Monte Killingsworth Equinox

ISBN 13: 9780805061536

Equinox

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9780805061536: Equinox
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Autumn struggles to keep her fractured family from leaving their island home -- and each other -- until she learns that love and change grow side by side.

"There are some things you don't have to think about, things that are simple and solid. Leaving this island is one of those. I can't leave the island. If I do, I will no longer be me."

Autumn and her parents live on a small island in the state of Washington. The slow, natural pace of her island home has always meant a great deal to Autumn, so when her father tells her that they must move to the commercial mainland, Autumn is devastated. Autumn sets out to prove to her parents how important it is for them to stay. In the course of creating an illustrated journal that highlights the wonderful things about the island, Autumn uncovers a secret about her mother that turns her world upside-down.

With poetic prose and deftly painted imagery, Monte Killingsworth tells the story of a fourteen-year-old girl in a time of upheaval, when what once seemed certain -- Autumn's island life, her parents' love for each other, her family's future -- all comes into question. But with those questions begins a new understanding: that simplicity can be misleading, and that loving may include letting go.

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About the Author:

Monte Killingsworth is the author of two other novels for middle grade readers: Eli's Song and Circle Within A Circle. An elementary school teacher, Monte lives with his family in Applegate, Oregon.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Equinox
Sundaysunday morninglow tide: 8:07 a.m. barometer: 29.32; falling 
 
I return to the forest and suddenly everything seems much more important: the yellow light, the sky, shadows dancing with the breeze. And behind me, the bay.I knew change was coming. 
 
Forrest came three times during the week and stayed late. I lay upstairs and listened to them talk. Their voices were low and they didn't laugh.I was surprised to see Mother's boat come into the bay on Thursday--a day early. Because of the weather, she said, though the sea was calm and the sky blue. Friday, Mother and I worked in the herb garden and then we made oatmeal cookies and cleaned the house together. Harley worked all day in his shop. I looked out there once in a while and saw him piling tools and stuff outside the door.I knew something was going on.For as long as I can remember, Harley and I havelived in a little log cabin down by the bay. Mother lives with us, too, but she goes to work on the big island--San Juan Island--every Monday morning and comes back on Friday afternoon. During the week she takes a hot bath at dawn, drinks espresso in a café, works late, and has a lot of meetings, then goes out to dinner with friends. These are things she can't do here.Mother has converted her office into a studio apartment with a folding futon, a little kitchen (kitchenette, she says), and a tiny deck with a view of the harbor. All around her apartment are watercolors of flowers she's painted, pots she's made, and books.Mother isn't exactly like Harley and me. 
 
What Harley likes to do best is work in his shop. From September to May, he is out there pretty much every day. He makes little wooden things like combs, barrettes, and mirrors. Sometimes he makes jewelry boxes and tables. And every year he builds a few dulcimers and rocking chairs.All his projects come from wood he finds on the island. It's sort of like recycling. Harley's boxes, dulcimers, and chairs were once fence posts, broken tree limbs, firewood, or roots. If someone tears down an old shack or has some scraps from building a house or if a piece ofyew turns up in a woodpile, you can bet Harley will be there soon, looking at the wood in his special way. Wandering around and gathering interesting pieces of wood is also one of Harley's favorite things to do.Mine, too.In the summer, Harley and I travel and sell all the stuff he makes. Almost every town in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho has a crafts fair or an art show and that's where we go. Uncle Bob lets us use his pickup to pull our trailer because we don't have a car or truck of our own. In every town where we set up our booth, Harley puts on his jester outfit and begins to juggle or do acrobatic tricks, and people come to buy. I work behind the counter, taking money and making change. The customers nearly always say the same things: "I've never seen wood this beautiful. Where'd you find it?" And, "That's your dad, isn't it? Boy, you two sure look alike." I suppose we do, in a general sort of way. Skinny. Not too tall. Blue eyes. Freckles. Blondish hair (Harley's is more red).By the end of summer the mirrors and jewelry boxes and chairs are all sold, the money box is full, and it's time to go home.I love this, this circle of our life. It's a special, simple, quiet way to live.But now everything is different. 
 
