Saving Cicadasby Nicole Seitz
"It was about four years ago, the last trip we ever took togethermy mother, sister, grandparents and me. Course, we didn't know it at the time. You never know something like that, like it's the last one you'll ever get, till it's just a memory, hanging like mist. This is what happened that summer, true as I can tell it. Not a one of us was ever the same."<
"It was about four years ago, the last trip we ever took togethermy mother, sister, grandparents and me. Course, we didn't know it at the time. You never know something like that, like it's the last one you'll ever get, till it's just a memory, hanging like mist. This is what happened that summer, true as I can tell it. Not a one of us was ever the same."
Part road trip, part mystery, and completely unexpected, Saving Cicadas picks you up in one place and puts you down someplace else entirely. It's an eloquent reminder that life is a miracleand even the smallest soul is a gift.
"...a surprisingly creative tale that will leave readers guessing until the end."
-River Jordan, author of Saints in Limbo
- Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
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Saving Cicadasa novel
By Nicole Seitz
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2009 Nicole Seitz
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFlying Dreams
Come over here by the light and let me see what pretty pictures you drew. Oh, this one here is my favorite, Janie. Is this a car?
Can you tell me about it?
I trace my finger along the red and blue lines on construction paper, the green blurred trees, the yellow circles for faces-then I close my eyes. It's how I remember best.
It was about four years ago, the last trip we ever took together-my mother, sister, grandparents, and me. 'Course, we didn't know it at the time. You never know something like that, like it's the last one you'll ever get, till it's just a memory, hanging like mist. This is what happened that summer, true as I can tell it. Not a one of us was ever the same.
I sat in the front seat, all eight-and-a-half years of me, twirling my hair and trying to hum a happy tune. I did this, knowing Mama was nothing at all close to being happy after just finding out she was having another child. In fact, sitting so close to her, I thought my mama's fear and anger smelled a lot like dill pickle relish and red onions. Or maybe it was just Grandma Mona, old and mean and full of egg salad, breathing down ournecks from behind the seat.
Some things, like the smell of fear and anger-and guilt-are enough to drive anybody out on the road, even when gas prices are about to kill you.
A gallon of gas had soared to over four dollars that summer, and Mama said that alone might do her in. Not like she had a money tree or anything in the backyard. Hers was hollow, dead, and bearing no fruit-certainly no dollar bills. No, Priscilla Lynn Macy was a working woman, said she gave her life and youth to the pancake house. So you might think it strange we would set out on the highway. I did, anyway. But I would soon find out this was no regular summer vacation. We were destined to go.
Mama had stuck her long blonde hair in a ponytail, packed the whole caboodle into the car-the past, the present, the future-and we were barreling down I-26 at seventy-five miles an hour, and she had absolutely no idea where she was going, or maybe she did. Maybe she knew deep down she wasn't running away from her problems but hauling them right along with her.
Rainey Dae Macy, my seventeen-year-old sister, hugged a plastic baby doll in the backseat and watched the trees blur into a long green line. She didn't like change or surprise vacations, but she kept her mouth shut anyway. She was used to doing whatever pleased Mama, fearing her special needs made Mama's life just a little bit harder than most.
I was more or less a normal kid. Like most, I dreamed of saving the world someday. Not like superwoman, but I don't know-making sure kids had clothes and enough to eat, making sure people like Mama had good jobs that made money and made them feel good when they went home each day, like they did something with their brains-like they did something to help the world in some small way. Not like they were wasting every second of every day of every year of their lives-like Mama had said, oh, more than a time or two.
* * *
Two nights before we left Cypresswood, Mama was tucking Rainey into her princess sheets on the top bunk when she asked her how many days there were until Christmas.
"About six months," Mama said.
"How many days?" Rainey insisted. She liked to count things. she was good at it. And she counted days like seconds, like sand.
"Let's see ... a hundred and ninety, I think."
Rainey started to whine, "That long? I want it now."
