MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Excerpt from Rain Village by Carolyn Turgeon, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Rain Village

by Carolyn Turgeon

Rain Village by Carolyn Turgeon X
Rain Village by Carolyn Turgeon
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    Oct 2006, 320 pages


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When all is said and done, though, maybe that was what saved me. I was so light my feet barely made dents in the moist earth outside. Sometimes I passed a mirror and wasn’t sure whether I was reflected back in it. And little by little I just slipped away; people have a habit of doing that sometimes—just falling away, out of some lives and into other ones, out of one world and into the next. I ate dinner with my family every night, and I slept in the bed my father had carved for me when I was less than a year old, but little by little they just stopped seeing me is all. By the time I was twelve, plenty of times my parents didn’t even notice whether I was in a room or out of it, and more than once my mother ran right into me because she didn’t know I was there.

Once I stopped staring out the windows and longing to feel the ceilings of buildings with my head, the world took on a different shape. I stopped even pretending to do chores. The days became silent and mine, and I began to think that maybe there were other things besides rows and rows of corn and radishes, and I began listening to the silence in the house, wondering at what lay beyond the fields and the trees that marked out our land.

And then the world opened itself to me like a mouth.

The next day, as soon as the dishes were washed and dried, I sneaked out into the early afternoon and set off running, as if I couldn’t get to the library fast enough. I didn’t even look at the landscape around me or slow down for breath when a gaggle of teenaged girls laughed as I ran past.

“Weirdo!” they called. “Freak!”

I didn’t pay attention. Everything in the world that mattered to me was reduced down to that library across town.

But the moment I burst in the doors of Mercy Library, I became shy, and nervous. I stood by the door, unsure what to do next.

“Tessa,” Mary said, looking up from the front desk. Her eyes immediately dropped to my arms and legs. “Your parents weren’t too mad? You’re okay?” She walked over and put her hand on my shoulder, looked at my neck and face.

“No, it was fine. I’m fine,” I said. I smiled up at her.

She breathed out. “Good,” she said, laughing. “You look like you could use some relaxing. Why don’t we make some tea? They’ll be lining up any second, so we have to hurry.”

She rushed through the stacks, pulling me after her, back to an old stove tucked in the corner. I was so excited I was practically skipping. When we came to the makeshift kitchen, I laughed out loud. Everything with Mary was a great adventure. I loved the little stove, the jars of dried herbs lined above it. I loved the elaborate locked box made of ivory sitting on a table to the side.

“What’s in here?” I asked.

“More herbs,” Mary said, “for every kind of ailment. Powders and vials.” She leaned in to me, put her face next to mine. “You can cure most anything with these herbs, you know. Sprinkle them into tea and soup. Bite down on a clove for a toothache, brew up mixtures of mint and nettle and fireweed to soothe a broken heart.” She held up a small bag and let me peer into it: the herbs glimmered and shifted inside, and a faint whiff of smoke drifted into the air.

“You are a witch!” I said.

“I’m gonna get you and make you ride my broomstick!” She reached out for me and I screamed and laughed. “Here, we’ll need a stool for you, won’t we?” she said then, standing up. “So you can make tea, too.”

I beamed up at her, unable to imagine anything more exciting.

Mary pulled up a stool from one of the stacks and set it in front of the stove, then pointed out all the various herbs on the shelves above. I could just reach them from the stool, my belly pressed into the front of the stove. We set a pot of water to boiling. As we waited, we wrapped two small piles of herbs in two cheesecloth pouches and dropped them into two mugs. “Now you just pour the water over and let it brew,” Mary said, ruffling my hair.

Excerpted from Rain Village by Carolyn Turgeon. Copyright © 2006 by Carolyn Turgeon. Excerpted by permission of Unbridled Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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