The truck driver let me off on Lamartine, on the odd side of the street. I felt odd too, standing in the town where my mother lived. For the first seven years of my life, we hadn’t even lived on the same continent, and now she waited only a few houses away.
Why didn’t you have the truck driver let you off right in front of her house? Poppa’s voice echoed peevishly in my head, as if he were the one having to navigate alone in the dark.
“I have to creep up on her,” I whispered, unwilling to disturb the extreme quiet of midnight, “otherwise my heart might explode.”
What’s her house number?
“1821,” I told him, noting mailboxes of castles and pirate ships and the street numbers painted on them. I had to fish my penlight from my pack to see the numbers; streetlights were scarce, and the sky bulged with low, sooty clouds instead of helpful moonlight.
Portero sat in a part of East Texas right on the tip of the Piney Woods; wild tangles of ancient pine and oak twisted throughout the town. But here on Lamartine, the trees had been tamed, corralled behind ornamental fences and yoked with tire swings.
“It’s pretty here, isn’t it?”
Disturbingly pretty. said Poppa. Where are the slaughterhouses? The oil oozing from every pore of the land? Where’s the brimstone?
“Don’t be so dramatic, Poppa. She’s not that bad. She can’t be.”
No? His grim tone unnerved me as it always did when he spoke of my mother. Rosebushes and novelty mailboxes don’t explain her attitude. I never imagined she would live in such a place. She isn’t the type.
“Maybe she’s changed.”
“Then I’ll make her change,” I said, passing a mailbox shaped like a chicken—1817.
How had I gotten so close?
A few short feet later, I was better than close—I was there: 1821.
My mother’s house huddled in the middle of a great expanse of lawn. None of the other houses nestled chummily near hers; even her garage was unattached. A lone tree decorated her lawn, a sweet gum, bare and ugly—nothing like her neighbors’ gracefully spreading shade trees. Her mailbox was strictly utilitarian, and the fence that circled her property was chin high and unfriendly.
Ah. said Poppa, vindicated. That’s more like it.
I ignored him and crept through the unfriendly gate and up the porch steps. The screen door wasn’t locked—didn’t even have a lock—so I let myself into the dark space and sat in the little garden chair to the left of the front door. I sat for a long time, catching my breath. I sat and I breathed. I breathed and I sat—
Stop stalling, Hanna.
My hands knotted over my stomach, over the swarm of butterflies warring within. I gazed at the dark length of the front door, consumed with what was on the other side of it. “Do you think she’ll be happy to see me?” I asked Poppa. “Even a little?”
Not if you go in with that attitude. Where’s your spine?
“What if she doesn’t believe I’m her daughter?”
You look exactly like her. How many times have I told you? Now, stop being silly and go introduce yourself.
Poppa always knew how to press my “rational” button. “You’re right. I am being silly.” I straightened my dress, hitched up my pack, marched to the front door, and raised my fist to—
NO. The force of the word rattled my brain. Don’t knock. It’s after midnight. You’ll wake her up, and she awakens badly.
“How badly?” I whispered, hand to my ringing skull.
As badly as you.
Nine times out of ten, I awoke on my own, naturally, even without an alarm clock, but if I was awoken before I was ready, things could get ? interesting. And apparently, I’d gotten that trait from my mother.
Just let yourself in. said Poppa, his advice rock solid as always. It’s practically your house anyway.
I crouched on the porch, the wood unkind to my bare knees, and folded back the welcome mat. A stubby bronze key glinted in the glow of my penlight.
A spare key.
“Only in a small town,” I whispered, snatching it up.
I unlocked the door and slipped inside.
A red metallic floor lamp with spotlights stuck all over it stood in the center of the room. One of the spotlights beamed coldly—as though my mother had known I was coming and had left the light on for me.
Aside from the red chrysanthemums in a translucent vase above the sham fireplace, and the red throw pillow gracing the single chair near the floor lamp, the entire living room was unrelievedly blue-white.
Modern, the same style Poppa had liked—
Still likes. he said.
—and so I immediately felt at home.
My hopes began to rise again.
I slipped the spare key into the pocket of my dress as I traveled down a short hallway, my French heels clicking musically against the blond wood floor. I put my ear to each of the three doors in the hall, until a slow, deep breathing sighed into my head from behind door number three.
My mother’s breath. Soothing and gentle, as if the air that puffed from her lungs was purer than other people’s.
I stood with my head to the door, trying to match my breath to hers, until my ear began to sting from the pressure.
I regarded the door thoughtfully. Fingered the brass knob.
No, I told you. Poppa was adamant. You need to entice her out of bed.
“I know how to do that,” I whispered, the idea coming to me all at once.