My mother was sensitive to any talk about Christmas presents. she'd hear one and add it to her master list. That way, come holiday time, she wasn't scrambling to save money and frantic to buy. So she asked, full of hope, "Why, is there something you want for Christmas, honey?"
"Yeah, but ... I cain't tell you," said Rainey.
"I made a wish. On a dandelion. Won't come true if I say it."
"If you tell me, honey, I can help you write a letter and make sure Santa knows about it."
"Huh-uh," said Rainey. "God knows. He tell Santa."
I was lying in the bottom bunk, listening to the whole thing. I was wise for my age. Not meaning any harm, Mama often said things in my presence that aged me, partly because she was a single mother doing the job of two, and partly because she had a special-needs child and a crappy job and she was going gray early. Sometimes, she'd just about talk to the wind in order to get it all out.
So I, Janie Doe Macy, listening to the wish conversation and knowing my mother the way I did-how hard she worked, how hard she tried-felt sorry for her.
"Don't worry, Mama," I said. "I'll get her to tell me. I can help you make sure Santa gets the message."
Mama kissed Rainey on the cheek and on her flattened nose and on her upturned eyes. "Good night, sweetheart."
"'Night, Mama. Don't forget Janie light." Rainey knew I was deathly afraid of the dark.
"Good night, sweet Janie. Don't let the bedbugs bite."
"'Night," I said.
Mama reached down and turned on the night-light, then she stood there at the door, not leaving, and smiled at us in a strange sort of way. She started counting on her fingers. Then she spouted out, "Oh good gosh, I'm late. I'm never late." She reminded me of the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, and I wondered what she could be late for at this hour. The light from the window was turning sapphire blue.
When the door closed, I looked up to the top bunk and whispered, "Rainey, you can tell me your wish. Sisters don't count."
"Huh-uh. I wished on the dandelion. It won't be true."
"Rainey, just tell me. Please?"
It was quiet from the top. Then Rainey leaned over the edge and looked at me. Concern spread like butter across her face. "Oh, I prob-ly won't get it. I wish ... I wish I had wings and flied around."
"Oh. Really? Like an airplane? Like a bird?" I bit my lip and turned my head to the wall, heartsick, knowing the wings she wanted couldn't possibly come true. Not even Santa could pull that one off.
"Like a angel." I heard Rainey lay back on her pillow.
"Gee, rain. I don't know if that one can happen. I used to wish the same thing when I was little. But I've had dreams where I've been flying. Have you ever had one of those? You're high up over the trees and the buildings and it feels like you can do anything at all, like nothing is impossible?"
"No." Rainey sniffled. The room was growing darker.
"You should tell Mama about the wings," I said. "You know if she can help it come true, she will. Remember how she put you in the Olympics and you won that pretty medal for running? 'Member that?"
"Yeah, I 'member."
My sister and I stopped talking after that and settled in for sleep. Knowing Rainey, she was praying even harder for her wings, never minding she couldn't get them.
In the bottom bunk, I lay there trying to remember that feeling, what it felt like to fly. And I fell asleep hoping, just maybe, I'd have one of those carefree, light-as-air flying dreams again, like I used to when I was much younger than the wise old age of eight-and-a-half. For some reason, I suspected my wings were too short to ever catch air and lift me off the ground-that some children, no matter how hard they try, will never fly.
Chapter TwoThe Smartest Macy
"It'll be all right, Mama. Promise it will."
Grandma Mona and me were watching Mama's face twist and curl in our tiny bathroom. It had a daisy shower curtain and matching soap dish, making it strangely cheery for such a dark day. We were sort of like good cop, bad cop, Grandma Mona and me. I was the good one. Hard to be bad when you're only eight. I would say something nice and Grandma Mona would say something nasty. Mama could form no real words at all, but for sure, she wasn't happy. There was a blue vein bulging in her left temple, and she was frozen, holding that little white stick. Like a wand. Like a little magic wand that would change everybody's world with just one swoosh of the wrist.
