From the author of Fingerprints of You, whom Judy Blume calls “a remarkable young novelist,” comes a “beautiful, atmospheric, and compelling” (Deb Caletti) novel that explores how one teen rebuilds her life after everything seems lost.
My father disappeared on a Tuesday that should’ve been like any Tuesday, but eventually became the Tuesday my father disappeared.
Tired of living in limbo, Callie finally decides to investigate her father’s disappearance for herself. Maybe there was an accident at the construction site that he oversaw? Maybe he doesn’t remember who he is and is lost wandering somewhere? But after seeing a familiar face in a photo from the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, she wonders if the answer is something else entirely.
About the Author
Kristen-Paige Madonia is the author of Fingerprints of You, and her short fiction has been published in the Greensboro Review, The New Orleans Review, American Fiction, and Five Chapters. She holds an MFA from California State University, Long Beach, and now lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with her husband and son. She teaches creative writing at the University of Nebraska, Omaha MFA program, the University of Virginia, and James Madison University. Visit her at KristenPaigeMadonia.com and @KPMadonia.
Read an Excerpt
Invisible Fault Lines
My father disappeared on a Tuesday that should’ve been like any Tuesday, but eventually became the Tuesday my father disappeared. It was April 18, 2006.
“Chicken piccata,” my mother said. “It’s Tuesday.” Because that’s what we ate midweek back then.
It was the year I knew things would change. The summer before, I helped start a band as the drummer. On New Year’s Eve, I got my nose pierced. SAT prep classes and cross-country running practice swapped places that spring with rock concerts and poetry slams. I hadn’t told anyone yet, but I’d decided I wanted to study abroad. I wanted to go places where I couldn’t speak the language, so I stashed my college catalogs under my bed and requested passport forms instead. I collected foreign-language dictionaries that I stacked in piles and stored on a shelf in my closet. Spanish. Turkish. Thai. It was the year we were supposed to go from teenagers to . . . not adults, exactly, but instead to that thing in between. It was April, and I was a junior, the last year before I had to commit to college or hold off, the last year before I was expected to decide exactly how the next four would go. A lot was supposed to change that year. But not my father. He’d never changed a day in my life until he disappeared.
• • •
Before, he did this: Awoke to his playlist of live concerts by The Who and the Stones and occasionally Stevie Nicks because sometimes, he said, a smoky, sorrowful love song is the best way to pull yourself out of your dreams. Coffee, black. One mug before and one mug after his shower, and he always, no matter what, ate toast with peanut butter in his pine-green bathrobe. A handful of raisins sprinkled on top. Quick change into dark-washed jeans, gray Vans, and a long-sleeved T-shirt because that was his favorite perk of his job—casual dress. Black wire-rimmed glasses and a small shot of orange juice while he organized his papers in his brown leather backpack. The juice glass was an antique, cut with a floral design from the twenties. We’d found the set when we cleaned out my grandmother’s condo in Chicago after she died the year before. Besides her Italian recipe books and photo albums, the glasses were the only things of hers he brought home. Glass rinsed and on the drying rack. Brown leather watch, set five minutes fast. Puffy North Face vest, navy blue with a small hole next to the left pocket—a cigarette burn from a friend’s Marlboro at a club in Chicago back when he was young. His forehead pressed against my forehead with toothpaste breath between us before he jabbed me in the ribs or plucked my ear. “Callie,” he’d say. “Be good, all right?” Or maybe, “Stay out of trouble.” A kiss on the nose for me, and then a kiss for my mother, too. Out the door, the sound of him locking it behind him. The 1BX bus, a direct shot to downtown San Francisco while he read Wired, National Geographic, or Popular Science. He worked in a high-rise corner office with a view in the morning and then at job sites around the Bay Area in the afternoon. Hard hats and soil samples. Backhoe digging. Water testing. Phase II site assessments. Meetings with people who wanted to build condos, who wanted to develop on top of land that had once been industrial buildings, and before that, a different kind of city, and before that, the Bay water.
• • •
My mother tossed the grated lemon peel and a handful of capers into the pan. “He’s just late, that’s all. No worries,” she said. Her feet were still encased in her work shoes, the thin white skin of her ankles pinched and pink inside the leather heels she’d bought off a clearance rack that fall. She was infinitely tired. Too tired for what-ifs. My mother worked in the library at UCSF, and in the spring she formatted and archived dissertations for grad students so they could be bound and shelved for reference. Her eyes were often mapped in red, her fingers sliced with paper cuts.
It was dinnertime on a Tuesday, and he was not home yet. He was working late, she said. He was running late or moving slow. No worries. The bus probably broke down. The job site probably took longer than he’d planned for.