I stole into the kitchen and turned on the light near the swinging door. The kitchen, like the living room, was blue-white, with a single lipstick-red dining chair providing the only color, aside from me in my violet dress.
I dumped my purple bag by the red chair and went exploring, and after I learned where she kept the plates, the French bread, and the artisanal cheese, I decided to make grilled-cheese sandwiches. I took no especial pains to be quiet—I wanted her company. I’d traveled more than one hundred miles in three different crapmobiles and an eighteen-wheeler full of beer just to bask in her presence, but it wasn’t until I plated the food that she shoved through the kitchen door.
My grandma Annikki once told me that anyone who looked on the face of God would instantly fall over dead. Looking at my mother—for the first time ever—I wondered if it was because God was beautiful.
I had the same hourglass figure, the same hazel skin, the same turbulence of tight, skinny curls; but while my curls were a capricious brown, hers were shadow black.
Island-girl hair. Poppa whispered admiringly.
I averted my eyes and presented the sandwiches, like an offering. “Do you want any?”
She drifted toward me in a red sleep shirt and bare feet, seeming to bend the air around her. Her mouth was expressive, naturally rosy, and mean. Just like mine. Our lips turned down at the corners and made us look spoiled.
“You broke into my house to fix a snack,” she said, testing the words, her East Texas drawl stretching each syllable like warm taffy. “I better be dreaming this up, little girl.”
“It’s no dream, Rosalee. I’m here. I’m your daughter.”
Her hands clutched her sleep shirt, over her heart, otherwise she didn’t move. Her oil black eyes raked me in a discomfiting sweep.
“My daughter’s in Finland,” she said, the words heavy with disbelief.
“Not anymore. Not for years. I’m here now.” I reached out to touch her or hug her—any contact would have been staggering—but she stepped away from my questing hands, her mean mouth twisting as she spoke my name.
“God.” She seemed to recognize me then, her gaze softening a little. “You even have his eyes.”
“I know.” I marveled over the similarities between us. “Not much else, though.”
Rosalee looked away from me, tugging at her hair as if she wanted to pull it out. “How could he let you come here? Alone. In the middle of the night. Did he crack?”
“He died. Last year.”
She let her hair fall forward, hiding from me, so if any grief or regret touched her face, I didn’t see it.
After a time, Rosalee stalked past me and stood before the picture window. “If he died last year,” she said, “why come to me now? How’d you even know where to find me?”
I sat in the red chair, clashing violently in my purple dress. “I stole your postcard from Poppa’s desk when I was seven, the month before we moved to the States.” I went into my pack for the postcard. It was soft, yellowed with the years. On one side was a photo of Fountain Square, somewhere here in Portero. On the back was my old address in Helsinki, and in the body of the card, the single word “NO.”
I showed it to her. “What were you saying no to?”
Rosalee glanced at the postcard but wouldn’t touch it. She settled herself against the window, her back to the lowering sky. “I don’t remember what question he asked: to marry him, to visit y’all, to love y’all. Maybe all three. No to all three.”
I put the postcard away. “When Poppa and I moved to Dallas, the first thing I did was go to the public library and look up your name in the Portero phone book.”
I’d gotten such a thrill seeing her name in stark black letters, Rosalee Price, an actual person—not a legend Poppa had made up to comfort me whenever I wondered aloud why other kids had mothers and I didn’t.
“I memorized your address and phone number. For eight years I recited them to myself before I went to sleep, like a lullaby. I didn’t bother to contact you, though. Poppa had warned me what to expect if I tried. That’s why I just showed up on your doorstep—I didn’t want to give you a chance to say no.”
She regarded me with a reptilian stillness, unmoved by my speech. “Who’ve you been staying with since he died?”
“His sister. My aunt Ulla.”
“She know you’re here?”
“Even our feet are the same.”
I took off my purple high heels and showed her my skinny feet—the long toes and high arches. Exactly like hers.
“I asked you about your aunt,” said Rosalee, still unmoved.
I admired the sight of our naked feet, settled so closely together, golden against the icy sheen of the kitchen tile.
“I didn’t even know I looked like you. I figured I did. Poppa told me I did. I knew I didn’t look like anybody on Poppa’s side of the family. They’re all tall and blond and white as snow foxes. And here I am, tallish and brunette and brown as sugar. Just like you. My grandma Annikki used to say if I hadn’t been born with gray eyes, no one would have known for sure that I belonged to them. And I did belong to them, but I belong to you, too. I want to know about you.”
That Sally Sunshine act won’t work on her. Poppa warned.
But it was working. As I spoke, Rosalee’s gaze remained focused on me, her unswerving interest startling but welcome in light of her antagonism.