Normally, my mama was the prettiest lady I'd ever seen, blue eyes, Creamy white skin. Other folks thought it, too, giving her looks in the restaurant, in the grocery store. In the small town of Cypresswood, South Carolina, most everybody was invisible, melting in with everybody else. Except for Mama. Nobody was prettier than her. Some ladies didn't like her so much because of it. Maybe they worried their men might take a liking to Mama more and want to trade them in for her. But Mama wasn't like that. She wasn't after anybody's man. 'Fact, she hadn't loved anybody except me and Rainey since the day my daddy left four years ago.
Mama might have been pretty, but it never went to her head. She thought her hair was too flat and wished it had some wave. Every now and again she got pink lipstick stuck on her front tooth or had it all cockeyed off one lip or the other. And she thought the ladies who drove those pink Cadillacs in Fervor, the ones who knew how to put on makeup right and such, were the ones to envy, not her. but those Fervor ladies never saw my mama sitting up late at night, rocking a scared Rainey who'd had a bad dream. They never saw her early in the mornings making smiley face pancakes and trying to cheer up her sad daughters and take our minds off Daddy, right after he left. No, no one ever saw that side of Mama. But I did. And sometimes when she was wearing a nice dress and had her face put on just right, I looked at Mama and got this feeling down deep in my chest-a feeling like I wished somebody would just walk on by and I could say, "That's my mama, and someday I'm gonna be just like her."
Right now Mama didn't look anything like that. Her blonde hair framed a tired face that was growing longer by the second. Her skin was all stretched back like it was tied behind her ears, and she was screaming. Not for joy neither. Scared me half to death. I wished I could save her, but it's not like there was blood or anything, something I could stick a band-Aid on. I plugged my ears with my fingers and leaned my head against the cold hard wall. Hoping it would pass. "There, there, Mama." She rarely hollered, if ever.
"Well, isn't this just fitting," said Grandma Mona when the screaming died down. "This calls for a celebration, dear. Why don't I go pour you a nice gin and tonic?"
"Let me see," I said, shooting Grandma Mona one of her own nasty looks. She got the hint and left us alone. Mama set the stick on the counter and I leaned over, studying it. I stared at the picture on the box. A minus sign meant not pregnant. A plus sign, pregnant. My mother was definitely pregnant. I covered my mouth. It couldn't be. Daddy'd been gone for four years now. I figured maybe there was a mistake. Then I thought about it some more and thought maybe Mama had taken one of those ladies' men, just like they'd worried about. Maybe she'd done it down at the pancake house or somewhere when Rainey and I weren't looking. I was shocked my own mama could be so naughty. But then I thought on it some more and knew my mama wasn't naughty, maybe just forgetful on how babies were made. So then I was just shocked thinking about a new baby being in our house.
My legs went jelly, so I sat down on the cold edge of the tub. I felt like I was floating, like my spirit might fly right off. Mama dropped the stick in the trash can and it made a clunk noise like a jail cell door. "How could this happen?" she said, trancelike.
"It happens." Grandma Mona popped her head back around the door. "How do you think it happens? Good gracious, child, you ought to know how it happens by now."
At eight-and-a-half-years-old, I didn't know everything, but being the smartest girl in the Macy family, I knew a few things, like, never climb onto a strange, mangy dog, even if he does look like he's smiling. My sister, Rainey, learned that the hard way, and she lost the tip of her right pinkie finger too. Had to get the shots and everything. I say I was the smartest Macy girl because my sister, she was older than me and she was smart, but she was special, you know, and sometimes could only grasp so much. Well then there was Mama. I guessed I was smarter than her now, too, because another thing I knew was, you can have babies just by kissing a boy. Why, every time on TV somebody was kissing, there wound up being a baby. Mama should have kept her lips to herself because she had two children already, but maybe she forgot how you make babies. She must have because she'd gone and done it again. Didn't look too happy about it, neither.
