Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"The Shortest Way Home"

Juliette Fay received a bachelor's degree from Boston College and a master's degree from Harvard University. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and four children. Shelter Me was her first novel, Deep Down True her second.

Fay applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, The Shortest Way Home, and reported the following:
Page 69 is a pivotal moment in The Shortest Way Home. Sean Doran has worked as a nurse in Third World war zones and disaster areas for the last twenty years. He comes home to Massachusetts for what he thinks is a brief stopover. But once there, he finds that things are falling apart with his elderly aunt who raised him and his 11-year-old orphaned nephew, Kevin.

On page 69 Kevin, who is a strangely quiet kid, makes Sean keep a promise to go for a hike with him. It’s the first time Kevin asserts himself, and as a result they begin to get to know each other a little better. They’ve both been raised by the same woman, Aunt Vivvy, whom Sean muses has “all the warmth of a garden hoe.”

The hike takes them past the back of the cemetery where Sean’s mother and brother Hugh (Kevin’s father) are laid to rest. Sean hasn’t been there since Hugh’s funeral five years ago, and wants to avoid the place. Because of Hugh’s early death, it’s unknown whether he might have been carrying the gene for Huntington’s, a devastating, incurable disease that caused their mother’s demise when they were kids. As a result, Kevin could be at risk for the gene—or not.

Though he’s also at risk, Sean has chosen not to be tested for Huntington’s. As he explains in another chapter, “I didn’t take it. I don’t want to know.” To avoid passing on the disease in case he is a carrier, Sean has never married or had children.

As they hike, it becomes clear that Kevin has an astute eye for detail about the world around him—and about his uncle Sean, as well. This perceptiveness will soon cause Sean to question his own future, as he learns more about the boy’s hidden strengths and the challenges he faces.
Learn more about the book and author at Juliette Fay's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Deep Down True.

--Marshal Zeringue