“Poppa told me some things. He’d tell me how beautiful you were, but in the same breath, he’d curse you and say you were dead on the inside. So I’ve always thought of you that way—an undead Cinderella, greenish and corpselike, but wearing a ball gown. Do you even have a ball gown? I could make one for you. I make all my own clothes. I made this dress. Isn’t it sweet?” I stood so she could admire it. “I always feel like Alice when I wear it. That would make this Wonderland, wouldn’t it? And you the White Rabbit—always out of reach.”
“Why do you have blood on your dress?”
Her intense scrutiny made sense now. She hadn’t been interested in me, but in my bloodstains. I followed her gaze to the two dark smidges near my waist.
Sally Sunshine and her bloodstained dress. said Poppa, disappointed in me. I told you to change clothes, didn’t I?
I fell back into the red chair, the skirt of my dress flouncing about my knees, refusing to let Poppa’s negativity derail me.
“What makes you think that’s blood? That could be anything. That could be ketchup.”
“That ain’t ketchup,” Rosalee said. “And this ain’t Wonderland. This is Portero—I know blood when I see it.”
I nibbled my food silently.
“Whose blood is that?”
Tell her. Poppa encouraged. I guarantee she won’t care.
“It’s Aunt Ulla’s blood,” I said. “I hit her on the head with a rolling pin.”
I risked another glance into her face. Nothing.
“And?” Rosalee prompted.
Did she want details?
“Aunt Ulla’s blood spurted everywhere, onto my dress, into my eyes.” I blinked hard in remembrance. “It burned.” I fingered the smidges at my waist. “I thought I’d cleaned myself up, but apparently—”
“Hanna.” Despite her apathy, Rosalee addressed me with an undue amount of care, as though I were a rabid dog she didn’t want to spook. “Did you kill your aunt?”
I ate the last bit of grilled cheese. I licked the grease from my fingers. “Probably.”
© 2010 Dia Reeves
|Sold by:||SIMON & SCHUSTER|
|Lexile:||HL710L (what's this?)|
|File size:||2 MB|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Bleeding Violet is the most bizarre and amazing book I have read this year. I am not exaggerating when I say that you will literally be reading this book and suddenly say "What the F$*&?!" out loud. This town that Dia has created (Portero, Texas) is full of monsters (too many to even mention), a suicide door, portals to other locations, and a very shady history. This town has enough crazy to go around...enter Hanna. Hanna is crazy...no literally she is crazy. She is a little strange and hallucinating about her dead father is just the icing on the cake. Hanna is obsessed with purple (hence the title). She even makes her own purple dresses and never goes out in anything but one of her dresses and a pair of heels. Hanna comes to Portero to keep from being sent to an institution. When Hanna shows up on her Rosalie's (her mother's) door step it is clear that Hanna is not welcome. But Hanna is stubborn and will not take no for an answer. When Hanna starts school she immediately realizes that there is defiantly something strange about this town. Why does everybody wear black? Why does everyone wear earplugs in class? Oh but wait, not everybody is in all black. Wyatt appears on the scene in all of his gorgeousness wearing a lovely shade of green and kicking some major monster butt. Hanna is immediately determined to become a fixture in his life. Turns out, Wyatt is a member of a group called the Mortmaine, a group of hunters that protects Portero. Despite all of the killing, fighting, and literally being eaten going on it is amazing that Hanna and Wyatt find time to fit romance into the mix. I feel the need to once again say how incredibly insane this book is (wait until you read the naked by the lake scene) but it is also amazing once you finish it. Oh and the cover art is fantastic! How can you not pick it up off the shelf? FYI - this book is more mature then your average YA book. Hanna and Wyatt have a sexual relationship and some scenes are a little bloody/graphic. If you love it as much as I did you will be happy to know that Dia Reeves is releasing another book set in the crazy town of Portero, Texas. Slice of Cherry will be out January 2011! New characters same crazy town! I cant wait! http://bringmeanotherbook.blogspot.com/
Dark and enchanting. This book was amazing and interesting and romantic. The book had surprises and twist and it was very different from what I usually read. This book ended to where I didn't need another book although I wouldn't mind there being another. The characters were shown great in the book and I loved everything about the main character even her hallucinations which were actually pretty cool. This book is something you would definetly want to read.
Very entertaining. Dont listen to the negative reveiws. Their just haters. If ur a person that liikes spooky books youll love this!!
Okay let me start by saying this book was AMAZING!!! The main character, Hanna, is crazy...literally crazy! I could not put this book down! I finished it in one day and I totally recommend it for anyone who likes books that are fast paced, has a lot of paranormal stuff and a little love story thrown in. Definitely fun and worth the money!
I love this book i have read it many times and not once has it bored me :) Its a MUST READ!
