A couple of weeks ago I was scheduled to be part of a blog tour for Once in a Blue Moon, but the book hadn’t arrived yet. I did post a brief generic overview here, but now that I’ve read this book, I wanted to share a bit about why I liked it.
This is the second novel I’ve read by Leanna Ellis. While it’s a very different tale from Ruby’s Slippers, I found the main character, Bryn Seymour, to be fascinating. Her memory of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon is colored by the fact that her mother died that evening under strange circumstances, when Bryn was only nine. Now she’s a reporter/obituary writer whose memories don’t add up. Her Nana, who raised her after the death, won’t talk about what happened, so when Bryn meets a strange (very strange…) man who claims to have known her mother, Bryn follows him to Marfa, Texas, in an effort to unlock the mysteries.
But Howard Walters is a paranoid conspiracy theorist who used to work for NASA, and he regrets contacting Bryn. Now he’s reluctant to talk to her, and she’s equally reluctant to share her own memories. Bryn is a flawed heroine with some serious trust issues of her own, but she’s made sympathetic because of losing her mother traumatically at a young age. We’re rooting for her to uncover the secrets–the ones inside her, the ones Howard holds, and the ones they stumble across along the way.
It takes a special man to teach her to reach for faith and love. You don’t come across a guy like that every day. Just once in a blue moon.
Here’s the opening:
Here lies Obit writer Bryn
She should have stayed home
Instead of jumping in.
Itâ€™s the story of my life. I often jump before looking, much less thinking. But there it is. My life is an obituary-in-the-making. Scary, huh? It keeps things in perspective. But itâ€™s not just me. I see others as potential obits, too. Professional hazard, I suppose. Friends text or email pictures of funny or unusual tombstones. One sent me this yesterday:
The children of Israel wanted bread,
And the Lord sent them manna,
Old clerk Wallace wanted a wife,
And the devil sent him Anna.
On Halloween, to give everyone in the office a laugh, I dress up as the Grim Reaper. Every artistâ€™s rendering Iâ€™ve ever encountered of the bleak goon in dark, heavy cloak resembles a tall, skinny scarecrow. Thatâ€™s pretty much me in a nutshell. Minus the scythe.
Today, on assignment, dressed in fairly normal clothes (for Austinâ€™s relaxed attitude, but not necessarily Houstonâ€™s uptightness) of jeans, cowboy boots, and T-shirt (which reads: Dead Men Tell No Lies, but their family will!), I stand in a long, snaking line of which I can just now see the front, waiting my turn (not necessarily patiently). Of course, my brain wanders as it is prone to do when it doesnâ€™t have anything occupying it, my thoughts leaning toward the morose.
Most folks Iâ€™ve talked to this weekend celebrating the 40th anniversary at NASA have happy memories of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. Astronauts, celebrities, and the common folk alike who observe the stars above and dream of galaxies light years away have gathered at the NASA facilities. Their spirits are as buoyed as the gazillion red-white-and-blue balloons floating around the building, some bound together to form puffy rockets and planetary orbs.
Visitors who were alive on July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong stepped on the gray surface of the moon want to share their memories of the event of the twentieth century. Itâ€™s a universal hobby this looking up at the moon, gazing into the depths of space and wondering if life on earth is all there is. Or if there is more, heavenward or in the opposite direction, if there are men from Mars, women from Venus or from some other galaxy. The stars spark our imaginations. The longer we gaze, the smaller and more insignificant we feel, and a craving to know there is something beyond us grows. â€œOne small step for man â€¦â€
â€¦ a giant leap into the black hole of my past. I was just a nine-year-old kid busy with throwing a softball into my glove rather than listening to Walter Cronkite narrate the historic occasion, the night my mother stepped into the hereafter â€¦ a murkiness of darkness or light, whatever your beliefs might be. Mine bend toward a gray mist clouding over my heart, leaving me most often in the dark. The gravity of my motherâ€™s death pulls me down into a mire of sticky emotions I usually avoid. Without even the spin of the simulator Iâ€™m waiting to ride, I suddenly feel my world reel and my stomach tilt.