Pieces of Georgia

Pieces of Georgia

by Jen Bryant
Pieces of Georgia

Pieces of Georgia

by Jen Bryant


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Like her mother, Georgia McCoy is an artist, but her dad looks away whenever he sees her with a sketchbook. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what it was like when her mother was still alive . . . when they were a family . . . when they were happy. But then a few days after her 13th birthday, Georgia receives an unexpected gift–a strange, formal letter, all typed up and signed anonymous–granting her free admission to the Brandywine River Museum for a whole year. And things begin to change.
An accessible novel in poems, Pieces of Georgia offers an endearing protagonist–an aspiring artist, a grieving daughter, a struggling student, a genuine friend–and the poignant story of a broken family coming together.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440420552
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 11/13/2007
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 1,151,967
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 7.63(h) x 0.45(d)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Jen Bryant teaches Children's Literature at West Chester University. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter. She is currently at work on her next novel, which will be published by Knopf in 2008.

Read an Excerpt

Mrs. Yocum called me down to her office today. She's the counselor at school who I
have to go to once a week 'cause I'm on some "At Risk" list that I saw once on the secretary's desk.
(Ronnie Kline, Marianne Ferlinghetti, Sam Katzenbach,
Danita Brown—and some others I forget—are on it, too.)
Most of them have substance abuse next to their names,
but I have financial/single parent—father/possible medical?
next to mine.

Anyway, when Mrs. Yocum called me in, I sat in her big green chair, and she sat across from me in her big blue chair—
blinking at me like a mother owl through her oversize glasses—
and it all started off as it usually does,
with her asking me about my stomachaches and if I had raised my hand more often in class and if there was anything particular on my mind I thought
I needed to talk about.

Then all of a sudden she asked me if I
miss you. She never asked me that before, and I couldn't make the words come out of my mouth, they seemed to be stuck in my throat, or maybe they were just tangled up with the rabbit I seemed to have swallowed that started kicking the sides of my stomach,
desperate to get out.

I guess it must have been four or five minutes we sat there,
her making notes in her folder and me with that rabbit thrashing around my insides and still no words coming out.

I started to draw on the top of my binder,
like it seems I always do when I don't know what else to do, so I
didn't notice that she was trying to hand me a red leather notebook (this very one I'm writing in),
and she said: "Georgia, why don't we make a deal? I will excuse you from coming to Guidance for a while, provided—
you promise to write down your thoughts and feelings at least a few times a week in this diary. You don't have to show it to me, or to anybody,
unless you want to,
and it might be a good idea if you tried—sometimes, or all the time if you want—
to write down what you might tell, or what you might ask,
your mother if she were here."

So, Momma, that's how I've come to start writing to you in this pretty red leather diary that I keep in the drawer of my nightstand.
But I'm not sure what I'm going to tell you, 'cause my life is not all that interesting, but anyway it will fill a few minutes after school or maybe that half hour or so after dinner, after homework, after doing the dishes,
when I'm stretched out in the back of our trailer and Daddy is trying to keep the TV down so I can fall asleep but loud enough so he can still watch whatever game is on and I'm trying to remember what it was like six years ago when we were a family and Daddy was happy and you were here.

Today I turned thirteen.
As usual for mid-February, it snowed a little bit, then the sun came out like a tease, 'cause it never got above thirty-two degrees.

As usual, it was just me and Daddy having my birthday dinner at the fold-down table in the kitchen.
I said I could make chicken, baked potatoes, and peas,
but he brought home a pizza after work
(with anchovies and green peppers)
and we ate it right out of the box so it'd stay hot,
'cause it wouldn't fit inside our oven.

Then Daddy carried in a cake he'd been hiding in the closet, but when he uncovered it, he got mad because a heat vent was right next to it and the icing around the edges melted and the "Happy Birthday" ran all over the middle until it looked like a big pink puddle.

But I didn't mind. Last year he forgot my birthday altogether until he saw the mail and the annual
$20 bill from Great-Uncle Doug in Atlanta.
The cake was good—chocolate with chocolate icing.
I had seconds and Daddy did, too, and I know you would've joined us.

Afterward, I went through the mail and I
got a card and the $20 bill from Great-Uncle Doug.
The card had a clown and balloons and was really made for a little kid, but still,
it was nice of him to remember.

Daddy gave me those jeans I'd seen in the Army Navy Store,
a new pair of shoes,
and a "blank inside" card like he always does,
one with a flower on the front, same as always,
and his big, slanted lettering inside:


Happy Birthday.


Can I tell you something, Momma?

Every year since you died, I've been waiting for him to write Love, Daddy inside,
but after all this time
I think I should wake up and stop my dreaming.

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