Remember when I said how excited I was to review this one? Remember? Well. I lied. This book is actually a pain in the rear end to review, because is just so darn weird. And in my book in YA at the moment, with dozens and dozens and dozens of books that start to look exactly the same, weird = awesome. This is the kind of book I'd recommend to my special friends, the ones who understand that just because I read a book about a girl who decides to paint the walls with her own blood does not mean I should be committed to a psych ward. The ones who would understand the deep and indestructible bond that has been forged between me and Portero in this book and would fantasize about all the ways we'd prove our non-transy-pants-ness to Hanna, Wyatt, and the rest of the Porterenes when we move there. Seriously, while I don't do "best-of" lists - there are just too many factors at play - if I had to do a "most memorable" list, this book would blow the competition out of the water. The other reason I can't review a book like this? Every time I start thinking of something bad to say about it, my brain counteracts it with wild admiration of Dia Reeves's bravery in writing this. It's the Donnie Darko of the book world, violent, uncomfortable, just plain effed up. Unlike Donnie Darko, it's also very sexy, which considering that nine out of ten challenged books were challenged for sexual content, is the more dangerous move on the part of the author. I wouldn't exactly recommend that all sixteen-year-olds run around and be as crazy as Hanna by any means - it sure isn't a moral handbook - but it's utterly fresh in its daring, and the repressed rebel inside of me loved it. Also, Finland! A bicultural, biracial protagonist! Love! I finished reading this book, and even though she never even mentioned lefse I had to go have some. And then I lamented the fact that we don't have a sauna. I'm a Caucasian melting pot, and if there was one particular cultural identity I'd emphasize, it would absolutely be Finland, even though pigs will fly before I learn the language. My vocabulary currently consists of two words. Anyway, thank you Dia Reeves for giving that a shout-out in Hanna's character. If I was the kind of person who said squee - which, of course, I'm not - I would totally be squeeing right now. It's not the most well-written book I've read this year, but it's definitely one of the most wild, crazy, and fun.
BLEEDING VIOLET, by Dia Reeves, is a graphic and horrifying book about a town in Texas and a girl who stands on her own to fit in. The town of Portero (Spanish to English translation= Doorman), houses people who are not afraid of the unknown creatures of other worlds. There are doorways in this town that open to unimaginable terrors. Hanna is special girl. She has multiple ailments of the brain that no doctor can correctly diagnose. She is prescribed different pills for her symptoms, such as hallucinations. She moves to Portero to live with her estranged mother after her father passes away. Hanna's mixed up head makes her fit in better because she is not surprised by things that are beyond normal. I really got a kick out of Hanna. This book was strange in itself, so it needed a strong (and strange) character to make it believable. It took a few chapters for me to get the hang of her mentality but she definitely has a place in my heart now. Hanna and Wyatt made for a different kind of couple. In a way they were two halves of a whole. It was sweet that he accepted her so quickly after seeing how she reacted to the abnormal events in the town. Reeves is definitely a mastermind of creativity. The 'creatures' that Hanna and Wyatt came up against stretched my imagination to the limit. I loved how they became a dynamic duo in battling against those not from our world. Reeves put a lot into one book but she did it so perfectly when incorporating a killer plot into the mix. This is definitely a great book to explore waaay outside a typical YA comfort zone.
This book is very strange but also very good. Its about a girl who is bipoler, She runs away to a new town to find her mother, and also to escape from her aunt who was going to put her in a pyche-ward. What happens in the town? You're gonna have to find out yourself, lets just say I didn't see it comeing. I would reccomend this book to anyone who think's all teen books are the same.
It was very strange, and not at all what I was expecting, but I loved it. Can't wait to read Slice of Cherry now.
This book wraps up all kind of emotions such as family love and hatred.this is a great mystery book. I personaly love all of her books and hopes she writes more. If you loved this book then you should cheak out "Slice of Cherry"!!!!
worst book I've ever read.
Just like her first book slice of cherry, dia reeves has one again blew my mind and made another book to love. It has concept and is so good. I loved hannah and her mother and all the characters. and i love the fact that all of her books include lovable, twisted (in a good way) characters and a perfect misterious little town. Die reeves is by far my fsvorite author :) keep writing em girl!!
A little weird @ times, but still a great book
This book is amazing nd now that i have the nook its even better love love love it
From what i read from the preview, i defintely want to read it. But we've got to agree , hanna is kinda crazy. A must read
Bleeding Violet is one book you will love. Dia Reeves has earned the title for being my favorite author. Although she has only released two books, Bleeding Violet and Slice of Cherry, I have read both books and absolutely fallen in love with them, i anticipate another great 3rd book about another crazy girl spinning Portero more upside down than it already is
i actually enjoyed this book. A mixture of Alice in Wonderland with A hint of Twilight Zone. Amazing