The Possibility of Firefliesby Dominique Paul
I am sitting on my front stoop. I think it's about midnight. I was busy reading up until an hour ago, but my eyes started to hurt from squinting. Now it's just me and the waiting.
It's 1987 and fourteen-year-old Ellie Roma doesn't have much of a family. She lives with her mother, who has taken a break from parenting; and her older sister, Gwen, who is on/b>
I am sitting on my front stoop. I think it's about midnight. I was busy reading up until an hour ago, but my eyes started to hurt from squinting. Now it's just me and the waiting.
It's 1987 and fourteen-year-old Ellie Roma doesn't have much of a family. She lives with her mother, who has taken a break from parenting; and her older sister, Gwen, who is on her way to becoming a juvenile delinquent. Her father left them to start a new life.
So Ellie spends a lot of time alone, especially at night, when all she has to keep her company are the fireflies that flicker in the summer air. Then one day a mysterious stranger enters her dark world. He is Leo, twenty-one, who is on his way to Hollywood to become a rock star. Ellie and Leo connect instantly, and Ellie hopes Leo will be the one to rescue her from her unhappy life. But instead, Leo teaches Ellie that no one can save you. You have to go after what you want. So one night one terrible, frightening, thrilling night that's exactly what Ellie decides to do.
With a fresh perspective, first-time novelist Dominique Paul deftly weaves a family drama about chaos and dysfunction, with a young girl's journey of triumph. Full of humor and sorrow, heartbreak and hope, The Possibility of Fireflies is really a story that we all have to tell: the story of the summer we grew up.
- Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.60(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)
- Age Range:
- 14 - 17 Years
Read an Excerpt
The Possibility of Fireflies
By Dominique Paul
Simon & Schuster Children's PublishingCopyright © 2006 Dominique Paul
All right reserved.
I am sitting on my front stoop. The rows of town houses, some of them brick, some that colorful metal stuff, face me in the dark. I think it's about midnight. I was busy reading up until an hour ago, but my eyes started to hurt from squinting. Now it's just me and the waiting.
I'm getting good at this. My mother does this lately . . . leaves me out here. She says she forgets. She goes out a lot these days and sometimes she forgets to leave a key for me. She says I can't be trusted with my own set of keys, so my older sister Gwen and I devised a plan. We unlatch the back window in case this happens, then we can crawl through and just go on to bed. But I checked, and the window is locked too. Gwen must be at a friend's house for the night. A school night. Can you imagine?
I had gone to a friend's house after school, but her dad dropped me off here at eight o'clock. Sometimes I go home on the bus with my best friend, Celia, even though Celia says it is beneath us to ride the school bus because we are in the ninth grade now. The school bus doesn't go all the way to my house. It stops at the end of Turkey Foot Road and then I have to walk two miles, which never seems like a good idea to me.
I love going to Celia's house, bus or no bus. Her mom, Mrs. Meyers, waits for us at the top of the driveway. She usedto wait at the bottom of the drive, but then Celia reminded her that we are almost fifteen, so now she waits at the top. Mrs. Meyers is a natural redhead with watery blue eyes and a cherubic smile. She usually smells like Pine-Sol and she always kisses both of us, leaving perfect pink lip marks on our faces. She always asks specific questions about our day. Like for instance today she asked me, "Ellie honey" -- she says that like it's one word -- "what happened with your idea for your Shakespeare class?" and I skipped alongside her into the kitchen because I knew she was wondering if my English teacher agreed that it was a good idea to have the kids read all the parts aloud like Shakespeare himself intended. So when she asked me this, I was able to report back that, indeed, we would now be reading aloud with the parts preassigned so we could practice.
"Well," Mrs. Meyers said enthusiastically, "that'll be just like a play every day in fourth period."
That was my favorite part. I said it over and over in my head, a play every day, and pictured myself standing in front of the class reciting the prose of poor, wounded Ophelia.
She served Celia and me lemon bars and milk at the kitchen table, where we looked through Star Hits magazine at pictures of all the latest Brit Pop cuties, Duran Duran being our favorite. Celia and I both think John Taylor is the cutest, and sometimes it is the source of some tension between us. We are both afraid that John will like the other more. Celia for her long legs, me for my hair. Celia says the way my hair feathers all the way down the sides and meets in the back is enviable. But I still say that is second to being leggy. I try to sell her on Simon's good points (he's a poet, I tell her), but so far she's not buying it.
