All We Have Is Now
"When they'd heard the news, they'd stayed up all night, talking
about what they wanted to do. The truth was they were tired. Tired
of working so hard just to get up every day and live the same filthy,
miserable life over and over again. Tired of running from the ghosts
of their pasts, the pimps on the streets, and the security officers in
the stores they occasionally stole from."
Normally fiction with an apocalyptic central event is a subgenre
I avoid like the plague. I think this is probably because right
before bed is my prime reading time. Something like global
annhialation is a for sure sleep kill. I was about to put Lisa
Schroeder's All We Have Is Now right back on the new books shelves.
Only when I did a quick skim her characters wouldn't let me.
Emerson and Vince have something like twenty-four hours left to
live. An asteroid, a death star, is due to hit Idaho and devastate
the United States and parts of Mexico and Canada. The people with the
money and connections to get away have done so. As for the rest, in
"For soon, the land of the free
and the home of the brave
would be the land
that was struck with an explosion
a hundred times greater than the biggest
nuclear bomb ever detonated."
Emerson and Vince are street kids. Much of their recent life
has been all about day to day survival: begging for money, sleeping in
alleys, dumpster diving for food. Knowing the end is near they decide
to go out on their terms which translates to jumping off a bridge.
A funny thing happens when they get to that bridge. There's a
guy there who seems to have the same plan. Carl had decided to grant
five people's last wishes. They are the fifth.
Vince wishes just for once to have cash. "...We've had nothing
for a long time, and it's hard, man. It's so incredibly hard, I can't
even tell you."
Carl gives him his wallet, full of money, and asks him, if
possible, to so some wish granting to pay this kindness forward. This
the start of an amazing journey for our two young protagonists, one in
which they'll meet some fascinating people and grow in a way they
might not have if they'd had all the time in the world.
Fitting with the theme of her book, Schroeder uses a novel and
highly effective device to separate the moving present from past and
future. The main narrative is written in prose. Switches to other
tenses, usually in the form of childhood memories, are in the form of
sparse free form verse.
On a personal note, in a way the title of this book applies to us
all. It's ok to look forward to something and treasure memories
UNLESS they blind us to the moment we're in and its preciousness.
Take me. I look forward to my daughter, Katie, coming home for a
visit. I enjoyed a little reminiscing about Easters when my children
were little. But this moment now is magnificent. I'm in my beautiful
studio with my year round decorated Christmas trees and favorite snow
globes. I just had a yummy supper. I'm getting great feedback on my
op ed piece which came out in today's Bangor Daily News. I have some
books I can read when I finish this review. The world's greatest
tuxedo cat is sprawled out on me purring. Who could ask for more?
A great big shout goes out to all those who work to help kids like the
protagonists of this story attain the good lives they deserve.
Especially my chum Christine Schmidt who I really really miss.
Julia Emily Hayhaway
Sent from my iPod