Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Book Spotlight: No Alligators in Sight by Kirsten B. Feldman

Book Summary:

In this coming of age novel, Lettie and Bert squeak by in a tiny town on Cape Cod, one parent an alcoholic and the other absent. After a string of bad decisions on Lettie’s part, their father ships them to their barely remembered mother for the summer, where they will learn hard lessons about themselves, their family, and their future by way of the Florida swamp. Throughout Lettie keeps her biting humor flowing, her razor-sharp pen at the ready, and her eye on her quest for a “normal” life.

Author Bio (photo taken by Tracy A. Lenz)
I grew up on Cape Cod and the Connecticut shoreline and now live outside of Boston, much too far from the ocean and the sand. Reading and writing have played a central part in my life both personally and professionally. I am rarely without a book in my hand. Brown University gave me my undergrad degree in comparative literature, and Tufts kindly did the same for my master's in English education. I have worked in a variety of school and museum education settings, including teaching 7th and 8th grade English. My graduate advisor once told me that if teenagers don't make you laugh then consider another career. To me the adolescent voice has such vibrancy and depth to it, whether funny or not; many of my favorite books have this point of view, including: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood. When I started writing No Alligators in Sight, it was unequivocally Lettie's voice that told me the story.  May she speak to you as well!

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Excerpt from No Alligators in Sight

“So.  Let’s get started.” He squinted up at the sun, just approaching its height.  “We’ve got a good eight to nine hours before it gets dark.  Plan is to bushwhack our way around the island, look for the best spot to cut through to the center, and make a site for the tents and the latrine.”  He reached into one of the moldy canvas bags he’d brought and pulled out four big knives with curved blades.  He slung the bag over his head and behind his back. “Know what these are?”
“Cool!  Swords!” Bert was already reaching for one.
I had seen them in the army/navy store in Provincetown.  I didn’t know anyone actually used them, I thought they were more sort of decorative, or if you were a veteran remembering your days in Nam.  “You’re giving an eight-year-old a machete.  Isn’t there some law against that, child labor or something?”
“Now you’re a joker, huh?  You need to work on your delivery.”
“Seriously, he can’t use that thing.  He’ll cut off his leg.”
“Yes, I can, I can.  See?” Bert grabbed for a machete and then swung wildly to cut down a mass of green growth.  I didn’t know what it was; all the plants were different down here and grew bigger overnight.  I’d seen in the paper that some of the vines in Key West were so strong they pulled down telephone lines.
“No blood, huh?  All set then.  We’ll go this way,” he put his leash hand on Gertrude’s shoulder, “and you two go that way.  We’ll meet at that big tree in a couple hours, report our progress.”   He waved vaguely at the great trees that crowded the central part of the island (like the whole island wasn’t covered in trees).  “And you better have made some.” He put one of the big duffels over his other shoulder.
“You look out for Bert, okay, Leticia?” Gertrude quavered.
“Like I ever do anything else,” I muttered.  “And don’t worry about me or anything.  I’m all set for Jungleland here, plenty of preparation.”
“Clearly her mouth is her best weapon.  Let’s go, True.  Time’s a waitin’,” and then they were off.  She didn’t even look back.
“Wasting, you idiot.”
“Is he serious?”

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