By the Time You Read Thisby Lola Jaye
Already a national bestseller in the U.K., Lola Jaye’s By the Time You Read This is a profoundly beautiful story of a father’s abiding love for the daughter he will never see grow up—and his determination to help guide her through the difficult crossroads and crises of her life even after his own passing. Poignant and unforgettable, evoking/i>… See more details below
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Already a national bestseller in the U.K., Lola Jaye’s By the Time You Read This is a profoundly beautiful story of a father’s abiding love for the daughter he will never see grow up—and his determination to help guide her through the difficult crossroads and crises of her life even after his own passing. Poignant and unforgettable, evoking in part The Pursuit of Happyness and The Last Lecture, By the Time You Read This celebrates a remarkable bond of love that can never be broken, not even by death.
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By the Time You Read This
Mom's marrying some prick she met down at bingo.
Apparently they fell in love as he called out "Legs eleven" in a smoke-filled hall in Lewisham, packed with bored house-wives ticking off paper boxes. Eyes down, cross off a number and another, until some wailing overweight woman shouts "House!" to anyone who gives a damn. I hate them. I hate bingo. And sometimes I hate Mom. But most of all, I hate him. For ordering me about, telling me to call him Dad, for pretending to be my dad and, most of all, for not being my dad.
You see, my dad's dead.
Some illness I couldn't even pronounce finished him off about seven years ago in 1983 when I was five and he was thirty.
But we don't talk about that.
We hardly even talk about him any more, really?.?.?.?
Sitting on the edge of the bed, Doc Martens feet swinging in time to my croaky hum of the Brookside theme tune, I shook my ridiculously ringleted hair that had taken ages to style and stunk of Dax hair grease and let out an exaggerated puff of air. I was fed-up. Almost a teenager, yet there I was clad in a frilly yellow dress that allowed me to resemble a pavlova. I wished I could just disappear. Maybe travel down the rec with Carla...my best friend...or change the habit of a lifetime and happily start some homework, complete with the seven dwarfs' whistle. In fact, I'd do almost anything to avoid this crappy, stupid, pathetic "wedding of the year."
"Lois!" Mom called in a squeaky voice.
"What?" I replied with a sigh, my eyes darting to heaven.
"Excuse me, young lady?"
"I mean, yes, Mommy?" I replied inthe cutest little voice I could pull off.
The door to my PRIVATE (-couldn't she read the sign on the door?) sanctuary swung open. "Are you ready yet, Lois? We've got to be at the registry for eleven and it's already nine forty-five!"
I checked out my mother in her wedding gear, glad she looked almost as tragic as I did. Thick blue eye-shadow in a tug of war with an off-white, two-piece mess with puffed sleeves. Puffed sleeves! It was 1990! Who did that any more? The silver shoes didn't help matters either, along with the backcombed hairstyle, perhaps more at home on a schizo poodle!
"I'm nearly ready," I replied sweetly, but with a spot of annoyance lurking round the corner. I swung off my bed, quickly locating the pink dolly shoes she'd bought just to humiliate me that little bit more. I didn't care about most people, but Carla and her brother Corey would be at the wedding to witness my shame and that just wasn't fair.
"You look so adorable!" gushed Mom, and for one ridiculous second I convinced myself she was going to cry.
"Er, thanks?" I mumbled, pulling off my worn DMs to slip into the dolly shoes, my little right toe recoiling in instant pain as it connected with the hard plastic. Only last week, I found out my right foot was longer than the left. I'm totally deformed!
"Come on then, let's go, Lois." I ignored the invite of Mom's hand as it came at me like a weapon. "I don't want to be late for my big day, now, do I?"
This summer was one of the hottest on record, which I could believe if my dress, currently sticking to me like flies to dog poo, was anything to go by. The heat rash that ensued meant that I scratched and tugged the dress all the way through the vows and exchanging of rings. Mercifully, the ser-vice was short. Unfortunately, the reception (held in a restaurant that stank of disinfectant) lasted a lot longer than necessary. Boring stories floating around the room like confetti. And what with the kisses, hugs, dull speeches and hard squeezes from sweaty relatives I'd never even set eyes on before, things grew shoddier by the millisecond. Worse still, Carla remained cocooned between her dad and brother on a table miles from mine. It was a total nightmare of a day, growing extra tragic the minute Granny Morris drew what little strength she had to shove me onto the dance floor for a slow dance! Eeek/Eeew! The experience of dancing with Granny Morris reminded me of one of those horror films Mom wouldn't let me watch, but I'd catch next door with Carla and Corey...only much, much worse.
I had finally managed to escape another "I remember when you were a little girl" tale, about to join Carla and Corey in sneaking outside, when out of the shadows of balloons, streamers and "The Birdie Song," a new guest appeared.
She was beautiful, with thick black braids cascading down her slimline back like a glossy rug. Unlike Mom's attempt at fashion, this lady wore a simple flowery shift dress and plain rounded hat that looked a bit like a full moon on her obviously gorgeous head. She smiled at me and, instantly, my mood lifted.
She walked toward me and I realized it was my Auntie Philomena...my real dad's sister. Her showing up was a massive surprise, especially as I hadn't seen her in ages. So instead of running outside to, I dunno, argue this week's top forty with my friends, I stood before this glamorous aunt of mine, waiting for something intelligent to pop into my head.
"Hello," I replied, sounding like a total geek.
"You look lovely."
I stared at her full lips, which looked pilfered from some unsuspecting model in a glossy magazine, and I began to wonder, did she act like him? Laugh like him? Think like him? I could only remember a handful of things about my dad. Stupid stuff, like the tiny mole just under his right eyelid.
"You remember me, then? I really wasn't sure if you would. I'm glad, though. Really pleased."
"No, well, I don't remember you THAT much?.?.?." I said, annoyed. Of course I remembered her. Unlike Dad's younger sister Ina, Auntie Philomena called me up a few times a year...mostly birthdays and Christmas. She even sent the odd hideous blouse, pictures or a lump of spice cake wrapped securely in tin foil through the post, when I'm sure a visit would have been more hygienic? But, apart from Mom making me travel up to Granny Bates once a year, I didn't really have that much full on contact with my dad's side of the family. And I was okay with that. Really, I was?.?.?.?I am.
I crunched a knuckle.
"I'm sorry," she said.
"For what?" I shrugged.
"For not being around much. I live pretty far away. And the kids?.?.?."By the Time You Read This. Copyright © by Lola Jaye. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Meet the Author
Lola was born in South London. She has degrees in Psychology and Psychotherapy and currently works for the NHS as a counsellor. Lola’s first novel, By The Time You Read This was published in July 2008 and her second book, While You Were Dreaming is out in June 2009. She has also written a Quick Read for World Book Day – Reaching for the Stars.
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