Monday, July 23, 2018

Behind These Hands: A Review and ARC Giveaway

Congratulations to the following readers who won books:

Linda Townsend won Strange, Unusual, Gross & Cool Animals by Charles Ghinga

Kathleen Burkinshaw won Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe by Jo Hackl

Jane Leah B. won Nature's Friend by Lindsey McDivitt 

Mary Housel won The Extraordinary Ordinary Moth by Darlin Gray

Thanks to all of you who entered these giveaways. Don't give up! I have lots more books to give away.

I am blessed with amazing writer friends whose stories inspire my writing. This week I am pleased to share BEHIND THESE HANDS by my writing buddy, Linda Phillips. Some of you may remember the cover reveal and when I blogged about Linda's unique path to publication for this book, which is her second novel in verse. Now you can glimpse inside this beautifully written young adult novel that came out last week. I must note that it was hard selecting which poems to share. There are many more that are poignant, eloquent, and carry the story forward. 


Fourteen-year-old music prodigy, Claire Fairchild, is headed towards a music competition. Her only worry is if she takes first place over her best friend Juan--who is actually proving to be more than "just a friend." The book opens with Claire's piano practice interrupted by her younger brother Davy who is visually impaired and recently diagnosed with a learning disorder. He smiles a lot and Claire thinks, 
It bothers me that he smiles so much, 
maybe because it doesn't seem normal; 
maybe because I know for sure  
if I were in his shoes 
my smile would be the first to go.  (p.6)

This is her first attempt to write down the music she has composed for the competition:
"The Kite" takes off 
in the dead silent stillness 
of this tiny room 
as if the breezes were driving  
through these walls, 
and I chase it with the melody 
that has gelled in my brain 
these weeks of practice, 

and now 


I slide on the bench  
to the little table, 
and begin the task of setting down the notes 
that are strung across my brain, 
ready to pluck down 
like washing on a clothesline. (p. 15)
Into the middle of her preparation that is constantly interrupted by her parents worries about Davy, his medical tests, her need to watch both brothers while her parents work, and her own self-doubts, comes devastating news: 
The suspense is over. 
Our house feels like 
those pictures you see 
after a tornado levels        
but the victims are alive, 
shuffling around the debris 
in a daze. 
It's called Batten disease. 
it's going to get worse.  (pp. 31-32)

In heart-wrenching verse Linda leaves nothing to the imagination as Claire and her family reel from the news that truly does get worse: Davy will die from the disease, Claire is unable to concentrate on practice, she wants to give up music all together because it feels meaningless, she is pummeled with guilt, her father won't talk about the diagnosis within the family, everyone acts like their family is normal when it is anything but, her mother is coming unraveled from lack of sleep and worry, and a cooling off with Juan that she can't explain--these are all more than Claire can bear.
Batten has rearranged our family 
like pieces of familiar furniture 
placed awkwardly in a new setting. (p.72)

When genetic testing reveals that her other brother, Trent, also has Batten, Claire finds out devastating news about herself:

What does that mean          
what she just said?                        
What does that mean? 

I put my head in my hands 
seriously feeling faint now, 
miles away as if I had just stepped          
of my own body. (pp 96-97)
Into the middle of this devastation steps Claire's best friend, Mia, who drags her along on a journalism assignment. Together, they befriend  Mrs. Shepherd, an elderly woman who shares her past sorrows as well as her wish that she had celebrated life more. This, along with attending the Batten Disease conference with her father, gives Claire the tools and drive to regain purpose and a plan to combat "the beast." 

I know I'll find a way to help my brothers. 
I know that wasting my time feeling sorry for myself                 
                       needs to be a feather      
                       not a rock.
I know that celebrating life needs to be a rock      
                       not a feather.
I know it might not be a bad day after all      
                       if I keep this up. (p.199)

BEHIND THESE HANDS doesn't cut corners or pretend something is pretty when it isn't. Batten Disease cuts short the life of young people and leaves families devastated by pain and loss. But it is the story of a brave young woman who faces it head on and learns to celebrate the life of her two young brothers. In the end, she, Juan, and Mia meet with her parents to plan a fund raiser for Batten research. Other friends come to the house singing one of Mrs. Shepherd's favorite songs, "This Land is Your Land."
We all join in. 
Out of the corner of my eye 
I see Davy and Trent sitting at the top 
of the stairs, 
smiling and clapping. 
Mom brings them down and we finish the song.

"Are we having a party?" 
Davy says.

"Yeah," Trent says, rubbing his eyes, 
"How come you didn't invite us?"

