Promise the Moon by Elizabeth Arnold
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We're opening the July menu with a trained laboratory chemist. Who better to defend ethanol as an essential food group?
Elizabeth Joy Arnold began writing in her spare time when she realized chemistry wasn't her calling. Now she spends as many as 16 hours a day inside the heads of her characters. Both Promise the Moon and her first novel, Pieces of My Sister's Life, were published by Bantam. Elizabeth lives in New Jersey where she is hard at work (16 hours a day, rumors have it) on her third novel.
It's a well known fact that all chemistry majors build a homemade still during their sophomore year. We expect blueprints from Elizabeth by the end of the day.
What Promise the Moon is all about:
When war and its aftermath take Josh from Natalie and her children, she must find a way to heal her broken family. And so Natalie begins writing letters from Josh that she hides for young Anna and Toby to find—notes from heaven that attempt to explain why he left, to offer comfort and wisdom. But when Anna suddenly reveals that her father has been speaking to her from heaven, divulging stories only Josh could know, Natalie must uncover the secrets of her husband’s past—secrets he hid to protect his family.
An excerpt to whet your appetite:
After stabbing myself yet again with the upholstery needle, I threw it and Anna’s Halloween costume across the arm of the couch. “I give up!” I told Helen. “Why couldn’t they choose to be something that comes pre-packaged for twenty bucks? Whose idea was this, anyway?”
“Um, I guess I have to say it was Madison’s, sorry. She fell in love with penguins after that Happy Feet movie, which she’s seen so many times I’m considering taking out the scissors and causing the DVD irreparable damage.”
I smiled. “It was actually just a rhetorical question. I know it was Madison’s idea, I was trying to make you feel so bad you’d want to take over for me.”
“Don’t blame me. I was trying to convince Madison she wanted to wear a sheet with eyeholes.” Helen stood. “More coffee?”
“Yeah, thanks. And Band Aids, if you have them.”
I sat back on the couch. But it was not one of those couches meant for sitting back on, a Victorian style thing with no padding, so I ended up angled awkwardly against one of those types of pillows shaped like an Italian bread loaf. Helen had inherited most of her furniture from a great-aunt, and the rooms in her house looked like they should be roped off, and contain descriptive plaques.
She returned with two mugs of coffee, a box of Band Aids under one arm. Helen was in her early forties, a tad plump, and each time her husband Jack started a tour of duty she let herself go, gained weight, let her graying roots take over until a month before he was due home, when she stopped eating and dyed her hair back to coppery blonde. He’d been away for eight months now, and Helen looked at least ten years older than she actually was.
I reached for the box and she sat next to me and handed me a mug. “I can’t believe you’re leaving in two days. Madison was almost in tears last night.”
“I know.” I studied my fingers, chose two that seemed the most traumatized, and strapped on Band Aids. “Anna won’t tell me how hard the move is for her, but I know she has to be upset about it too.”
“She’s stoic.” She took a test sip, coughed and said in a choked voice, “Ooh, recommend you let that sit a minute before you try it.”
“What do you mean, stoic?”
“Oh, you know.” She shrugged. “I ask how she’s doing, and she always says she’s fine, never complains.”
“Yeah, she doesn’t complain.”
I thought of how she’d dealt with the depressive episodes her dad had suffered since returning from Iraq. On bad days he wouldn’t leave the bedroom, would lock the door and not let us in. For me, talking to him through the door while knowing that I’d get no answer was too painful, like being hung up on, that feeling of hopelessness and not mattering. But every day after school Anna had sat by his door, sometimes for an hour or more, talking about her day, somehow managing to make herself sound upbeat. “The therapist says she’s repressing her feelings, and the goal of therapy is to lure them back out, or whatever.” I looked down into my mug. “Not that it worked. You should’ve seen our family sessions; all the kids did was shrug.”
Now answer me these questions three (best answers, as judged by Elizabeth, earn an autographed copy of her book):
1) Where would Elizabeth most want to be stabbed with a needle?
2) Besides destroying innocent Warner Brothers DVDs, what else does Elizabeth like to do with her scissors?
3) How many men have promised Elizabeth the moon (and what did she do to warrant those promises)?