Thursday, December 27, 2018

"The Girl at the Border"

Leslie Archer is the nom de plume of a New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty-five novels.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Girl at the Border, and reported the following:
Is page 69 representative of the rest of the book?

Is it ever! Herewith, a crucial scene between Angela and Richard, which just about sums up what a good part of the novel is about:
Beside and above her, Richard seemed to have fallen asleep with the light on, his open logbook lying across his chest. She listened to the familiar sound of his breath, even and comforting. Silently she rose. At the edge of his bed, she leaned over, switched off the light.

It wasn’t until she was back on the mattress, settling the blanket over herself, that Richard said, very softly, “There are venomous forces in the world.”

She lay unmoving, saying nothing, wondering where this was going. His voice was so light and low maybe he was talking in his sleep.

Then he said, “I exposed Bella to one of those venomous forces. My wife. And what did I do to protect her? Nothing. I knew I couldn’t take her away from Maggie. I absented myself from an intolerable situation.”

Tears slid down Angela’s cheeks. Her heart broke for him. She felt crushed beneath the weight of his words and recalled the silent grief in his eyes while he had been trying to text with Bella. Was this how her inarticulate father had felt? A wracking shiver went through her. At last, she understood. It was like a chain, strands of DNA twining, spinning out across generations: her father hadn’t been able to talk to her because she was a mystery to him. She was a mystery to him because he was a mystery to himself. She had told Richard that her father was a good man, but now she understood that he hadn’t known that about himself. She saw all this replicated in Richard, clear and painfully sharp in the darkness of the tent.
There is so much pain in people’s lives, so much goes unspoken until it’s too late, or not at all. Admitting to yourself what you can’t stand to face is part of what life is all about. Here, Angela begins her journey back from being an exile, both actually and figuratively, to accepting the love in someone else, and the love that lies hidden within herself. It’s a key scene in the novel, and I’m so happy it occurs on page 69!
Visit Leslie Archer's website.

--Marshal Zeringue