythmless jig). At some point my eight-year-old caught me around the waist and said, “Mom, why are we cheering?” I laughed. “Because mommy got a really good review!” He hugged me tight. “What did it say?” To which I responded: “I have no idea.” I hadn’t bothered to read the actual review.
Okay, enough of my silly narrative. Suffice it to say the review is gorgeous and I am thrilled and humbled and still kind of in shock. I’m going to let you in on a little secret here… When an author births a book baby and sends it out into the world, she desperately hopes with every agonizing breath that people will love her book baby. That readers will treat her book baby with respect and linger over sentences and whole passages that touch their hearts. That when the final page has been turned the reader will walk away from her sweet book baby somehow, in some small way, changed. And to know that even one person picked up book baby and saw her for who she truly was and longed to be is the greatest joy of writing.
Thank you, dear readers, for making my job so joyful.
This gorgeously composed novel is a candid and uncompromising meditation on the marriage of a young pilot and his flight-fearing wife, their personal failings, and finding the grace to move beyond unthinkable tragedy. Baart (Beneath the Night Tree) catalogs ample flashbacks with incisive details to develop Danica (“Dani”) and Etsell Greene’s relationship, making them appear to be the perfect couple: Etsell calls Dani his ground, his center, his home, and she equally worships her “golden boy.” In their tenth year of being together, Etsell decides to pick up flights in Alaska, the “place that had been the object of his longing.” Shortly thereafter, he and his plane disappear into the Alaskan wilderness, and Dani is forced to come to terms with her fears and grief, as well as the reality of her frayed marriage and the fact that her husband may have been lost to her long before he vanished. Surrounded by a delightful mismatch of the important women in her life, Dani must learn how “to survive in a place between,” mired as she is in the unknown: Is her husband dead, or is he simply gone? Baart’s mastery of images makes Dani’s grief, anger, and self-loathing brilliantly palpable. Pulsing with passion and saturated with lush language, Baart’s latest will leave an indelible mark. (Feb.)