After we ate our snack and were done with the Star Hits, we went up to her room to do our homework. Celia's room is a shrine to Duran Duran. Every inch of her walls is covered; she even cut out small pictures of the band from newspapers to cover the molding on her bedroom door.
At six thirty we heard her dad come home from work. Mrs. Meyers didn't greet him outside because she was busy making dinner, which is always at six forty-five. We went downstairs and headed for the kitchen.
"Hi, Daddy." Celia kissed her dad on his cheek. "Mom? Ellie's gonna stay for dinner, 'kay?"
"Sure. If it's okay with her mother."
That was the fun part because -- and I do this every time -- I walked over to the phone feigning dread in an effort to appear as though I wasn't sure what my mother would say. Could I stay? Would my presence be demanded at home at once? What, oh what, would the outcome be? The whole evening hung in the balance.
Then I picked up the phone and dialed the time.
Of course, my mother was well on her way to happy hour at that point. But I proceeded, as usual, to have a lengthy conversation for the benefit of everyone in the room. I nervously asked the automated clock if it would be okay for me to stay at the Meyerses' for dinner. One time when I did this I got carried away and said, "Oh, you were going to make coq au vin?" I don't even know what that is, but, boy, does it sound good. "Could we save it for tomorrow?" I'm careful not to do that anymore, though, because Mrs. Meyers began gesturing wildly from across the room in a manner that could only mean, "Oh no, no, dear, if your mom is going to all that trouble . . . ," and I had to quickly hang up. God forbid she might ask to speak to my mother! She'd grab the receiver from me with her usual zeal only to hear, "At the tone the time will be . . ." The horror.
I hung up the phone. "She says it's fine." Celia winked at me, knowing.
Tonight Mrs. Meyers made pasta primavera. All I can say is, Wow. Penne pasta with a myriad of fresh vegetables she cut herself: broccoli, peppers, carrots, zucchini -- too many to count. Plus a salad with walnuts in it, plus bread. Rosemary bread with a very hard but yummy crust. Even dessert. Did I mention it's only Tuesday? Strawberries over angel cake with Cool Whip.
Celia's parents had wine with dinner, and Mrs. Meyers asked if it would be okay with my mother if I had a little wine with them.
Sometimes adults do this; they try to include you in a way that is well-intentioned if not entirely appropriate. But when this sort of thing happens, I have a ready response. "Oh, it's fine. I'm Italian, it's normal." And that is true. I am Italian. My dad is full-blooded Italian and my mom is mostly Italian and a little Irish, too.
Mr. Meyers, who hardly ever speaks, said that I didn't look Italian, and I said that I was fair like my mom and my sister was dark like my dad. This explanation always seems to satisfy everyone. Like if at least some of us have dark skin and hair, then we are authentic Italians. My sister has the dark skin and hair, but her eyes are green just like mine. Of course, they are a lot more striking on her. Green eyes with dishwater-blond hair and fair skin just don't have the same effect as they do when everything else is dark. Trust me on this. Relatives, strangers, everyone on the street says to Gwen, "What beautiful eyes you have!" I feel like waving a banner that says, "Hel-lo! Mine are the exact same color!"
"How's your mom liking her new job?" asked Mr. Meyers.
"She likes it," I told him. "She says to say thank you."
"It was my pleasure."
Celia's dad is a doctor. A few months ago, when my mom lost her job at the insurance company, he got her a job with a friend of his who deals in medical supplies. She's the office manager. My mom can type sixty words per minute, plus she knows shorthand.
I filled up on pasta and salad, and bread, and dessert. I even had a few sips of red wine, which wasn't very good, not that I'm complaining. You probably think I'm not old enough to know the good stuff from the rest when it comes to wine, but this is not true. A by-product of growing up Italian is that you know a lot about wine. My dad always says, "Life is too short to drink bad wine." When I was growing up, he would spend more than we had on nice bottles of wine for special occasions like Christmas. This would infuriate my mother, and she would yell things like who did he think he was, buying wine like that, and didn't he know he was just a steelworker's son from Pennsylvania no matter what his degrees said. They fought a lot, my parents. Then finally, about a year ago, my dad left.
After dinner, Celia and I did homework, and then Mr. Meyers drove me home. When we pulled into my neighborhood and neared the corner to our townhouse, I could see that no lights were on.
Seeing the concerned look on his face, I told Mr. Meyers our porch light was broken. "My mom's been meaning to get that fixed," I lied.