• • •
Before, I did this: Awoke to the alarm on my nightstand. The White Stripes playing from my speakers, a quick IM to my best friend, Beckett, and one full mug of water after I brushed my teeth, but before my shower. The mug, brought back from Portland when Beckett visited his cousin the previous summer, was chipped above the coffeehouse logo, and sat on the counter next to the sink in my bathroom. Shower, quickly, after my father had had his turn and before my mother took hers, as to avoid risking cold water. Bell-bottom jeans, gray tank top, long-sleeved shirt, and my red zip-up hoodie. Wet hair knotted into a sloppy bun. Lip gloss and a quick brush of powder on my forehead and nose. My nose, small and ski-sloped like my mother’s—too small for my face, I’d always thought. Black mascara. My father’s dark Italian eyes, my favorite trait. Small gold necklace—the only piece of jewelry from my grandmother that I took when we cleaned out her condo in Chicago. The cornicello: an Italian horn-shaped pendant worn to protect against the evil eye. Read and reply to IM from Beckett. Cup of coffee in the kitchen, lots of cream and sugar. Explanation to Dad that coffee is simply a device to consume lots of cream and sugar. Piece of toast smothered with butter. Cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top after the butter has made the toast wet enough to turn the topping into warm brown goo. My forehead pressed against my father’s forehead with toothpaste breath between us before he jabbed me in the ribs or plucked my ear. Me telling him, “I’m always good,” and then the click of the lock behind him. The sound of my mother’s shower ending as the water flushed through the pipes, and then her calling “Bus in five minutes!” from behind their bedroom door. IM Beckett from my bedroom. Blue Converse high-tops with my last name, Pace, on the left shoe, inked next to a drawing of square buildings, star-shaped snowflakes, and a lamppost—a winter cityscape graffitied during biology class. On my right shoe, a treble clef, a black arrow pointing up, a small guitar, and our band name, Nothing Right, sketched after school in Golden Gate Park. My mother in the hallway with a question about my math test. Me, mentioning band practice that night. My mother with a question about college applications. Me, rambling about something that happened at work the day before. The thumping of The Clash in my headphones and an open front door. Me, asking about dinner.
“Chicken piccata,” my mother said. “It’s Tuesday.”
• • •
An hour after dinner, we called everyone we knew. Friends, coworkers, neighbors, poker-night players, and even the guy my dad bought bike parts from for his motorcycles. Forty-five minutes later we drove to his office, found it empty, and drove home. It took a million years to park the car because Wednesday morning was street sweeping, and every parking spot in every neighborhood close to our house was taken. Finally we found one, went back inside, and checked for phone messages. Again. Eventually, Beckett and his mom, Lori, came over. Eventually, we called the police.
Someone ordered a pizza with pineapple and ham—the leftover chicken was cold and half eaten in the pan on the counter. I cut my fingernails, let the clippings fly and scatter onto the hardwood floor. Mom changed from her work clothes to her sleep clothes, then back to her work clothes before the cops showed up. They talked to her and then they talked to me, but I didn’t talk to anyone after I talked to them, not for a long while. The words were there, thick jumbled things like rocks or cement pooling in my throat, choking me. I don’t know why, but suddenly words didn’t matter. There was nothing to say, really. Beckett ate pizza, and Lori made tea, and the police took notes and wrote down some phone numbers and left.
Beckett said, “Maybe it’s a joke. Maybe he’s planning some kind of surprise. Things like that happen all the time, you know.”
We sat in the kitchen at the small, square table, and our mothers sat in the living room on the other side of the wall. One of them was crying, but I couldn’t be sure which.
“Hidden Camera, maybe. Or Caught on Video. I think that show still exists, right?” he asked. “I bet that’s what it is.”
I shrugged, pulled a piece of ham off the pizza, and began shredding the meat into tiny strips I collected on the placemat.
“Maybe he’s helping someone. Someone homeless he saw on the bus. Or a kid who can’t find his mom, maybe,” he said.
It was almost midnight by the time I said, “I think he’s dead, Beck. I know it. He’s gone.”
“He is. He just . . . He is. He must be. I can feel it. He’s not here anymore. I can tell.”
I knew that when the cops asked, “Was anything out of the ordinary? Did he seem strange before he left for work? Did he seem distracted?” they meant that he’d left on his own. The thing is, when a grown-up disappears, people assume they made a choice to go. He’d gotten tired or restless and went looking for something more. Something different. He’d been fighting with his wife, with his boss, with his kid. He had a mistress. He had a plan. He had a midlife crisis.
Here’s what people assume: My father, Aaron Pace, decided to leave.
But here’s what I knew: Before he disappeared, there was nothing unordinary about us. Until that Tuesday, we were a perfectly normal family. And he never, not in a million years, would have walked away.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Not Just For YA A realistic, sensitive study of unexplained tragic loss from the perspective of the adolescent survivor and her parent. The author vividly and sensitively (and with an occasional spark of adolescent humor) presents the challenges and queries that have no resolution but effectively bring them together. A touching story not just for YA. It explores the commonality that brings us all together in the face of loss.
