This book made me cry, faithful readers. I actually wept – more than once!
Girl Unmoored, by Jennifer Gooch Hummer, is a lovely little book that I quite highly recommend.
The story is set during a summer in mid-80s Maine, as Apron Bramhall (yes, that is her name, and, no, it is not a nickname) struggles to deal with her mother’s recent death. The nurse who tended her mother, Margie, whom Apron refers to as M, has moved into Apron’s house and, apparently, into Apron’s father’s heart. As if Apron isn’t upset enough about her father’s budding romance, M wants to kill Apron’s guinea pig, The Boss (named after my spiritual fiancé, Bruce Springsteen, and, no, that’s not the only reason I like this book). What Apron (or ‘Aprons,’ as M calls her) needs is a best friend; alas, Rennie, the person who should fill that slot, has dumped Apron for someone with more social cachet.
Apron befriends Mike, whom she first encountered when he played the titular role in Jesus Christ, Superstar. Mike and his partner, Chad, run a florist shop, and as Apron’s friendship with them grows, she begins working for them occasionally. This being the mid-80s, Mike and Chad’s relationship is not embraced by the locals, and Chad is ill. I’ll let you figure out from what.
There are some heartbreaking scenes, but some that make you laugh out loud as well. To whit:
When I got to Scent Appeal, the door was open but the lights were off. Usually this meant Mike had gone out to get more flowers or something for Chad. Mike said today would be a busy one. We’d probably have to stay open late because people would be running in at the last minute to buy flowers for their Fourth of July parties, and if that happened, don’t worry, he’d drive me home. Mike had even bought a bag of tiny American flags, which I stuck into all the vases yesterday even though Chad said he’d rather have his fingernails peeled off than celebrate Reagan’s crusty right-winged America. The real Boss was mad at Reagan, too, for singing “Born in the USA” without permission. The story was on the cover of my dad’s newspaper. Even when Bruce Springsteen looks mad, he’s still a fox.
Apron’s voice rings true to a girl between 7th and 8th grade, and her sadness, frustration and isolation do as well. Aside from her name – it’s not even an interesting gimmick – she’s utterly captivating. I wanted to hug her.
Please pick up Girl Unmoored. You will thank me later.