MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Excerpt from Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst X
Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2016, 288 pages
    Jun 2017, 288 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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About this Book

Print Excerpt


In another world, you make it work. In another world, you never even hear the name "Scott Bean." Or you do, and you maybe even subscribe to his newsletter, but on the night that he comes to speak at a library not far from your house, Iris is sent home from school with a stomach bug, or Josh is out of town and you don't want to hire a sitter. You figure you'll catch him next time. Later, when you hear his name on the news and it sounds familiar, you shake your head and think, "What a wacko." It doesn't even occur to you to say, "That could have been me." Because you know yourself, and it goes without saying. You would never get mixed up in something like that. End of story.

Chapter 1

June 3, 2012: New Hampshire

The camp is in New Hampshire. We've been driving for two days now—well, not literally, because we stopped at a hotel overnight and we've taken breaks to eat and go to the bathroom, but you know what I mean. We've been driving for two days, approximately, and I can't decide if I want to be there already or not.

Tilly and I are both sitting in the middle row—she's behind our dad, and I'm behind our mom—because the way-back is all full of our bags and suitcases and everything. It looks like a lot, but it really isn't. Not for moving someplace completely new. For a while last week, Tilly got really obsessed with the idea that we could rent a U-Haul, and she was even looking up prices and showing my parents all of these websites and Yelp reviews and stuff, but she couldn't get them to say yes. They kept saying the whole point is to simplify, to figure out the bare minimum we need to live. I don't think that is the whole point, though, because we could have done that and stayed in DC.

Tilly was mad at me earlier this afternoon, but she's over it now. One good thing about her is that even though she gets mad pretty often, it doesn't last long. Okay, so: for practically the whole day, she's been bugging my parents about stopping to see the place where the Old Man of the Mountain used to be. Yes, used to be. Tilly has this whole weird thing about big statues—or "big people," actually, is what she calls them, because they don't have to be statues, and in fact, this is an example of one that wasn't. The Old Man of the Mountain was this piece of rock that used to be there on the side of the mountain, jutting out, and it kind of looked like an old guy's face. Tilly's shown me pictures of it, and it's on the New Hampshire state quarter; it's cool, but not that cool. And then one night, it fell off the mountain—it just collapsed and broke, and the pieces rolled down onto the road below. It happened back in 2003, on May 3, and I know the date because it was Tilly's fourth birthday. Not that she would have known about it at the time, but she acts like it's some big mystical thing instead of sort of an interesting coincidence.

So now, nine years later, here we are in New Hampshire. And the mountain is still there, but that's all it is: a mountain. No face on it, no big person. But Tilly wanted to go look at it, and after a million hours of begging, my mom and dad finally agreed. So we pulled off the road, and Tilly got out and walked up to the fence and stared up at the empty space like it was amazing, like it was a place where something holy and sacred had happened. "I can't believe that it was there, and now it's gone," she said. "I can't believe I'm never going to get to see it. It's like the Colossus of Rhodes and the Bamiyan Buddhas." She looked like she might start crying.

And I mean, this is our one big stop on the way to the camp? We'd been passing all these billboards for places that looked amazing: an alpine slide, Weirs Beach, and a Western ghost-town-looking place where you can get your face put on a wanted poster. And instead, Tilly gets her way, and we stop to look at something that isn't even there. So while she was going on and on with her random facts ("…and Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote this story about it, called 'The Great Stone Face'…"), I just cleared my throat and said really loudly, "It was just a piece of rock."

Excerpted from Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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