Wednesday, July 13, 2022

"What Jonah Knew"

Barbara Graham is the author of the New York Times bestseller Eye of My Heart, the national bestseller Women Who Run with the Poodles, and Camp Paradox, a memoir. Graham has written for many publications, including O, National Geographic Traveler, Time, and Vogue. Her plays have been produced Off-Broadway in New York, and at theatres around the county.

Graham applied the Page 69 Test to What Jonah Knew, her first novel, and reported the following:
On page 69 of What Jonah Knew, Helen, whose son, Henry, has been missing for months, is rushing Lucie—on the verge of giving birth—to the medical center in Albany. This, after Lucie went into labor prematurely while in Helen’s bakery. It’s quite a significant moment in the novel, though at this point the two women, who don’t know one another, have no idea that someday their lives will overlap in ways that will change them both forever.

At the top of the page, Helen is ruminating about her missing son: Maybe it was time to drag herself to the Parents of Missing Children support group that Will kept hounding her to attend, but which she thought of as the Mothers and Fathers of Perpetual Grief and so far had avoided like a flesh-eating virus.
But then Lucie interrupts Helen’s thoughts: “You know it’s going to hurt, but you never know how much until it’s happening,” Lucie said hoarsely, when the pain subsided.

“True, but as soon as you have the baby, you forget how awful it was. Mother Nature’s amnesia.” Helen glanced at Lucie. Her cheeks were blooming with bright pink splotches and sweat was raining down from her forehead and temples.
A little farther down the page, Helen floors the accelerator when Lucie’s contractions start coming faster.
“I wish my doctor would call, or my husband,” Lucie gulped. “I never thought it would happen like this, without them and… Oh God,” she howled, gripping Helen’s arm. “Big one.”
Though the reader doesn’t know at this point any better than Helen or Lucie that this scene is crucial to the unfolding narrative, it’s one of those turning points that in retrospect seems inevitable and helps to propel the rest of the book forward. As the author, it was interesting for me to take this test and see how just significant these moments between the two women were.
Visit Barbara Graham's website.

--Marshal Zeringue