Posted by authorcamilson
This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Camille will be awarding a lovely pen and notebook to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
Camille A. Collins’s lyrical debut novel speaks to the passionate engagement of adolescent girls—with music, with injustice, with love, with life. This is a courageous coming-of-age story, one that poet Nikki Giovanni recommends “sharing with our teenage sons and daughters.”
Collins’s 1980s southern California set novel is a literary debut that tackles social inequality with poetic riffs and heart-pounding angst.
Read an Excerpt:
With the endless choices of the Salvation Army thrift store came the opportunity to take on whatever costume, and with it, whichever fantasy role they chose. Much like their descendant courtship with melancholy, their love of the clothes and hairstyles of the late 1950s and early ’60s was not grounded in reality, but in the promise of some Shangri-la where girls beguiled with hooded eyelids and teased hair, the glimmer of pale, iridescent gloss on full lips.
“Lia! You’ve got to see what I found for you!”
Ryan gave up waiting and raced to the back of the store, where Lia was admiring jewel-encrusted pocketbooks, and grabbed her by the hand. In a row of old frocks, some of them musty and stained, others absurd in their grandiose embellishment of floor- length drapery, puffed sleeve, and sequin, Ryan had discovered a jewel.
“Stand still now.” Taking her by the shoulders, Ryan made Lia stand tall and straight while she held the sleeveless, pink satin, ’60s-style dress up to Lia’s small frame.
Stepping in front of a mirror with the dress draped against her body, Lia cried, “Oh my god. I love it! I can’t believe how rad you are!” She threw her arms around Ryan’s neck.
“It’ll be your Supremes dress,” Ryan decided.
Ryan wasn’t as lucky in finding anything special at the thrift shop that day. To strike out at the Salvation Armywasonething, butatthedrugstoretherewasnever any shortage of items for consolation. With exactly $8.37 worth of merchandise between them, the girls were delighted by the prospect of getting back home where, imprisoned inside their still girlishly furnished bedrooms turned out in fluffy white comforters and stuffed unicorns, which they clung to during witching hours, when they dreamt of being spirited away by those creatures come to life, they would work up their sadness like warm palms dredging up the dark forces of a Ouija Board.
As they clambered onto the bus that would take them back to their serene pocket of suburbia, the two girls clasped hands.
“I love you!” Lia squealed. “You’re my best friend in the entire world!”
“You’re mine too!” Ryan cried.
If spilling peroxide on the pale green bathroom rug, which caused a spreading white stain and made Ryan’s mom yell at the girls, wasn’t foreshadowing—a telling clue that all that conjuring had been unnecessary— then Ryan’s cocky attitude once the peroxide took hold, and she showed up to school the next day tossing her long blond hair all over the place, should have been. “Coming over after school?” Lia leaned over to whisper as they prepped for a science lab.
Ryan shook her head. “Elizabeth Cole’s sneaking boys over while her mom’s out. I’d invite you, but you don’t drink, don’t make out…” Ryan flung her hair off her shoulder and abruptly turned away.
Ryan’s introduction to Neil Jimenez two weeks later wasn’t exactly the dream prescribed by the clutching of those unicorns, or their infant attachment to Baudelaire’s feverish lamentations; neither was the fact that Lia would end up donning her pretty pink “Supremes” dress on the loneliest day of her life.
About the Author
Camille A. Collins has an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been the recipient of the Short Fiction Prize from the South Carolina Arts Commission, and her writing has appeared in The African-American National Biography, published by Harvard University and Oxford University Press; in The Twisted Vine, a literary journal of Western New Mexico University, and other places.
Publisher Author Page: http://www.brainmillpress.com/the-exene-chronicles
Camille will be awarding a lovely pen and notebook to a randomly drawn winner.
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