Elegies for the Brokenhearted
A NovelBook - 2010
In five quirky elegies to lost friends and relatives, Mary tells us the story of her life. We begin with a restless childhood spent following her mother between multiple homes and husbands. Then comes the disappearance of Mary's rebellious and beloved sister, Malinda. By the time Mary leaves for college, she has no one to write home to, and we follow along on her difficult search for purpose. From a series of miserable jobs to her ?reborn? mother's deathbed, Mary finds hope in the most surprising places. With a rhythmically unique voice and pitch-perfect wry humor, Christie Hodgen spins an unconventional and moving story about identity, belonging, and family.
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All your life your name was synonymous with a kind of humiliating, pathetic stupidity. You were a walking joke, a sitting duck, a fish in a barrel. That you eventually died in an accident came as no surprise to anyone. When word of your death went through the neighborhood people received it as if a letter they’d been expecting in the mail. The only wonder was, they said, it hadn’t come sooner.
All of our problems became your problems. When our teachers sent us home with notes (three times Malinda had burst into tears for no reason at all; I spent most of the day staring out the window and often failed to respond when called on; when Malinda and I were together, at lunch and recess, we held hands and wouldn’t speak to anyone else; we tended to show up to school wearing the same clothes for several days in a row. And all of these things were considered, in the language of the school, to be “red flags”), you were the one who received and addressed them (Quit crying, you said to Malinda. Quit staring out the window, you told me. To us both you said, Change your clothes, and quit holding hands, for chrissakes).
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