Just in time for the publication of THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF SISTERS (Tuesday! February 23!) I have a brand new website. I thank Adrian Kinloch, my long-time web person, for creating this one, and the last one, and the one before that. He really caught the vibe of the book, and I'm excited to unveil and share the site with you.
There are so many parts of the novel that I want to tell you about. First of all, the sisters, Tilly and Roo. They are beach girls--they grew up at a magical beach on Long Island Sound (Hubbard's Point, familiar to those who've read me before)--and they're closer than close. Although they have great friends, they know that sisters are the best friends ever. (This comes from my mother saying to my two sisters and me, "You'll have many friends, but you'll only have two sisters.") There's a boy--of course there's a boy, it's the beach--and he's Newton, your basic adorable geek that Roo has loved forever.
The sisters' closeness is challenged when the worst thing possible happens--Roo has a car accident that Tilly is partly responsible for, and everything changes. Roo's drastic condition, locked-in syndrome, causes her to be a total prisoner of her own body, even while her mind is as alert and agile as ever, and no one knows she's in there. Tilly's guilt tears her up, makes concentration and school impossible, and drives her to get so close to Newton that...well, talk about guilt multiplied. But there's redemption. Tilly is still the only one Roo can trust to figure it out, know she's not in a coma, not in a vegetative state, but in something else.
There's more. There are beach walks, and starry nights, and first kisses, and owls. Yes, there are owls. And a wise old woman who lives in a blue house with a pink door and who knows what it means to be a true sister forever, through the best and the worst. She may or may not have special, witchy powers.
I loved writing this novel. Can you love your characters too much? If so, that might have been the case here. I cried when I wrote about Tilly and Roo because I know what they feel for each other. They love each other, but they don't do it perfectly. That's the big secret of relationships--no one does it perfectly. You keep your eyes open and let it all in--love, fear, pain--and you don't push it away. You feel it as deeply as you can, and it guides you. You try to be there for the other person. On bad days, you fail miserably. But on good days--on most days?--you hold her hand, cheer her on, help her take baby steps then big steps then run the marathon, you give her hope and a reason to live. And in doing so you give yourself hope. You already have a reason to live, but congratulations: you've just discovered the secret of life.
Love. It's not just a feeling. It's an action.