Rosanne Parry came to the store on Sunday afternoon, May 22. It was a nice day, 60 degrees, the farmer's market was in full swing, the air was damp but not rainy.
This was such a fun event. She and her daughters played a little Pachelbel's Canon pre-talk and the audience was filled with family. We changed up the normal way of doing a stage event and circled the chairs around the mike, using monitors on the floor to direct the sound, making the space feel much more intimate.
Rosanne is a YA author from Portland, she has family up here, and her newest book is called Second Fiddle. It's a good book about a trio of girls, friends who play music together in Germany, the children of parents who are in the military. They are rehearsing for a contest in Paris and they think they might win! This will be the last time they play together, their parents are being reassigned, and Jody, our main character, will miss the others greatly. This is the first time she's been in one place long enough to actually make good friends and she is secretly writing a piece of music to honor them.
On their way home from the music master's, very disappointed because he is ill and will be in the hospital so unable to to take them to the contest, they try to figure out how to still make the trip.
While walking around on the "other" side of the Berlin wall, they watch Russian soldiers throw a beaten man into the river to die. Jody jumps into the river and drags him out, applies CPR, and tasting chemicals and oil, watches as he finally takes a breath and vomits. It turns out he had information he was sharing and the other soldiers were teaching him a lesson, probably assuming he would die and the problem would be gone.
Jody and the other girls hide him and give them what they can, deciding to come back in the morning with food and clothes. They get his story the next day: He is an Estonian citizen, forced into the military, and missing his family and country. All he wants to do is go home. And the girls figure that they can still get to the contest and help him get home: He will be the adult they need to register them and they will smuggle him into Paris and then to a Lutheran Church where he may be able to find other Estonian patriots.
That begins a great story of discovery, both of who Jody really is, and of the greater world in general. This is an adventure story for girls, smart girls who are able to figure out what to do and then how to do it.
I loved listening to Rosanne talk about the book and what didn't go into it. Her stories of being a soldier's wife in Germany, the stories told to her about the old German veterans and their naked, drunken runs through the streets (after trading their prosthetic limbs with each other) with an American soldier following behind (also naked, but with his own limbs!), how she decided on this time period. Besides being an amazing time, one that Americans will also know, there weren't cell phones or the internet, so the girls were on their own, pretty much unable to contact anyone. They had to be self-sufficient and figure things out.
It's a great book for libraries and classrooms, it's filled with talking points about differences and samenesses and whether we should we believe everything that people in power tell us. It's a good book for looking at research and why someone needs to do it.
The best thing about these book events is finding out the backstories, for every story or item that makes it into the book, there are tons that are left out - they are often the more interesting ones, the ones that are maybe a little over the top, and this is the only way to find out about those. It's all about the connections between people and their stories and how those stories change us all.