Author’s note: In the interest of starting Smokin’ & Cryin’ as close to the inciting incident as possible, I cut a couple of scenes that came beforehand. I still like them and thought it’d be fun to share them anyway. City Dairy is 2 of 2.
All Bev wanted was milk, bread, and Virginia Slims. And Lisa out of her hair. My stepmom’s eyes were puffy and she wore the stubborn scowl that always showed up after a long night of arguing with my dad. She’d wanted Arthur to move back home with us for a while and I was kind of proud of the fight she put up because usually she’d just sigh and give that jerk his way. Continue reading
Author’s note: In the interest of starting Smokin’ & Cryin’as close to the inciting incident as possible, I cut a couple of scenes that came beforehand. I still like them and thought it’d be fun to share them anyway. Arthur Comes Home is 1 of 2.
July 4th. Hairspray. Yellow onions. Burgers and bratwurst smoking on the grill. Arthur sauntered into our sun-scorched backyard, barefoot, wearing cutoffs and a ringer T-shirt. Shrieks and whoops and applause rose from our relatives and neighbors who were thrilled to have him home from the war. I’d wanted to be the first to see him, the first to welcome him home, but the sight of him through the sliding screen door froze me at the kitchen table, knife in midair, the onion I’d been chopping abruptly forgotten. Continue reading
Clive – Belknap Township, Mich. – Friday, June 30, 2006
The happiest man alive. That was me from the snowy day last March when Becca had agreed to marry me, until this very moment in the blazing heat. I should have known something like this would happen. I had my reasons, I swear, that one little word could double me over with the force of a gut punch right there in our backyard garden.
I stumbled backward and stepped on a rotting tomato. Embryonic slime oozed warm between my toes. I scraped my bare foot in the rough crabgrass while she continued kneeling in the dirt. Steady. Stable. Oblivious to the earwig flailing in her water glass. She quit looking at me for a reply and forced her weed digger between twin dandelions. Continue reading
Reece’s folks lived in an aluminum-sided one-story in Hazel Park, which we called Hazeltucky.
Today their house smelled like green apple ReNuzIt, corned beef and cabbage.
“I made it especially for you,” Marjorie LeFanch said. “There’s plenty of veggies.” After four years, she’d finally quit putting meat on my plate and lecturing me about iron. Tonight she’d serve me limp cabbage with overcooked potatoes in meat juice, with a side dish of boiled celery. Like being a vegetarian made me the rabbit in Fatal Attraction. I should have eaten a pretzel. Continue reading
This is a brilliantly crafted book set in the early ’70s about a band and its 16-year-old front-man, Robin Chelsea, and (not a spoiler) his disappearance right before the release of their third album. The story unfolds with detail that is wonderfully imagined (such that I often forgot it is totally fiction) but never bogging down the pace.
Smokin’ and Cryin’ kept me on my toes like a 70s rock band. Every memory, news article, album review and snippet had me wondering what was next. I devoured this novel almost immediately upon opening it up. The twists and turns in this were excellent, and I found myself desperately missing an era I hadn’t even been a part of.
Ms. Ombry does a terrific job of developing the characters and unfolding the twists and turns of their funny/tragic lives. I found the book intriguing and hard to put down! Probably because at its heart the book is about resilience, love, and our common humanity more than rock music.
This book is about Robin Chelsea, a fairly normal teenager who ends up becoming the lead singer of American rock band Smoky Topaz in the 1970s. The language and writing style are also very simple and smooth, which make this book feel young, laidback and fresh.
Ombry conjures (and occasionally skewers) characters with stunning efficiency. Better than just about any writer I’ve read, she knows how to shine a light on most important truth about them, how to bring whole, complex humans to life using short strings of words. She also writes young children better than anyone I’ve ever read. The relationship between the young rock god and his baby half-sister makes me tear up again just thinking about it.
On Facebook, Ms. Ombry revealed she had gotten her first bad review & she shared it. It was sooooo bad, I wanted to understand why. OMG what a gift for Ms. Ombry! She is an amazing author! I was hooked from page one. Obviously the last laugh is with this very talented author!
There’s something a bit familiar about The Odette Brothers. I had fun recognizing some of the real-life elements she modified and incorporated into this novel. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did!
This book was so horribly written, I had to stop after the first 20 pages. She may think she’s Vonnegut, but a child could write better than her. It’s unfortunate that any publishing company would take her seriously and waste our time.
Grace takes sensitive and painful topics and intertwines them with humor. She skillfully develops her characters, and the reader comes to accept (and maybe even like) all of them (even the ones that have terrible flaws.)
Grace has a knack for portraying the music genre and the 70s in a truly engaging manner. I loved everything about this book. She makes the music come alive through the characters and the story. The music is almost another character in the story, and it shines. The characters and their conflicts and quirks make… Read more “Truly Engaging”