I grabbed my backpack and climbed out of the truck. They just bought a teal green Suzuki Samurai. Celia says it will be hers when she turns sixteen.
"Thanks for the ride. Good night," I called over my shoulder as I slowly made my way to the front door.
"Good night!" I said again and waved really big as though to say, You can go now. But he didn't drive off.
"I'll just watch you go on in," he said sleepily and adjusted his glasses on his face.
Shit. Now what? I casually lifted the welcome mat with my foot (the irony here was not lost on me) and looked down for a key. Nothing. I needed a plan.
"I'll just go around back and get my dog," I said.
Oh, great, like that was believable. We don't even have a dog anymore. But this was my plan: I figured I'd sneak in through the back window, unlock the front door, go back out the back door, walk around front, and just go in the door like a normal person. Truth be told, I just wasn't ready for the Meyerses or anyone else to know that no one was home; that it seemed like no one was ever home; that I am fourteen and regularly locked out of my own house because my mother has decided, and I quote, "to take a vacation from parenting." What would they think of me?
I walked to the back of the house and checked the window. Locked. Either Gwen was a total dip or Mom found it unlocked. You'd think it was Fort Knox in there, the way she is about the locks. I considered this for a moment and resolved that I would just have to lie.
I marched around to the front and announced, "My sister has taken the dog for a walk. It is such a nice night; I just love this time of year . . . I think I'll just sit outside and watch the fireflies while I wait for her." I said this with as much conviction as I could muster and held my breath as Mr. Meyers considered it.
"Are you sure?" Mr. Meyers hesitated. Oh, yes, I said. Completely sure. Go on home. I'll be fine. Then he drove off and left me in the dark as I'd insisted.
It was a lie, of course. But these days lies seem to slip off my tongue more easily than the truth. The lies just sound better, more palatable. I mean, I couldn't very well say my mother was out God knows where, doing God knows what, and had locked me out again, could I? Besides, our neighbor's mom knows the truth, and now Jennie's not allowed to talk to me anymore. She walks right by me at school and acts like she doesn't know who I am. So instead I said that I am restless and want to enjoy the night, want to watch the fireflies as they light up like stars right in front of me. Now, isn't that better? And if you think about it, isn't it just a little true? I realize that the truth is becoming malleable for me, this thing I can shape and manipulate to suit me. Granted, I'm just trying to survive here, but one day this could be a big problem. Don't sociopaths and murderers do the very same thing? Maybe it's better just to tell people what is really going on, to reveal the truth no matter how hard it is to swallow. But first, I suppose I would have to understand what is really going on, and that is a whole thing unto itself.
All I can say is, since my dad left, my mother has . . . not so much changed . . . it's more like she's come unraveled. Like he was the last bit of glue that was keeping her together, and now that he's gone, all the broken parts can take over. I haven't quite figured it out yet. All I know is, it feels like nothing makes sense anymore. And there are days, like today, when the world seems very far away.
It's still too early in the year for honeysuckle, so instead I inhale the smell of the first mown grass in bags. Equally pleasurable. I can picture the sweaty husbands mowing all day while their wives bring them ice-cold sun tea and mop their brows. I've always wanted to make sun tea. You have to use like twenty tea bags or something. My mom likes the instant, powdered kind. I think it's too sweet, and one time when I said so, she told me I should get a job and buy my own then. Sometimes you just never know where it's gonna come from with her. A simple thing like tea.
My eyelids are so heavy I can't fight it anymore. The fireflies are tired too now and have stopped using their lights, though I suspect they are still out there flying silently in the dark, hovering in the distance like silent guardians. I snuggle into my backpack and am about to fold into sleep when the knowledge spoons up behind me and rests its head on my shoulder: Apart from the possibility of fireflies, I am alone. It is just me and darkness . . . and hope.
Copyright 2006 by Dominique Paul
Excerpted from The Possibility of Fireflies by Dominique Paul Copyright © 2006 by Dominique Paul. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Dominique Paul grew up in a Maryland suburb just outside of Washington, D.C., and received her BA in English from the University of Maryland, College Park. Currently she lives in Los Angeles, where she works as a screenwriter. The Possibility of Fireflies is her first novel.
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I loved this book so much. It was a very....um......whats the word for it? Undescribable tale. I love Ellies journey.
Great book loved it.
Best book i ever read. I couldn't put it down. Would read it again.
