Excerpt from Rebellion by Molly Patterson, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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by Molly Patterson

Rebellion by Molly Patterson X
Rebellion by Molly Patterson
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2017, 560 pages

    Aug 2018, 512 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Chris Fredrick
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When George and Lydie Hughes came up the drive in their pickup, I was coming out from the barn. I'd been feeding the pigs and thinking how glad I was that the little ones were finally weaned: one of our sows had failed to nurse after she farrowed, and we'd had to bottle-feed her piglets until early October. Only four from the litter had survived. But they were putting on weight, and now that feedings were easy again and I didn't have to spend so much of my time perched on a stool in the half-dark, cradling a piglet in my lap, I felt almost the same as I had a couple months before when Debbie went off to kindergarten. Relieved, but also just a little bit sad. Now, in the mornings, I got Joe and Debbie ready for school while Karol ate breakfast, and by the time they ran down the lane to catch the bus, I had only dirty dishes to keep me company at the empty table. It wasn't entirely a bad thing to be alone for so much of the day. But it was an adjustment.

George had been driving, and he was still getting out from behind the wheel while Lydie was already stepping forward with her hands clasped at her collarbone. She had bad news written all over her. You didn't waste time during the harvest just to go visiting. And I knew that Karol had gone over to their place a few hours before.

"Hazel," Lydie said when she was still a distance away. She didn't unclasp her hands. She raised them to her chin and let the weight of her head drop onto the knuckles. "Hazel, I'm sorry, but Karol's got sick."

"Sick?" I said and glanced at George as he came up beside his wife. They both stopped a few yards away, as if behind a line.

"Well, no," George answered. "Not sick, exactly."

And that's when they explained that Karol had had a heart attack. He'd dropped to his knees in the soil, and they'd turned him onto his back while Theo Acker went running off to get his truck. George had pressed down on Karol's chest, but he still wasn't taking in air when Theo peeled across the fields, right over the rows of beans (I would see this later, I would go and stand and look at the crushed plants). They'd lifted Karol into the truck bed and then Theo had shot off like the devil to the hospital in town.

"I'll drive you," George said once he finished explaining. The explanation hadn't taken long—most of the details I learned later.

"And I'll stay here," Lydie put in, "in case you're not back by the time the kids get home from school."

I had a flash of Debbie seated cross-legged on the floor listening to her teacher read a story aloud, of Joe making faces at the chalkboard from the back of the room. It was impossible to think that such a place existed or that my children were there going through their day as normal, while here I was already knowing that our lives had just changed, and changed forever. I knew it as I nodded to Lydie and told her the house was unlocked. I climbed in the front seat of the truck. We backed onto the lane and rolled down to the road, and George took a left onto Sumner without saying a word.

If I'd been able to notice it, I would have been grateful for George's silence. Instead my mind was too busy thinking about how, as he'd delivered the news, I heard the pigs snorting and scuffling in the pen on the side of the barn and thought, I will not be able to keep all this up on my own. I'd somehow known at that moment, even as I climbed into George's truck, that Karol would be dead by the time I got to the hospital. He was already gone, and from here on forward everything would be different, and hard.

* * *

As it was the middle of harvest, I sold only what had to go right then. The cows, the pigs. I called my sister Rena and told her I needed help, and so her husband John Charlie took care of everything. I didn't know how he managed it, but the day before Karol's funeral three transport trucks pulled up the lane and we all stood outside on the lawn watching the drivers load on the livestock. My sister Edith said it was like Noah's ark. No one laughed, but she hadn't been trying to get a laugh. Debbie remained stoic as they loaded the heifers, though when they started in on the hogs, big fat tears started rolling down her cheeks, and Rena picked her up and took her back into the house. Joe wasn't there; I'd sent him down to George and Lydie's place to play with their son Bobby. All the rest of us stayed watching. John Charlie directed, and I didn't say a word because it was too much to believe that not only was Karol gone forever but all those animals, too. The barn from now on would be quiet as a tomb.

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Excerpted from Rebellion by Molly Patterson. Copyright © 2017 byMolly Patterson. Excerpted by permission of Harper. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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