"That's good," I said, patting Mama on the back. She was straddling the commode and quiet now. "Just take a deep breath. I'm sure it's not so bad."
My mother stared at floating dust. Her shoulders dropped low as if a heavy little devil and angel were sitting on either side. Then the devil and angel began to jump, and Mama's shoulders bounced up and down with them, keeping rhythm.
"How did this happen?" She wailed again and put her head on the counter beside the sink. She banged it a couple times, then rolled it from side to side, her arms falling limp past the toilet paper roll down to the floor. "How could I let this happen again? What kind of mother aaaam IIII?"
I didn't want this.
"Mama, it's not your fault you're pregnant." Hearing that word pregnant come out of my mouth made me want to crawl in a hole. And then hearing how dumb I sounded, I added, "Well, you didn't do it by yourself, anyway. Somebody musta kissed you back. Or maybe they kissed you when you weren't expecting it-surprised you or some such. Could have been like sleeping beauty and the prince, you know. She had no warning from him whatsoever. Just snuck up on her and boom!"
"Oh, thank you," said Grandma Mona. "That's just what I wanted, Janie. A nice little picture in my mind of your mother being with a man. Lovely. And for an eight-year-old girl to know all this. I swanny. Just a disgrace." She walked away, sputtering and leaving a trail of venom behind her like snail slime.
"I'm eight-and-a-half!" I hollered.
"What's wrong, Mama?" My sister, Rainey, heard the commotion and filled the doorway, her hair still mussed up from sleeping. She had her hands covering her ears for the noise. She was eight years older than me but seemed more like my age, except for her body was a grown-up's. Go figure. I wasn't sure why they called it Down syndrome. They should have called it "Up" or something. Rainey was the most loving, positive, excited person I knew. She was like our Labrador puppy Bitsy was, always wagging her tail, just happy to be alive. Until she got run over, that is.
Anyway, Rainey saw joy in everything ... unless she was scared or bothered or mad. "What's wrong?" she asked again.
"Oh, nothing, honey-"
"She's pregnant," said Grandma Mona.
"What's pregnant?" Rainey asked. Strangers had a hard time making out her words sometimes, but I'd been with her for so long, I had no trouble at all. Sounded more like "whad-ped-nat?"
Mama looked shocked at hearing the word. "It means having a baby," said Mama, holding her middle and looking like somebody kicked her in the stomach.
"A baby?" Rainey's face lit up like sunshine. "Oooh, we get the baby! Goodie!"
"No, Rainey, it's not a good thing," Mama said, straightening up. "It is not a good thing for an unmarried woman with no money and a crappy job to get pregnant."
"Oh." Rainey's eyes flitted from Mama to me. Understanding crossed her flattened face, and she looked at her shoes. "Mama bad. You the bad girl."
"No, no. I'm not a bad girl, Rainey. I just ... I don't know how this happened ..." Tears began streaming down Mama's face, and she excused herself to the kitchen for some water.