Every so often a book comes along that is so good it feels more like it grew than it was written, like it came into being through its own sheer force of will. That is exactly how I feel about this book.
Ellie Roma is a freshman in high school. She has her fair share of normal high school problems; she hates school, she only has a few friends, she`s insecure about the way she looks, her sister seems like she's become an alien, etc. Ellie's got some bigger problems, though. She's new in town. As if that isn't bad enough, they moved three times when they first got to town. The last time was just next door, so everyone in the neighborhood thinks they're nuts. Her parents recently got divorced, and she hasn't seen her dad in a few months. Oh, and her mom has decided to "take a vacation from parenting."
Ever since her parents' divorce Ellie feels like nothing in her life makes sense. Her sister, Gwen, has completely switched personalities, from cheerleader to juvenile delinquent. Her mother, well, Ellie says it best; "...it's more like she's come unraveled. Like he was the last bit of glue that was keeping her together, and now that he's gone, all the broken parts can take over." Ellie spends a lot of time locked out of the house, basically living by her mom's whim. It's starting to get to the point where it's easier to lie than to tell the truth. Consciously trying to escape her mother's notice, Ellie has become an observer in her own life.
The book is told by Ellie, as things happen. At first it's all observation and barely scratches the surface of Ellie. As the story progresses Ellie opens up more, and allows herself to be a bit more vulnerable. The more vulnerable she lets herself become, the more she begins to be involved in her own life, and the more involved we become. Somehow, before you know it, you are living and breathing inside Ellie's story. By the end of it my heart felt like it had been taken, broken, and given back in the most tender, loving, beautiful way.
At its simplest level this is a coming of age story, but it's also a story of survival, strength, love, hope, and most of all possibility.
I love Ellie so much. When I read the blurb I knew I was going to love the book, but I didn't know just how much. I am sixteen but I relate to Fourteen-year-old Ellie just perfectly. Although things aren't really rough at home, I felt the loneliness and needing, wanting to be saved. And I, too, have looked to someone older, right away thinking that he'd be the one to save me. The ending just really tugged on my heart even harder, and I teared. Maybe it was because I just felt like I was Ellie. Whatever it was, I've read this book three times since I got it. And I have the need to read it again. I normally do not like to read books that were set years ago, but this one was just the perfect time. I really want to thank Dominique Paul for bringing this book to life. It means an entire city to me.
When I read this book, I COULD NOT put it down. It was such a good book, maybe the best I've ever read. It's so different and surprising. I almost cried at the end too! It is a definite must-read book!!!
The Possibility of Fireflies was one of the best books I have read yet. Dominique Paul makes it feel like you're actually in Ellie's shoes and can feel the actual tension in the room when her mother hits her older rebellious sister, Gwen again. The story is emotional, realistic and keeps you reading from the cover to the very end. She describes the swelling of a fast-beating heart so well that it makes you envious to fall in love just like the main character, Ellie. I can barely wait for the motion picture to come out and for the sequel. And I'm sure you will too.
Oh my gosh i loved this book i seriously could'nt stop reading it. i think some teens can relate to gwen and ellies relationship with ther parents, i know i do i think there should be a sequle oh and at the end i actually cried and i was disappointed it was over no lie!!
This book is set in the 1980's and is seen through the eyes of 14 year old Ellie. I feel this book is a very honest coming of age story that actually brought me to tears. It is a story of a broken home, a friend, love...and hope. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
Dominique Paul visited Wootton High School today, the school she attended, and talked to us about her inspirations for this novel. I would just like to say what an amazing person she is...she is so real and so many teens can relate to her story. This is a worth-while read and to also watch out for the movie adaptation of this book which starts filming in March of 2007...it stars Kelly Preston and Michelle Tractenburg... MYSPACE/dominiquepaul
wow! this book was really good! I the type of person that useually NEVER finishes books, and i actually finished it! D. Paul did a wonderful job for it being her first novel. I cant wait to see if she wries another!
This book has made me disrespect non-vampire books. When you read this book-which i hope you won't- please don't be dissappointed because you should really expect it because of the way it starts out and the scene where she and her sister and mother are standing. Just terrible. You shouldn't even waste your valuable time writing a bad report. Stick with vampire books if you're a twilight lover. Here are some recommendations.
This book is very disappointing. I would never recommend it to anyone. Especially for young teens. There are some language in there that doesn't need to be read.