From page 69:Visit Polly Dugan's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.I loved discovering all the connections to the rest of the novel on this page. The book is narrated in five different points of view, and this is a portion of a chapter told by Christopher, the fifteen-year old son of Leo McGeary, a firefighter who dies in a skiing accident. Twelve years earlier Leo had asked his best friend, Garrett, to promise to marry his wife, Audrey, in the event of his death.Christopher
It was enough to make you say, Fuck the helmet—if I’m going to die if I crash anyway, right? But we’d always had to wear them, on our bikes, scooters, and skateboards too. He taught us all to ski and we were all pretty good, although Brian was the best.
He made us do fire drills too, as soon as Andrew was good at walking. The smoke detector goes off and what do you do? Dad said. You get low and you stay low and you get out of the house. But if the bedroom door is closed, feel it, and if it’s hot, or you can see that the stairs are blocked and you can’t get out, close your door, get low, shelter in place and wait until the firefighters or mom and I come get you. We’ll get you out.
He tried to make the drills not like a game exactly—he wanted us to take them seriously—but he expected us to do the best we could, like when we learned anything new. Because of his work schedule, he’d told us he might not be home if a fire happened, or he might not be able to get to us, so we had to know what to do and be able to do it ourselves without panicking. Our neighbor’s porch was our meeting place. My dad would time us, and we did the drills until he was happy that our time was fast enough. I was six and Andrew was only two when we first did them, and Andrew would laugh through the whole thing, like it was the best game ever, which maybe it was to him, running as fast as he could on his short little legs to the Thompsons’ porch, but Brian, who was four, cried every time. I knew just talking about the drills worried Brian, even before we did the first one. The idea of a fire was terrifying. None of us wanted to think about it happening, but Brian was the most nervous of all of us. That’s just how he was.
So after we went to the Dougy Center for our one time and after everyone at school stopped acting so weird around me, all I could think about was Mrs. Maguire—Colleen Maguire—my friend Ben’s mom. But I couldn’t talk to anyone about that. Ben and I had always been okay friends, but when I’d started hanging out with him more, it wasn’t because of him.
In these four paragraphs Chris alludes to multiple threads that reference plot and subplot. To name a few: he ruminates about the tragically ironic details of his father’s death; that despite the fact that his father was wearing a helmet—a habit Leo has always insisted upon for the safety of his three sons—the helmet didn’t save his life. Chris’s recollection about the fire drills Leo had his sons do from a very young age hints at Leo’s personality trait of wanting plans and precautions firmly in place in the event of the unexpected and unforeseen. Finally, Christopher’s obsession with his friend’s mother and how he acts on that obsession is a subplot that provides the foundation for Audrey’s discovery of the promise Leo extracted from Garrett.
Since I’m one hundred percent partial, I hope the treasures of unassuming Page 69 will pique readers’ interests and make them hurry to get their hands on the book so they can find out the rest of the story.
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