THE RAINBOW READER WELCOMES YOU BACK TO THE REWIND SERIES
Shining A Spotlight On Amazing Books From The Past
With Special Guest Reviewer, BARRETT, author of DAMANGED IN SERVICE and the soon-to-be-released DEFYING GRAVITY
Book: Piper’s Someday
Author: Ruth Perkinson
Publisher: Spinsters Ink
In my twenties, I made the long drive back to Illinois from California because my credit cards were stolen and I was in debt. The only thing I had to hang onto was my dog.
Many years later, when my life took another sharp turn, once again the company of my faithful dog provided strength and purpose when I quit my job, had surgery, sold my house, and traveled cross-country to start a new life.
And that’s just two examples of my gratitude for my faithful canine companions. I’ve always had a pet—usually a dog—to help me through the prickly bits.
And all the wonderful bits, as well.
So, when Salem West poked me and asked if I'd do a guest review for her REWIND SERIES, I stammered, made excuses, stuttered, and finally relented. When I couldn’t come up with a book right away, she said no worry, pick whichever one you like. (Okay, that was actually no help, at all, zippo, zilch, nada).
<< Cue: sounds of the roll of thunder, the crack of lightning and then a clock ticking loudly>>
I wanted a book that had touched my heart in a special way. Those books are ‘lingerers’. (The one’s I recall vividly years later.) After mulling the choices, a haunting standout for me, was Ruth Perkinson’s Piper’s Someday.
In 2007 the movie Juno was released. It gave Ellen Page and Diablo Cody overnight name recognition. Juno made an indelible impression on me as a smart, unusual, 16 year old girl. Her speech and mannerisms are still vivid. It was a brilliantly conceived and brilliantly performed story.
And what does that have to do with reviewing Piper’s Someday? Not much, but I so enjoy a good tangent.
Seriously, the thing is, I saw Juno four years ago, and the central character of that story remains very real to me. When I picked up Ms. Perkinson’s book to reread, I had the same sensation. Piper Cliff is an indelible character—I know her.
|Meet River, the tripod,|
and inspiration for Someday
A rush of warm feelings began as soon as I opened the book this time and read… “More often than not, I left my dog Someday tied to the red maple in back of my apartment on Stony Creek Road before I walked the eight-tenths mile to Carver Middle School.”
(Ed. NO-the dog does not die.)
Immediately I fell back in time to the humid summer days in Goochland County, Virginia and the lyrical story of a valiant preteen named Piper Leigh Cliff. Orphaned by a tragic accident, Piper lives a purgatory existence with her neglectful grandfather.
Her interminable summer days are made up of hanging out at the skateboard pipe, wandering along the James River, providing indentured servitude to her beer-swilling grandfather and his skeevy friend and drinking buddy, Clover.
Although unrecognized, Piper is a bright girl with an aversion to math.
I could tell, because how many 12 year olds use the words “annealed” or “espied”?
Having lost the love and nurturance of her parents and the companionship of her brother, Piper dreams of a future as a waitress at the ‘Curbside Cafe’. She envisions the glorious day when she will turn 18, be able to go to work waiting tables, and earn enough money for an apartment for herself and her dog.
While skateboarding, a serendipitous accident brings two caring strangers into her life. This singular event changes lives and rewrites her future. Jenny and Andrea are the new neighbors. Jenny is a postal worker and Andrea is a graduate student. They befriend Piper and Someday. It doesn’t take them long to figure out that their young friend is living in a precarious situation.
The story accelerates as July 4 brings a dramatic game-changer. Jenny and Andrea are publicly outed by Piper’s redneck grandfather and his gnarly sidekick; Piper escapes an assault, and Someday mysteriously disappears.
During the subsequent fallout, the constellation of Piper’s life takes on a new look. She learns a new definition of family and the value of unconditional love.
When the police, psychologists, and social services get involved, it’s Showtime.
By the time it’s over, each of the major characters makes life altering decisions and the bond between Piper and her dog grows.
“Hallelujah! Amen! We got her, Pipe. We got her!”
She looked into the rearview mirror and I caught her eye. She looked back at the both of us for a split second. Our eyes smiled at each other and I put my arms and whole body around the love of my life—Someday Cliff. My dog, Someday. I closed my eyes and kissed her eyes, ears and nose. She licked me on my face and I giggled. I was secure in the backseat of Andrea’s car with my dog. I wished that we could drive away somewhere far perhaps Montgomery where the angel Lucy had sung about lived, a place where I could have my dog and Andrea and Jenny and even the cat.
Ruth Perkinson has created a story that will stay with us. Each of the well-crafted characters resembles someone we’ve probably met, maybe a relative, maybe a friend, maybe the checker at Wal-Mart. They live in cities and small towns all over this country. Most of them will never make the headlines. And Piper Cliff is artistically drawn to be a child that is far too common in our society—neglected, unappreciated, ignored. Like many of those children, Piper is resilient, resourceful and has a dream.
Piper’s unique voice tells this story. We soon begin to see her world as she describes the squalid apartment, the basketball hoop, her fort along the river, and the courtroom. We hear the overheard conversations of adults, without pretense and sometimes without understanding.
And, if you close your eyes, you can smell the honeysuckle blossoms in Someday’s neck fur. Without much effort, you might even smell the stale cigarette smoke, old beer or urine soaked sofa.
Piper shows us a young woman, like many others whose lives have been forged by tragedy. I believed it and I felt it. I’ve known children just like her. For this seemingly invisible child, well-intentioned strangers are willing to risk it all to make a difference. Piper Cliff clutches to the one tangible hope, her dog Someday.
Ms. Perkinson captures the conflicting emotions of hope and despair, faith and disbelief, fear and comfort in an effortless way that never feels heavy-handed or fake. She lulls us into a seemingly simple story about a girl, her dog, and her grandfather. Without noticing, the story tightens along with the tension. You find yourself rooting for Piper and her three- legged dog. Along the way, you meet some wonderful characters that bring along humor by the gallon.
If you enjoyed her 2006 novel, Vera’s Still Point, you might be pleasantly surprised.
This is a lovely little book with some very deep and resonant messages about the value of love, loyalty, family, and the importance of doing the right thing.
And, I liked it a lot. I don’t know much about Salem West's Rainbow ratings, but for this little gem of a book, I would have to give it at least a 5.2 out of 6 on the Rainbow Scale.
Piper’s Someday has a permanent place on my special bookshelf, along with its 2008 follow up, Breaking Spirit Bridge.
If you’re out there Ms. Perkinson, thank you for introducing me to Piper Cliff!
For more information about Ruth Perkinson, visit her website at http://www.ruthperkinson.net/ or catch up on her blog at http://ruthperkinson.blogspot.com
Her newest novel, The Mystic Market is scheduled for release on December 13th, 2012.
Thank you, Ms. West for sharing your witty, urbane, and clever site. I’m honored to grace these pages and to have been one of its “victims”.