So, I've written a novel--a stumbling piece of women's fiction being released April 15th through Abingdon Press--and it's here, now friends, available for pre-order. And I'm shaking in my boots. I want you to like it, of course, but more than that--I want you to like her. The woman I wrote about, Clara, because, well, she's sort-of me. A daughter to a reverend, and she rebelled when she was young--ran away from home to serve as a nurse in World War II--and the story opens with her grown, in her sixties and taking a road trip with her family, looking back across the years like a lighthouse reflecting across water. This, from Chapter 1 of A Promise in Pieces:
Noah looked like his father, and she hadn't seen it before. But here in the backseat of a van strewn with skateboarding magazines and CDs, there was time enough to see it in the young man whose long legs stretched from the seat. To see the freckles dusting her grandson’s cheeks, the way his hair poked like a hayfield and his eyes grabbed at everything.
Up front, Oliver asked Shane to adjust the radio, the static reminding Clara of the white noise she used to make with a vacuum or a fan to calm her newborns. The first one being Shane, her eldest, the one in the passenger seat turning now to laugh at his father, who wrinkled his long nose as Shane tried to find a classical station. Then, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, and Clara could see Oliver smiling, pleased, and she remembered the way he’d looked over at her in church so long ago with the same expression: as though he’d finally found what he’d been looking for.
Noah was playing a game on one of those Nintendo machines. He noticed her watching him, said, “Do you want to give it a try, Grandma?” He looked so eager. Gone were the days of Hardy Boys and marbles.
“Sure!” Clara said, mustering enthusiasm as she took the tiny gadget. Then she saw what he was playing. Some kind of shooting game with uniformed men and guns and she nearly dropped it. “I’m sorry, it’s too complicated for an old woman like me,” she said, handing it back and turning to stare out the window, at Maryland passing by, wondering what a kid in high-school could know about war.
They were taking the George Washington Memorial Parkway, one of Clara’s favorite drives, which would carry them from her home-state into Mount Vernon, Virginia. They were just passing through Glen Echo, north of Washington, DC. And Clara remembered the story her Daddy had told her on one of their summer holidays about the woman who’d spent the last 15 years of her life here. Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, who tirelessly provided aid to wounded troops during the Civil War, and she had dedicated her life to serving those in need, Daddy said.
That was when Clara—only eight years old at the time—had decided she would do the same. After all, this woman shared her name.
“Something wrong, Grandma?” Noah said, then. Shane turned in the front seat. His green eyes met hers, and it seemed only yesterday she had brought him home wrapped in that quilt—the one cleaned, pressed, and folded, sitting in the trunk of their Caravan.
Shane’s eyebrows rose and Clara shrugged, feeling cold in her white cardigan even though it was late May. It had been 50 years. “Fifty years,” she said, more to herself than anything, and the van was quiet. She’d had these moments before, many of them. Moments that landed her in the past, amongst broken and dead bodies, for there hadn't been enough beds in Normandy.
Oliver peered at her now, too, in the rear-view, through his glasses, and she should give his hair a trim, she thought. It sprouted silver around his ears, and when had her soldier-husband aged? At what point between them marrying and adopting Shane and giving birth to two others had his hair turned gray?
Noah was tucking the game away, now, saying, “I don’t need to play this right now. What are you thinking about, Grandma?”
And she wiped at her eyes, moist, and cleared her throat and told herself to smarten up. It was 23 hours to New Orleans, where they planned to visit the National World War II Museum, and she should make the most of the time she had with this boy who knew nothing of the miracle of the quilt in the trunk. Who knew nothing of loss, and this was good. But there is a need for history to plant itself in the hearts of its children. And so she began.
I am so excited to share Clara's journey with you -- she is a woman who struggles relentlessly to believe, who extends grace to everyone but herself, who makes a promise to a dying soldier to give a letter to his wife. She discovers love in the folds of a squirming baby whom she adopts, in the limp of a man who carves her a wooden jewelery box, and in the forgiveness of a friend whose husband she was unable to keep alive. A Promise in Pieces is part of Abingdon Fiction's Quilts of Love series, and I will be donating a percentage of all of the profits made from pre-orders to World Help's Rescue Homes project, HERE.
ALSO, if you tweet or FB about your pre-order, using the hash-tag #PromiseInPieces, you will receive another Quilts book free of charge with your order! Here's a tweet for you to use if you want to: I just pre-ordered @emily_wierenga's debut novel #PromiseInPieces!
Available for Pre-Order HERE:
((Thank you)) For believing in me and loving me. To God be the glory. All my heart, e.
Emily Wierenga is wife to a math-teacher husband; mother and foster mother to four boys; an artist, columnist and the author of Chasing Silhouettes: How to help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder, Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After Pregnancy and A Promise in Pieces (Spring 2014). For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.