Once upon a time (not very long ago), I was walking on a beach and saw this guy with a book in his hand. It was a book I had loved. In fact, I loved that author’s second and third books so I said as much.
The guy said, “That’s good to know but I only read first books of authors. I figure I can’t read all the books in the world but I might have a shot at all the first books.”
“Wow, that’s like a thousand first dates.”
He smiled. “Or a thousand first kisses.”
No doubt about it, first books of authors are really special. We toil over them not knowing if it will ever catch the eye of an editor. Never mind a reader.
I began my year digging into my towering TBR (to be read) pile and pulled out two first books. The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu and Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft. Both are gems.
Andreu’s book tells the tale of M.T. who, in her senior year of high school, believes she can have no future because her parents are illegal and she has no papers that allow her to stay in the U.S. Andreu weaves a beautiful story. What I loved especially is the MT’s relationship with her mother whom she loves but must break from in order to exit the dead end of an illegal life. It is a heartbreaking, beautiful glimpse into the invisible lives around us.
Wesselhoeft’s Adios, Nirvana takes us into the mind and heart of Jonathan who is still reeling from his twin brother’s tragic death, which Jonathan believes is his fault. This is a tale of redemption, of the bond between thicks (aka friends though that’s a pretty weak word for this brand of friends), of the muscular ability of music to lift you up (even as you fall out of a gorilla’s hand) and of connection in the most unlikely, death ridden places. Yeah, Wesselhoeft rocks this story seriously hard.
I think I’ll keep going with these first kisses. Sweet sixteen, the year of many first kisses.