Loved this book! Madonia has such a unique, fresh voice, I couldn't put it down. Her characters have a way of drawing you in so you become invested in their story. Highly recommended!
Title: Invisible Fault Lines Author: Kristen-Paige Madonia Published: 5-3-2016 Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Pages: 320 Genre: Children's Fiction Sub Genre: Family Life; Natural Disasters; ISBN: 9781481430715 ASIN: B01675AFCO Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley My Rating: 5 Stars . My father disappeared on a Tuesday that should’ve been like any Tuesday, but eventually became the Tuesday my father disappeared. This is the one line that made me want to read this story even before I read the blurb on the book. After reading that there was no questions to be asked. I was definitely going to read this book. High expectations, yes, but the author met each and every one of them. Callie's father went off to work just like he did every other work day and promptly disappeared without a trace. It was a Tuesday and Callie's world came to a screeching halt. After she sees an exhibit of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake she begins to think there may be another explanation. At the exhibition Callie saw a photo that she would swear she saw her father in. Could it have been him or perhaps an ancestor of his? Could he have fallen into a time portal and been transported back to 1906? If so can he ever return? Told both from the man in 1906 and Callie's Point of View so that you can see how they intertwine. Callie's story grabbed me from the beginning and never let go? The story line is so intriguing and compelling. Once you pick this book up you will not want to put it down. You will be amazed at how real the characters seem they are so well done. The story sets a fast pace without feeling forced. I would gladly read more of Kristen-Paige Madonia's work and so will you. My rating of Invisible Fault Lines is 5 out of 5 stars.
I just finished. Awesome book! It really makes a person think. I was carried along very quickly and the story with the dad made me both sad and mad, not sure which was right. I loved all the San Francisco earthquake stuff, and the way she laced it into the current day dilemma. There were lots of layers in this story. I found they were very soulful, honest characters that made me want to know them in person. I'm sad it's over, and I wouldn't mind a sequel. Hint hint.
MY THOUGHTS I finished reading this book on the anniversary of the San Francisco earthquake on April 18. It was sort of eerie, reading the story as the news discussed the historical significance and devastation. It was even stranger that the main character, Callen, had just survived the devastating news that her father had disappeared. Cal is in her senior year of high school and thinks she has her life mapped out. She is the drummer in a rock band with her two best friends. Her mother is distraught but holding it together for Cal’s sake. As the days count off, Cal and her band are offered their first gig and while they are practicing each day. They do take time out to canvas the neighborhood, placing “Missing” posters and calling anyone and everyone they can think that might know what happened to her dad. You can just feel Cal’s heart being broken every day her father is gone. Cal just basically shuts out her mother and goes through the motions each day to survive. In her efforts to assign blame for her father’s disappearance, she see what she thinks is a picture of her father taken during the 1906 earthquake. As she obsesses about the photo, she spins into researching every detail about the quake and those details are explained in flashbacks. Overall, this is a nicely executed story that brings those feelings to the surface about how to cope with the sudden loss of a loved one. It was pretty heartwarming that Callen had the love of her mother and her friends. There is also a bit of a romance for her as well when an old school mate comes back to town, You need to read that part for yourself! Parents: mild sexual situations and some language, otherwise safe for most young teens.
moving YA novel of loss and hope: "it's a treacherous and wondrous thing to be needed, to be loved by and linked to another person's happiness so severely." author successfully walks a tightrope between the narrator's need for resolution to personal mystery/tragedy, and the ambiguous nature of the world.
Real life fiction of acute loss, love, the overlapping nature of time--with friendship, music, and San Francisco now and then.
Invisible Fault Lines tells Callie's story as she tries to make sense of the sudden disappearance of her father. One day she and her parents were a normal family and the next, her dad was gone without a trace and no one can give her or her mom any answers. It takes Callie some time but eventually she decides to investigate, along with the help of her friends, because she knows her dad would never leave them voluntarily. The search leads her down many roads and to some pretty out-there theories. But ultimately, it wasn't about the outcome. At least not for me. It was about Callie, her journey through all these overwhelming emotions and the people in her life like her mother, her best friend Beckett and a guy she connects with during this crazy time. As always, Madonia's depiction of Callie as she spirals from grief to denial to acceptance is spot-on and so very realistic. I loved Callie's narration immediately and just everything about her (cool thing to note: she's a drummer in a band!). I thought the entire book was such a honest take on showing how someone copes with a loss they can't explain and I really liked that it stuck to being ambiguous and open-ended. It allowed both Callie (and the reader) to decide what's next. Do I recommend? Obviously the answer is yes! I really admire when an author makes each book they release different and a unique reading experience. That's definitely the case here and I'm looking forward to seeing what's next!