Injurious middle age

In February, I tore the attachment between my hamstring and calf.

In April, the outer toes on my left foot started to go numb on long walks. The nerve was compromised.

In June, I aggravated the tendons in my foot and was sent, at last, to physical therapy.

Physical therapy taught me that I have terrible balance.

My strengthening exercises involve standing on my injured foot and shifting my weight here and there.

Slow down. Balance.

Balance. Slow down.

I’m not fond of either thing, frankly.

And so, I biked all over the damn place, and gave up sugar and white flour. I made myself tremendous salads, and roasted vegetables, and learned to love plain yogurt. I went to bed hungry.

If you are going to rebuild your self, why not start with a virtual stranger? An injured woman who doesn’t eat pie. A woman suddenly incapable of walking her usual three hours a day.

And what if you discover that cutting out sugar makes her less moody? That going to bed hungry means she sleeps more soundly. That here, at 43, biking all over the damn place is a flashback to life at 9 when her whole world was a dirt bike and adventure.

What if this terrible year of limping and pain has actually brought me a pregnant joy?

I count out my reps in 30-second intervals. I stretch and ice and stretch and ice and find myself counting how long I brush my teeth, and how many steps to the elevator.

I have learned to cradle my feet and love them. To slather them with CBD ointment. To baby them with German shoes.

I practice standing straighter. Walking heel to toe without turning my foot.

I practice being a flamingo.

I practice hopping my bike off the curb on the downhills.

Fast! Super FAST!

What if this year has taught me how much better I am at love? At the quiet steadiness of it. The work. How I exercise love. Stretch its muscles and strengthen its heart.

I have become my own project. A little more fit. A little more devoted. Better at curling and uncurling my toes. Better at squaring my hips. Better at seeing how slowly we unfold ourselves like sleepy trees opening wider and wider to the rain.

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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