Punch and Judy

I have been trying to figure out a way to tell him that your compassion can be used against you. That sometimes we go into our early relationships thinking, I love you, and I see the best in you, and I know you’re struggling. I can help. And later it will seem painfully Luke Skywalker: I feel the good in you. But we don’t know that yet. Right now we see someone suffering, and that person tells us we can help, and we genuinely want to, and we believe they want us to. We believe. And we know we are difficult, flawed, less, and we know that we want to be better. We try to be better. We suppose this is true of everyone.

Our best intentions will overlook the fact that she deletes the names of every girl on our contact list. That she throws us out weekends. That she demands we work, and demands we stay home and care for her, and demands that we be different. Always different. Sometimes she’s kind. Sometimes she cries and is sorry. We let the kindness outweigh the rest of it. She never means to hurt us. And so we stay and struggle because we don’t want to be those people who bail. Those people who say, This is too hard.

I have heard myself rationalize even the punches. I have heard too many of us rationalize the punches. It was just once. It was just the one time. She was drunk. She was high. I woke her from a bad dream. Nothing like that ever happened again. She only broke stuff, she never actually hit me. She followed me from room to room screaming, but when she pushed me it wasn’t that hard.

We know we are not perfect, and we love them anyway.

But they do not love us like we love them. They love meanly. They love roughly. They love and belittle. They love and hit. They love and control. Their love is a sharp and broken thing. And it is not our responsibility to carry it. To fix it. To nurture and accept it. My love won’t cut you. My love will never cut you. I want to explain but I don’t understand it myself. Why I stayed. Why I excused and forgave. Why I let them. I loved them more than I loved myself. I thought that was why we were here. My compassion bled inside me.

It’s your heart you’re eating. I want to tell him. I want to spare him. I want. I want.

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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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