Recovery

Even eating a brownie, across the table from me, he’s not OK.

“Do you want to tell me?” I ask.

“I can’t say,” he says.

“How’s the brownie?”

“I like it,” he says.

“Do you know about reputation?”

He shakes his head. “What is it?”

“It’s this story that some people believe about you. Like in Harry Potter when some people believe that he wants to be a hero so badly that he makes up Voldemort returning and killing Cedric Diggory.”

“So it’s a lie.”

“Sometimes. Or half truths. Harry is a hero, but he’d rather just be a regular kid, like Ron. He’d rather have parents and play quidditch and be ordinary. He doesn’t want some lunatic trying to kill him.”

“I see.”

“Maybe you’ve heard family doesn’t matter to me. Maybe you worry that you can do something, that you can be unkind, and I’ll be angry and never want to see you again. Maybe you worry that something will happen and I won’t love you anymore.”

He is crying now. The tears down his face and into his brownie. What if we lose our mothers? If there is a monster in the dark, that is what it eats, it eats our mothers.

“That cannot happen,” I tell him. “Who do I love more than planets?”

He points to his chest, and keeps crying.

“Who do I love above all things?”

“Me.” His voice breaks on the small word.

“You’re having a hard time.”

“Yes,” he says, “I am.”

“I love you more than pie. More than chocolate with walnuts and caramel. More than water.”

“More than peanuts.”

“Peanuts are gross. I don’t want to talk about peanuts.”

“You love me more than them. Say that.”

“I love you more than peanuts. I love everything more than peanuts.”

“Not mites.”

“Or squirrels. No, you’re right. But I love you a lot more than peanuts.”

“I’m having a hard time,” he says.

“It’s OK to have a hard time. It’s OK to cry and be sad. Crying is just what happens sometimes.”

“I love you more than Lady Gaga,” he says.

“Yeah. Yeah, totally.”

“I love you more than you love me.”

“Not a chance, punk.”

He has the same worries I have, which is probably why I recognize them. Family. You can lose your family. You really can. Out of meanness and disease and accident. From habit. From neglect. You can lose them while you’re hanging on. You can lose them while you’re letting go. There is that hungry monster in the dark. Waiting until you’re not looking. Until you’re tired. Until you’re certain that you’ve never been quite this happy before.

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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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