She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Dear Carolina, and reported the following:
I was a little nervous about this “Page 69” test. It’s a lot of pressure, isn’t it? I, obviously, didn’t know what page 69 of Dear Carolina held off the top of my head, so I worried that page 69 wouldn’t be a good page or that it wouldn’t be representative of the rest of the book. So, imagine my relief, when I found that page 69 is sort of a microcosm of the rest of the novel!Visit Kristy Woodson Harvey's website.
When page 69 opens, Jodi, the birth mother in the story, is fighting her very hardest not to start drinking again, which is one of her main struggles in Dear Carolina. She goes to her cousin Graham and his wife Khaki’s house, where Khaki immediately takes baby Carolina. Jodi says, Khaki “winked at me and patted my back real sweet like. She didn’t have to say nothing at all for me to know that she knew right where I was. Not long ago, she’d been knowing that same tired that brings you to your knees and frustration over not being able to do nothing to stop the cryin’ and being so scared you like to faint from remembering that this little baby—all she’s got in the whole wide world is you. But she didn’t know near nothing ’bout addiction. And that was the difference.”
That paragraph, I’d dare to say, is the crux of the story. Khaki and Jodi, despite their clear differences in socioeconomic background, education, upbringing… They understand each other in a very poignant way that goes even deeper than the bond of the shared understanding of motherhood.
And, despite her remembering of the difficulties new motherhood can bring, Khaki longs for another child anyway. But, as Jodi says, the thing that separates them, the thing that makes them different is that, when Khaki is feeling down and upset and exhausted, she turns to her husband Graham. And Jodi turns to alcohol.
As Jodi sits in her cousin’s kitchen, in the home that she compares to “a summer day at the beach,” she realizes: “I couldn’t think straight I were so busy looking around figuring on where they keep the booze. I’d like to tell you I wouldn’t never steal from somebody I love. But I wrote more than a few ‘sorry’ letters to people I loved during them twelve steps.”
Jodi feels about as low as she ever has on page 69. She is scared and exhausted and depleted and she has nowhere to turn. On the one hand, she is excited to tell Graham about the new job that she has been offered, but, on the other, she is racked with worry because she has no idea how she can take the job, pay for childcare and possibly make ends meet.
In his strong, Southern, cowboy kind of way, Graham, as always, makes Jodi feel better with one sentence, with the last line of page 69 that, again, is one of the most important messages of the entirety of Dear Carolina: “You don’t need to give up, and you aren’t all alone.”
That is, to me, the most important theme in Dear Carolina. And, happily, page 69 embodies it quite well!
My Book, The Movie: Dear Carolina.
Writers Read: Kristy Woodson Harvey.