Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Queen of Everything

Caletti, Deb. 2002. The Queen of Everything.

Deb Caletti. I personally think she has to be wise and observant on top of being ultra-talented. There is just something about the way she writes, something about her observations, that captures life so fully yet beautifully. Even when capturing the ugliness of life, she gives a turn of phrase so beautiful even if it is beautiful in that aching kind of way that it just resonates.

People ask me all the time what having Vince MacKenzie for a father was like. What they mean is: Was he always crazy? Did he walk around the kitchen with an ice pick in the pocket of his flannel bathrobe every morning as he poured himself a cup of coffee?
Some ask flat out, as if it's their right to know. Others circle it, talk about the weather first, thinking they're beings so sneaky when really they're as obvious as a dog circlking a tree.
When they ask, I always say the same thing. I say, "He was an optometrist for God's sake. You know, the guy who sits you in the big chair and says, 'Better here, or here?' The ones with the little pocket-size flashlights?'" And that's all I say. I try to keep it all in the tone of the voice. I don't even add a, If you must know, you insensitive jackass. Well I did say that once. I don't count it though, because it was to an old man who probably had bad hearing.
What I won't do is tell anyone what he was really like. (1)

Meet Jordan MacKenzie. Her father has committed a crime--a crime of passion. This is her story. Her unveiling of what happened that fateful summer that turned her world topsy-turvy. It's not a melodramatic story, more straightforward and down-to-earth than that.

Besides, that's not what people want to hear anyway--that my father was just a normal guy whom I loved, love, with all my heart. It makes them nervous. Because if he was normal, if he wore Old Spice and liked nacho cheese Doritos, then why not their own fathers? Or themselves? Deep Inner Evil--we like that. It's easier to accept than what Big Mama says, which is that wanting things for the wrong reasons can turn anyone's life into a marshmallow on a stick over a hot fire: impossibly messy and eventually consumed, one way or another. People want to think that I lay in bed awake at night, my heart pounding in fear of him. They don't want to know that I slept just fine, dreaming I'd forgotten my locker combination just like them.
Or that I went to live with Dad because he was the regular one; that it was my mom who I was convinced was nuts. (3)

I love her narrative. I love her voice. How real she seems. She's not a saint. She doesn't sugarcoat her mistakes--or her father's mistakes--she calls it as she sees it. While the book is her sharing about her relationship with her father--the effect his choices have had on her life--it is her story as well. About her relationships. With her mother, with her grandparents, with Big Mama, with her best friend, Melissa, and her best friend's brother, Jackson, and with her bad-boy semi-boyfriend, Kale.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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Sherry said...

I've missed you at the Saturday Review of Books lately. I always enjoy your book reviews---so candid and descriptive.

Kathryn Fitzmaurice said...

Great Review, Becky. I'd like to read this one!

Debi said...

Straight to wish list for this one!

Becky said...

Sherry, I've missed participating. I make a mental note of it every Saturday and then before I know it, the day is gone. This past week it was the thunder storms that kept me from doing anything on the computer for most of the weekend. But I hope to be back soon. Thanks for visiting.

Kathryn, It was a great book. I was surprised in how very much I loved it.

Debi, it's good. I think you'll enjoy!!!

Zibilee said...

I really like the voice of the author in the passages you excerpted. I hadn't yet heard of this book, but I will be looking for it now.