All eyes fall on me.  
"This is just a preview, guys, 
the first of many
          and you will be invited

       to every single one of them.
I promise." (p. 288-9)



This book belongs in the classroom to help young adult readers gain empathy for those facing severe medical difficulties.  As Linda demonstrates in two scenes where bullies tease her brothers; it is often easy to pick on those who are weak. 

I am giving away my autographed ARC to one fortunate reader. Leave me a comment by Thursday, July 26 to enter. PLEASE leave me your email address if you don't think I have it. If you start following my blog or share this on social media, I'll enter your name twice--but let me know what you do!

Linda on her way out the door
with her two verse novels-
on her way to ALA!



Jo Hackl said...

Congratulations, Linda, and many thanks for sharing this, Carol. I've already bought my copy so no need to enter me in the drawing, but whoever wins the book is lucky indeed.

Linda Townsend said...

Thank you so much! Once my son and I have looked it over, we plan to donate it to our wonderful public library so others will be able to enjoy it! SPREADING THE JOY! Thank you, again!

Linda Phillips said...

How can I thank you enough for your ever kind words, Carol? The writing in this blog is beautiful, too, and I know I am hardly the only author who has benefited from your lovely reviews. I do hope this book will touch hearts, even beyond those courageous families dealing with this devastating disease.

Connie Porter Saunders said...

Sounds great Carol! Thanks for sharing.
I shared on Twitter.

Carol Baldwin said...

Connie, you're in twice. Thanks for sharing on Twitter. Jo, LInda, and Linda --I'm happy to spread the word about great books!

Theresa Milstein said...

Oh, what a fantastic premise full of tension and the potential for character development too. Love the excerpts!

My tweet:

If I'm lucky enough to win: tmilstein at gmail dot com

Jilanne Hoffmann said...

Sounds like a wonderful book! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Helena George said...

Everything about this book sounds utterly amazing!!! I think it's going to be a good one!

Carol Baldwin said...

Theresa you're in twice. And Jilanne and Julian--I've got you entered too!

Linda Phillips said...

Thank you,readers, for the kind comments. I hope you enjoy reading the book and if you do, I will love a short review on Goodreads and/or Amazon.

Linda A. said...

Carol, what a great blog post about an amazing book. Congratulations, Linda Phillips! Enjoy the conference. What an exciting time for you! You deserve it!

Kathleen said...

So happy for you Linda! Carol, the prose you chose to highlight in your review tugs at my heart. I am looking forward to reading BEHIND THESE HANDS(and will plan to have mt tissues ready)!

Grannyjo said...

Wow! The review is sure to peak anyone’s interest and the book sounds awesome! Sounds like a wonderful read!
Jo Lynn

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks LInda, Kathleen, and JoLynn. Yes, it's a great book and I'll enter your names.

Sandra Warren said...

If ever there was a REVIEW that will sell books, this is it!

Wow, Carol, you've done an amazing job with BEHIND THESE HANDS! I can't wait to read it.

And congratulations to Linda for writing helpful books that will change lives.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks so much, Sandra. I'm happy to promote good books! I'll add your name to the hat.

Grace Marie said...

I would like to enter, I'm pretty sure you have my email address.

Carol Baldwin said...

I have your email, Gray Marie. You'll like this book!!

rochel'e said...

I absolutely LOVED Crazy and would be honored to win a signed ARC. My email address rochelvorst at cjdschool dot org

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Rochel'e, for stopping by. YEs, HANDS is just as good as CRAZY! You're in.

Vijaya said...

Congratulations Linda!!! What a lovely review, Carol. It *is* hard choosing from such a bounty but you did well. Please put my name in the hat. Thank you.

Carol Baldwin said...

You're in Vijaya! Thanks for entering. I'm so proud of LInda. Can you tell?

Unknown said...

Carol, thank you for this review.
Linda, congratulations and best wishes with this exciting new book!
I do hope this book WILL be used in classrooms to help children understand health challenges. We need "sensitivity training" in our society.
This looks like an excellent tool for that.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks to "unknown." I agree with you--just wish I knew your name and email address so I could add your name to the giveaway list!

Rosi said...

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book. It's great to see the word being spread. I will pass on the giveaway since I already read it. Someone else should have that wonderful experience.

Carol Baldwin said...

I agree with all that LOVE, Rosi!!

Linda Phillips said...

Thanks again, friends, for all the support and positive energy expressed here!! And of course, Carol, you set the stage and I'm indebted.

Carol Baldwin said...

So happy to be a part of your writing journey, LInda!

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