Excerpted from Saving Cicadas by Nicole Seitz Copyright © 2009 by Nicole Seitz. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Nicole Seitz weaves enchanting tales of redemption filled with unforgettable characters and a refreshing Southern voice. She lives near Charleston, South Carolina,with her husband and two children. Twitter @nicoleseitz, facebook.com/pages/Nicole-Seitz/121816365611?ref=nf
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After reading the first three chapters I wondered why I was reading it. The characters compelled me to go on. I am so glad that I did. It is a wonderful book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The plot is a little strange and it took some unexpected twists and turns, but it was definitely worth it. I would recommend this to anyone. I can't wait for someone else I know to read it so we can talk about it.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I had never heard of either the book or the author, but I was in the mood for a fiction book rather than another non fiction one. It took me awhile to pick it up and read it. I'm glad I did, however. It was a very compelling story. I liked that it dealt with "real" people. So often Christian novels are centered around perfect families, where everything ends perfectly. That's just not real life sometimes. The book dealt with a controversial issue (abortion) in a very effective way. We all come from imperfect families (if we're honest), so it was interesting to read about this family's dynamics and how they dealt with the past and moved on from it. The story was told from various family members' views. It went from a child's perspective to the grandmother's perspective, for example. It was interesting to read the events from two totally different views. The characters were wonderful and well developed. I was very pleasantly surprised by this story. It was a quick read, but a pretty enjoyable one. http://erikadawn.wordpress.com
Saving Cicadas is a book unlike any book that I've ever read. It's the story of a single mother, Priscilla Macy, who learns she has become pregnant with a third child. She packs her family, 8 year old Janie, 17 year old Rainey who has Down Syndrome, Mom Mona, and Father Poppy, into the car and begins a journey of searching for answers, and for the father of her children who got on his motorcycle one day and left them alone. The story is told by Priscilla's youngest daughter, 8 year old Janie, who is wise beyond her years and Grandmother Mona, who is Priscilla's mother. It's a little bit difficult at times to differentiate between the two narrators, but it didn't take away from the story for me. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. It was a very quick read for me, mostly because I couldn't put it down. There's a bit of a surprise twist at the end that you'll have to read to find out. Thomas Nelson Publishers provided me with a free copy of this book to review. All opinions are solely mine and are not influenced in any way.
Saving Cicadas by Nicole Sietz is the story of Priscilla Macy, the single mother of two daughters, who is pregnant and unsure what to do about it. The journey she embarks on with her family is her only hope of finding herself and the answers she desperately seeks. Their journey takes them into the past, exposes the truth of their present and has a profound effect on their future. Saving Cicadas may well be the most unique book I've ever read. I will be honest, there were moments when I hated this book. Having finished, I'm a little undecided. This is not the first time I've experienced a shocking twist in a novel, but I don't know that I have ever felt betrayed, and that is the only word that comes to mind. I appreciate what the author was trying to do, I'm just not in love with the way she went about doing it. Ultimately, I think the true test of a work of fiction is the author's ability to draw you into the story. I cannot deny her skill in creating characters that you can't help but love, and her ability to weave a story that you can't put down until you know just how it all works out in the end. Thomas Nelson has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.
Saving Cicadas had me wrapped up in the lives of an unforgettable family, and I couldn't put this book down until I was finished. All the characters captured my attention - there is 8 year old Janie, her 17 year old sister Rainey with Down Syndrome, their mother Priscilla who is unhappily expecting another baby, and a set of rather peculiar grandparents. Spending time with the characters in this book was intriguing, the family dynamics were always changing and totally unpredictable, and individual family members were entirely believable. This is the story of a summer in the lives of this unconventional family as they strive to discover the truth about their past, their beliefs and how these truths will shape their future. "Part road trip, part mystery, and completely unexpected, Saving Cicadas picks you up in one place and puts you down someplace else entirely. It's an eloquent reminder that life is a miracle - and even the smallest soul is a gift." Very deep issues are brought to the surface in this book, and you will never look at these controversial topics in the same way after reading this story. The first several chapters seemed very slow and I almost didn't continue, but I am so glad that I did. The beginning chapters were needed to lay the groundwork for the story, and I am so glad I didn't give up. Although classified as fiction, and with a lot of fantasy rolled in, it is a great story that I won't be forgetting for a very long time. Overall, I would give this book a rating of 5 out of 5 stars, or even higher. Read this book, you won't regret it! I am a member of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program at http://brb.thomasnelson.com
