Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Silver Sliver

After giving over the past few days to season one episodes of The Good Wife on DVD, watching King of California and Julie & Julia again, and getting excited over the new fall TV season (Starting with Up All Night, which debuted last week after the season finale of America's Got Talent, and extended to the season premiere of Two and a Half Men last night (Ashton Kutcher was pretty good), and the series premiere of 2 Broke Girls (Funny enough that I'll watch it again next week, but am still tentative about it), and there were the new seasons of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune that started last night, and 30 Rock and The Big Bang Theory went into syndication, and I'm still impatiently waiting for the season premieres of The Big Bang Theory (Thursday) and The Good Wife (Sunday)), I continued reading Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen this afternoon, leaping from page 37 to 212. I think I'll hold off on part 2 of my all-time favorite books, because Dad and Meridith aren't getting home until later than usual (Dad has an ROP (Regional Occupation Program) class to cover after work at a high school in the same area from 4 to 7), which means dinner will be later, and I want to finish reading this one because Life Itself by Roger Ebert and The GQ Candidate by Kelli Goff came in the mail today.

I'm not really invested in the story of Julia facing her new husband, Michael, new because his heart stopped while he was at a board meeting at his company, DrinkUp, and he was dead for 4 minutes, 8 seconds, and after recovering, wants to give to various charities all the money he ever earned, starting with $100 million dollars that he announces to reporters that he'll give away. They both come from West Virginia, Michael from a family that ignored him, Julia from a family that seemed happy enough, running a general store, until her father got so deep into gambling that he ruined all their lives and Julia vowed not to live with that fear of not having anything, of worrying about finances every single day, and so when Michael's flavored water company DrinkUp goes public and nets 70 million dollars right away, she has nothing to worry about, and even ignores their drifting apart as their marriage goes on, including the affair Michael had with a public relations manager he hired.

I'm more into Isabelle, Julia's best friend, who reveals to Julia at a bar that she gave up a daughter, Beth, for adoption when she was 18, and always thinks about her, wondering who she is, what she's doing, and she knew she gave her up to a loving husband and wife, but wants to know, more than the cards sent every year inform her. So she writes a letter to Beth, explaining everything, including a note to her adoptive parents to give Beth the letter when they feel it's the right time.

Then Isabelle tells Julia excitedly that Beth called her and wants her to come to Seattle, and while I understand the luxurious life Julia has established with Michael and all the clothes and jewelry and maids and private chefs that come with it, spurred on by her fear of never having anything ever again, I relate more to Isabelle. It's not that Julia is an airhead type; she has a good catering business going that she has a real knack for, but I think it's because Isabelle strikes me as more straightforward. This is what she did in her life, she regrets it, and she wants to make it better. In fact, Isabelle decides to contact Beth because of Michael, and says to Julia:

"When everything happened with Michael, the first person I thought of was Beth. What if I get really sick or die? Or what if she does? What if I miss the chance to tell her I love her because I was too afraid?"

"You could still write the letter," I said after a moment. "It isn't too late. You can tell her you were scared to write before, if you want to. Just tell her the truth. It doesn't have to be perfect."

Isabelle squeezed my hand. "I think I have to."

This is the part that endeared me to Isabelle, because she's so honest about what she needs to do, realizing that there needs to be major changes:

"Anyway, after I visit Beth . . . I don't know, but I feel like something has been missing for a while now. I don't know if I can do this anymore."

"Do what?" I asked, taking out some socks and standing up to toss them back in her drawer.

"This!" Isabelle spread out her arms, like a little kid who was pretending to fly. "My life! I'm thirty-four, and what do I have to show for it? I spend the money my grandfather made--not even the money, I just spend the interest on his money--and I dabble in charity work. I play tennis and go to parties and shop and travel. I'm busy every day of the week and it's not enough. I'm bored, Julia. I'm bored out of my fucking mind, and I have been for a while. I didn't think my life would turn out like this. I don't even know how it happened. I've just been drifting along, and suddenly almost half my life is gone.

"I don't know what I'll do when I get back. Maybe I'll get involved in a charity--really involved; not just show up at a benefit in a pretty dress and write a check--or hell, maybe I'll adopt a child and bring all of this full circle. You've got a job you love, and you've got a good man who adores you. And he does adore you now, Julia, no matter what happened before."

But that's not even why I decided to profile all of this. On page 164, I smiled at finding a rare moment in which the same letters sit side-by-side in two words, and two letters switch places, creating an entirely different word:

"At my core, I was still a girl without money, a person who worried she didn't fit in, someone who walked around with a silver sliver of fear buried deep inside her, like a bit of shrapnel even the most skilled surgeon would never be able to remove."

Silver sliver. What's even more fun is if you dart your eyes between the words really fast, you can see the "i" and the "l" switch places. I love that kind of moment in books.


  1. Hmmm . . . a husband who gambles and money disappears. Been there. Done that. I'm afraid I don't want to read it in a book unless I write the book.


  2. It's part of a chapter on Julia's past, and the emotional impact is vivid. I can understand that.