Monday, April 30, 2007

Notes on a Near-Life Experience

Birdsall, Olivia. 2007. Notes on a Near-Life Experience.

I want to know how adults decide when the truth is necessary and when it isn't, and if there's some kind of an age requirement for it. Like, does getting a driver's license or the right to vote also mean it's time for you to know why your aunt Lucinda was in that hospital for two months when you were eight, or what really happened to your dog when it mysteriously vanished three weeks after its fourteenth birthday? The strange thing is that the truth has this way of seeping through, leaking out, even when you build walls and dams and work as hard as you can to contain it. It's like even when no one tells you what the truth is, somehow, eventually you just feel it. Even if you don't want to. (37)

Mia is fifteen-going-on-sixteen when her father leaves her mother, and her family begins to change practically overnight. No more bologna sandwiches for lunch. No more family time at the dinner table. No more family rounds of Jeopardy. Allen, her older brother, and Keatie, her younger sister, each react differently. Allen turns to drinking, partying, and skipping school. Keatie reacts by living in denial. Pretending that none of this is real. That this isn't her family. That this new reality is not permanent. And Mia? She responds by isolating herself. She's not in denial exactly. She knows her parents won't be getting back together--her dad's new girlfriend is proof of that--but she doesn't want this new reality to be spoken. To be shared. So she starts keeping one thing after another from her best friend, Haley. With so many things going wrong, it's good for one thing to be going right. In the midst of the fallout, it seems her brother's best friend, Julian, has finally, finally noticed that she existed as more than a pesky little sister. Could this be true? Could her life-long crush finally be hers?

Notes on a Near-Life Experience presents a family in crisis. Each have troubles of their own. Each needs a little guidance in how to communicate with the others in a healthy way. It is a funny, honest look at families.


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