Letter to a woman as she ages

When you were 44, you fell in love with the young woman you had been. The one that used to embarrass you with her earnestness, her certainty. Do you still remember the day that you woke on the beach in Kaneohe with your head in the lap of another girl, and her tears falling on your face? Her tears woke you. The sun had dragged the top of its head over the horizon, and this girl would be leaving for college in two weeks. And while you were still working out what the tears meant, she dipped her face to yours and kissed you. Her face bathed by the sea and the sunrise and her tears. You were so in love that it was like remaining asleep. The girl bent over you. The ruin of your final years in high school, bereft of this girl, yet to come.

Only the kiss still matters. And the light as it exposed you.

For a time, you worried that you looked too hard for meaning. You worried about snowstorms, and fires, and cruelty. You worried about thick-necked dogs that charged from unlatched gates at your Jack Russell. You worried about your son’s heart. About his joy. Where was it? Where was his joy? You bought yourself so much trouble. Do you remember?

How you stood in a pasture in Ireland, in the dark, and let the woman tackle you. Let the muck swallow the two of you whole.

Is it odd, do you think, how much of our memories wear down to pure affection?

I have been married for eight years, and I cannot wait, every day, to speak to her. What will you remember best of this time?

The child in his trucker hats and sunglasses. The way he climbs from the car, shoulders his impossible backpack, and says, “Have a good day, loser.”

That year your wife began to buy dresses with silly animals on them. Unicorns and preening birds. Her hair bound with wooden sticks. Her vials of perfume scattered around the house like some disorganized apothecary where the sandalwood and the rose create a heady magic.

Do you remember how much joy a bowl of blueberries brought you?

When you were young, you kept a tally of everything. You tracked meaning. I love that about you now. How the deer would stand near the road, and watch you pass with their great and curious eyes. How you spoke to them, and waved. How the dogs hurry to you, and set their faces on your leg when you cry. You are loved so well and so thoroughly. You no longer wonder if you deserve it.

The wildness in you has become more fierce and more quiet.

You would never have believed, that morning on the beach, how the joy would ring from you. How much pleasure you would find looking back at your heartbreak most of all. Those times when you did not yet believe that pain would help you mark the past. That you would love the girl that could cry so hard when love was just beginning.

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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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