I thought at first maybe Mother was going to have a baby. They talked about it a long time ago, once, when I was supposed to be asleep. A brother or sister for Autumn is the way Harley put it. Now that I'm fourteen it seems a little late, but it did enter my mind, especially with Mother tidying up the kitchen and baking cookies and all that.Then I started to think Mother was really going to quit her job at the Whale Museum. It's something she says, although I don't think Harley takes her any more seriously than I do. Mother likes to paint and make pottery and work in the garden. She's taught herself to play the dulcimers Harley makes, and last year she traded some of her pottery for a harp. She loves to write and to walk, alone, down by the sea. Most of all, Mother loves to read. Our house is filled with books and she has read every one of them.Now and then Mother says she ought to just quit her job and write at home so she'd have more time for the things she loves. The museum is too hectic, she complains, and it's getting too big.Harley and I usually give each other a look. Partly because she's been saying the same thing for years andmostly because we know Mother and--let me put it this way--there are exactly zero espresso shops on our island and about the same number of bookstores. And nobody, especially Harley and me, could imagine the Whale Museum without Mother or Mother without the Whale Museum. They just go together. Anyway, I thought about her being here every day and didn't like the idea as much as I should have.I guess I was afraid everything might get all messed up. Harley is the world's easiest person to get along with and he lets me be who I am. It goes the other way, too. I sometimes make Harley something for lunch and take it out to him in the shop so he won't forget to eat. And I don't mind if he has sawdust in his ears or wears the same shirt all week or listens to Grateful Dead records real loud. I don't mind if he tells me stories I've heard before about when he was young and rode his motorcycle (that's where he got his nickname). I wasn't sure I wanted to give up the long weeks together, even if it meant I'd see Mother more.I look out across the bay. A little red-and-white Piper seaplane lifts off the green water and banks hard to the east. A gull struts around on the dock, picking at the old wood, looking for something to eat. The dock rises and falls as the wake from the Piper slants in. A few bigclouds move slowly across the sky; a steady breeze blows out of the south.I'm cold just sitting here so I decide to walk. I slide down the silver stump, pick up my stick and backpack, and start down the trail. Soon I'm out on the southern headland, high above the sea. Out here in the open, at the very edge of land, with the wind in my face, I let myself think about what Harley said at breakfast."It's time we left the island," his words hanging in the air. For some reason, I try to remember what my face did at that moment. Harley probably practiced that sentence so he could get it right; it's not something he would ordinarily say.A strange, thin cloud formation has appeared now along the western horizon, and far out to the south there are white lines on the water, moving with the current. I think about Harley's voice. It sounded strange and hard.The weather is changing; something is coming in."It's time we left the island."I remember I turned to Mother. That was the worst thing. I turned without thinking because she and I can change Harley's mind about anything. I turned to her for help and saw ... nothing. That was the awful part--her face was blank. Anything would have been betterthan that. Crying, yelling, holding my hand. Anything. But she only shrugged and sipped her tea. "I can be happy whatever you decide," she said. "It's up to you and your father." 
 
Our house is far behind me now, out of sight. There's only the narrow trail, the dark cliffs, the sea, and the sky. Harley and Mother are probably washing dishes. It's a weekend ritual, a chance for them to talk. I've seen them do it a thousand times, I can see them in my mind now. They're talking about me, about moving away. Harley is washing; he's concerned; he's wondering if this is the right choice. Mother dries and reassures him as she places each dish exactly where it belongs. She calms him, talking sensibly in her slow deep voice.I wonder if it's Mother's idea and not Harley's.There are some things you don't have to think about, things that are simple and solid. Leaving the island is one of those.I'm walking on the southernmost point of the island now, more than a mile from our cabin. As I round the point I come face-to-face with open ocean and a strong steady wind out of the west. And I see Forrest some distance away, moving toward me on the trail.Text copyright © 2001 by Monte Killingsworth lllustrations copyright © 2001 by Jennifer Danza

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