Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"The Summer of Letting Go"

Gae Polisner is the award-winning author of The Pull of Gravity. She is a family law mediator by trade but a writer by calling. She lives on Long Island with her husband and two sons. When she’s not writing, she can be found in a pool or, in warmer weather, in her wet suit in the open waters of Long Island Sound. Her new book, The Summer of Letting Go, is her second novel for teen readers.

Polisner applied the Page 69 Test to The Summer of Letting Go and reported the following:
The minute I turned to page 69 in my book, I was sure you started this feature just for me (thanks!). In a moment, you’ll understand why.

Suffice it to say, page 69 is the place where Part II of my book opens, and if I had had to choose on my own, a single paragraph to represent the story, I might not have been able to do it any better. There may not be a more representative page of my book.

The Summer of Letting Go tells the story of almost-16-yr-old Francesca “Beans” “Frankie” Schnell who, four years ago, witnessed her baby brother, Simon, drown. Guilty and broken, Francesca has hunkered down in the shadows of her life, resolved to play second fiddle to her dead brother’s memory and to her best friend Lisette, a blonde bubbly beauty Francesca lives vicariously through. That is, until she meets a young boy named Frankie Sky who bears an uncanny resemblance to Simon. Frankie Sky brings humor and hope to Francesca’s life, and helps her to step out of the shadows, whether or not she solves the riddle of his connection to her brother.

Here’s the opening to page 69:
As I’m about to knock on the Schylers’ front door, it opens.

Frankie stands there in blue Batman underpants and a Superman T- shirt with a red towel wrapped around his shoulders like a cape. For a second I’m shaken because his face is more my brother’s than I remember. But then he smiles and it makes me feel happy inside, as if a piece of Simon is right here in front of me.
That moment is the second in the story where Francesca finds herself in Frankie Sky’s presence, and, you can see, pretty much the crux of the story. There is an instant connection between them, one that might be more overwhelming, unbearable even, if not for Frankie’s sense of humor. Indeed, it’s his silly lightness of being that allows Francesca to open the door in the first place – both literally, and figuratively to the rest of her life.
I’m about to tell him he shouldn’t open the door for strangers, but he says, “Is okay, Frankie, I seed you from the window.” Then he pulls me in and quickly closes the door. Like he’s afraid that, otherwise, I might leave.
It’s Frankie’s trust in Francesca – his wish for her to stay – that sets her on a path toward believing she might have good to offer the world, and that suffering great loss doesn’t mean you can’t ever trust to hold on again, even as you figure out how to let go.
Visit Gae Polisner's website.

Writers Read: Gae Polisner.

--Marshal Zeringue