"Saving Cicadas picks you up in once place and puts you down in someplace else entirely." I honestly have to say I agree with this statement. Please note that I also do not necessarily think this is a good thing. First and foremost, however, I have to applaud Nicole Seitz for taking on subject matter that is most often ignored. As a woman who struggled with infertility and lost a child, I am probably more sensitive to the subject of abortion than others. Nicole Seitz chooses to take this subject and tackle it head on. She does not shy away from expressing her complete distaste for this practice in the novel. That being said, she also does not spend the entire novel condemning her own character for making the decision once and considering the decision a second time. Seitz gives great insight into the struggle to make a decision as weighty as that one and also the grief and guilt that can come from choosing to abort a child as opposed to having him/her. From the opposite side, the issue I have with Saving Cicadas is in the execution. The transition from chapter to chapter was choppy and a bit confusing at times. Also, Seitz has a tendency in this novel to set up the end of a chapter with a climactic lead into the next, with the delivery of the climax falling flat. Once could have been overlooked, but she chose to do this multiple times throughout the novel. In addition, 8 1/2 year old Janie Doe Macy is wise beyond her years. The narrative in most of the chapters is intended to come from her point of view. As it was written, I had to keep checking to see if it the chapter was in Janie's point or Mona's, as there was no real differentiation between the voice of the two characters. If the majority of the story was to come from the eyes of a child, this mark between the viewpoints should have been more defined. In the end, I land on the fencepost in my opinion of Saving Cicadas. The first two parts are slow and were a struggle to complete, with the third part almost making up for it. Notice the almost. I usually recommend a book based on the likelihood that I will read it again. With only one third of the novel keeping my interest, it is not very likely that I would choose to read this a second time. The ending was fantastic but getting there was not half the fun. This book was provided free of charge by the publisher as a review copy. The publisher had no editorial rights or claims over the content or the conclusions made in this review. Visit www.thomasnelson.com for more information on this book.
Single mother Priscilla Lynn Macy's life suddenly turns upside down when she discovers she is expecting another child. In a desperate attempt to escape the past and find a future, she packs up her two daughters and her parents for a road trip. Priscilla, her seventeen year old special needs daughter Rainy Dae Macy, eight and a half year old Janie Doe Macy, father Poppy and mother Grandma Mona set out on a road trip to find the answers Priscilla seeks and a future for them all. The last trip they will ever take together, although they don't know it at the time. Along the way old secrets, and past problems come to light, answering some questions while raising others. Nicole Seitz keeps you guessing right to the very end. As family secrets slowly emerge, you connect with each of the characters making it easy to feel the pain, love, happiness and sadness of each character. Nicole Seitz gives us an close up and personal look at heartbreaking situations and difficult decisions many women deal with in life from a whole new set of eyes. I would recommend giving this book a read. I found myself unwilling to put the book down any more than I had to. I laughed and cried all the way through the book and formed a real attachment to each of the characters. My advice: If you read this book, keep the tissue box handy! I am a member of the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger Program : http://brb.thomasnelson.com
Have you ever wanted to just chuck it all? You know, today you wake up and life is way too much to handle. So why not just make the change? Jump in the car and go? I know that I have felt that way, but never made that leap. While reading Saving Cicadas I felt a kinship with Priscilla Lynn Macy who learns she's having another child unexpectedly so she packs the family into the car to escape. In doing so she takes her family (we can not runaway without them) on a road trip. Of course this turns into a mystery and takes us on an unexpected journey. I have to say I enjoy twist and turns in a story. And being reminded that we all count. Even the very smallest of us all. Nicole Seitz has used her Southern spirit to create full characters and a story of redemption. I feel it would be a good book for a teenager and older. Nicole Seitz is the author of The Spirit of Sweetgrass and 3 other stories as well as a freelance writer/illustrator who has published in numerous South Carolina magazines. Nicole shows her paintings in the Charleston, South Carolina, where she owns a web design firm. And she is like so many of us, a wife and mother.
This story will touch your heart especially at the end- it is a story of a child and a mother and their family. It deals with the issue of abortion and is such a redemptive story. This was such a moving story! I would highly, highly recommend this book to my girlfriends. Once I started this book I didn't want to put it down. There are a couple of moments in the end that are surprising and the end will rock your world!!
I did not know where this story was going for sure, but the ending took me by surprise and touched a subject that is dear to my heart. Our nation is divided over the issue that is revealed, but the truth is greater than the lie.