About the Book
Bernie is a battered wife, escaping her husband Carlos for the summer. Meg is a writer and pre-op transgender woman, dealing with father issues, and sharing her place with Baby, another woman on the edge.
Bernie faces her close-knit family’s disapproval that she’s brought her abuse out into the open by this flagrant, trail summer separation. Meg confronts the issues of her own absent father, who is now terminally ill, and her younger sister’s dark history, which weighs heavier on her than the final stages of her upcoming transition. Bernie’s only champion is Carlos’s cousin Gloria, who offers to help and to visit Bernie in Hollywood, in spite of at first calling all Bernie’s new neighbors freaks.
Relations come in all kinds of configurations–what we accept from some, what we must refuse from others, and how we recognize those who earn the right to be called family.
“Runyon writes characters in a way that makes them believable–flawed, only human. People who find the intricate details of identities and the stories of the people around them fascinating will like this novel.” — Review, Sweatpants & Coffee
“This was about as close to a perfect story as you can get. The characters were so beautifully drawn, I hated to put the book down, and always looked forward to when I could pick it back up again. The plot was filled with anchors and familiar elements, and yet surprised me at several turns. And, like every excellent story, this one will leave me thinking about it for a long time to come.” — Rainbow Award judge
GLORIA DROVE RATHER sanely for someone with a full-sized mattress set strapped onto her Impala’s roof. The rising sun struck the rear-view mirror at an annoying angle, but she was patient. It would move. With an open can of Coors sweating on her lap, four more cans cooling her ankles, and her cousins’ truant wife next to her, silent and still, Gloria steered westward.
Bernadette was a beauty but the girl had too many big words in her. That was Bernie’s problem; she stood out at the family’s patio dinners, all those long words and nobody to use them on. Twenty-five—no—twenty-six, and no kids yet.
“Nah, leave it off, okay?” Bernie whispered when Gloria reached for the radio.
Poor kid, Bernie wanted what she wanted, so now Gloria found she felt antsier in the quiet than she’d expected. But she was patient with that too. That was her way.
This silence on the drive, strange and new, suited Bernie fine. The day I moved out, repeated in her mind. This day. I moved out. The sunrise hadn’t fully breached the horizon behind them yet. The quiet felt good. She loved the colors rising slowly from the grey around her.
She was glad that Gloria was the one she’d thought of to take her into Hollywood because she’d understand needing the quiet.
They rode the twenty miles or so from cousin Carlos’ duplex in San Gabriel where Bernadette had been a wife (Carlos owned both sides of the duplex and rented out half). Now, they headed down the 10 Freeway, to a short cul-de-sac in Hollywood.
Bernie wasn’t sure what she’d be there, except maybe free.
Gloria remained tranquil in the face of no music, one hand high on the wheel, glad there weren’t tears to deal with, no tirades. It bugged her when girls fell back on that.
Then Bernie let out that sound. A stifled whimper.
Gloria felt its push, like a live thing. Getting under her sternum, the sensation running down her arms to her fingertips, like the Impala was shuddering, slipping out of gear that winter her transmission was all jacked up.