Title: The Way to Remember
Author: Martha Reynolds
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Coming of Age
Set in New England at the time of the American Bicentennial, The Way to Remember is the poignant story of a displaced young woman struggling to figure out who she is within the context of her hometown and the carefully masked dysfunction of her family. "Everything can be fixed by writing a check." Words to live by for Robin Fortune's wealthy father, until he can't buy her way back into college after she's expelled for dealing pot. Now he chooses not to speak to her anymore, but that's just one of the out-of-whack situations Robin's facing. At nineteen, she feels rudderless, working in a diner by day and sleeping with a buddy from high school by night - all so strange for her because she was always the one with the plan. While her college friends plotted how to ensnare husbands, she plotted a novel, which she scratched out into a series of spiral-bound notebooks she hides in the closet. But now, there's nothing. No vision, no future, no point. In fact, the only thing she feels she has to look forward to is that her favorite author, Maryana Capture, is paying a visit to the local Thousand Words bookstore. Robin surmises that if she can convince Maryana to help her get her novel published, she'll finally get herself back on track. Except that life never takes a straight path in this intensely satisfying coming-of-age novel.
My father stopped speaking to me the day I was expelled from college, and a few weeks before he paid my fine to the court. That was a month ago. One day after my appearance in front of the judge, I moved into my apartment, in a house he owns. I pay rent to the property management company he also owns. So I’m not really independent. Not yet, anyway.
I flip my calendar to July before June even ends. I can’t wait to circle three dates with my red Magic Marker. On the Fourth of July there’ll be a giant bicentennial parade in town and fireworks over the harbor. Plus, I don’t have to work. One red circle. Three days later, my twentieth birthday. Probably no family celebration this year, though. Another red circle. Used to be, you couldn’t drink until you turned twenty-one, but they changed that law when I was seventeen. The year before that, they changed the law so I could vote when I turned eighteen. Turning twenty? No big deal.
I draw two red circles around Friday the twenty-third, because that’s the day Maryana Capture will make an appearance at the Thousand Words bookstore. She’s my absolute favorite author of all time. I’ve read all of her books and can’t believe she’s going to make a stop here. Well, one town over. Her newest book came out a couple of years ago, and I read it right away. I guess she’s been traveling all around the country and will finally end up here.
Today’s my day off, so I take the bus to Westham and walk to the bookstore. It’s across the street from the new mall, in a low brick building that used to be a dance studio. Since I come here almost every Tuesday, I know Dorothy, who owns the store.
“I can’t wait to see Maryana Capture,” I say. Dorothy’s eyes light up like fireworks at the mention of her name. Obviously, it’s a big deal getting a famous author to appear at her little bookstore.
“Oh, so are we! Isn’t it exciting!” Dorothy is exactly the kind of woman you’d imagine running an eclectic bookstore like the Thousand Words. She wears her long gray hair in a single braid down her back, and sports a necklace made of feathers and beads. When she steps out from behind the counter, I notice an ankle adornment, some kind of bracelet, made of copper wires and more beads. Her skirt is long and wrinkled, but I don’t think she cares. She shows me where the event will take place, in a cleared area off to the side. “This is where we have our book club meetings on Wednesday nights, Robin, if you’re interested in joining us.”
“I wish I could, but it’s too late for me. I start work at six o’clock in the morning.”
“Oh! That is early.” She smiles sympathetically, as if I think waking up at five o’clock is horrible. I don’t mind.
“Dorothy, it says on the poster that attendance is limited to fifty fans? Please tell me you don’t have fifty people signed up yet. Please.” I lean forward on the counter, my legs suddenly unsteady.
She chortles, and a drop of spit shines in the corner of her mouth. The skin on her neck is wrinkled and wobbles like that thing on a turkey. I wonder how old she is.
“Oh, don’t worry about that.” Her voice drops to a whisper. “They say that to make you think you’d better sign up quick. See? It worked.” She grins. “If more than fifty people show up, they’ll be thrilled.” She reaches under the counter and pulls out a red vinyl binder. There’s an index card taped to the front, and the word “CAPTURE” written in black Magic Marker. “Here, I’m making a list. Her publicist suggested it.” She rolls her eyes behind round wire-rimmed eyeglasses. “Let me see, Robin. Look, you’ll be number two.” She laughs as she writes my name in perfect script. Then she swivels the binder around so I can see. Yes, there’s my name on line number two. Only one name is above mine: Carole Keller. I know Mrs. Keller. Her daughter Miranda was a year behind me in high school.
“So there are only two of us signed up for the event?” I’m surprised. After all, it’s Maryana Capture, best-selling author. We don’t get many famous people around here.
Dorothy shrugs. “There’ll be plenty more. No one thinks they have to sign up to attend a book signing. You’re one of the few who read that line on the poster, dear.”
What makes your featured book a must-read?
Every young adult has dreams, but many times, those dreams are put on hold when life demands responsibility. With the character of Robin Fortune, her own actions have forced her to put her dreams aside. But she hasn’t given up, and despite a fractured family relationship, she is determined to pursue her dream of writing a novel.
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Martha Reynolds was born and raised in Rhode Island, and spent a year of college in Switzerland, the memories of which inspired her debut novel, Chocolate for Breakfast, and its sequels, Chocolate Fondue and Bittersweet Chocolate. She is the author of nine novels, including the Amazon #1 bestsellers Chocolate for Breakfast and Bits of Broken Glass. Her novel Villa del Sol was awarded the 2018 Book Prize in Literary Fiction by the Independent Publishers of New England. Her writing has appeared in Magnificat magazine and her very short poem was read by journalist Connie Schultz during NPR's Tell Me More poetry challenge.
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