Spotlight on Bone's Gift (Angie Smibert), Plus Excerpt & Giveaway!
Today we're excited to spotlight Bone's Gift by Angie Smibert!
Read on for more about Angie and her book, plus an excerpt & giveaway!
Meet Angie Smibert!
Angie Smibert is the author of several young adult books, including Memento Nora, The Forgetting Curve, and The Meme Plague, numerous nonfiction books for children, as well as many short stories for both adults and teens. She lives in Roanoke, Virginia. Visit angiesmibert.com.
Meet Bone's Gift!
In this supernatural historical mystery, twelve-year-old Bone possesses a Gift that allows her to see the stories in everyday objects. When she receives a note that says her mother's Gift killed her, Bone seeks to unravel the mysteries of her mother's death, the schisms in her family, and the Gifts themselves.
In a southern Virginia coal-mining town in 1942, Bone Phillips has just reached the age when most members of her family discover their Gift. Bone has a Gift that disturbs her; she can sense stories when she touches an object that was important to someone. She sees both sad and happy--the death of a deer in an arrowhead, the pain of a beating in a baseball cap, and the sense of joy in a fiddle. There are also stories woven into her dead mama's butter-yellow sweater--stories Bone yearns for and fears. When Bone receives a note that says her mama's Gift is what killed her, Bone tries to uncover the truth. Could Bone's Gift do the same? Here is a beautifully resonant coming-of-age tale about learning to trust the power of your own story.
~ Excerpt ~
BONE’S GIFT Excerpt
Big Vein, Virginia
BONE PHILLIPS FLOATED in the cool, muddy water of the New River up to her eyeballs. The sky above was as blue as a robin’s egg, and the sun was the color of her mama’s butter- yellow sweater.
Her mother was still everywhere and nowhere Bone looked.
She let herself sink under the water and swam along the river bottom toward shore—toward Will.
In the shallows, her hand brushed against something hard and jagged on the silky river bottom. An image poured over her like cold bathwater. A young boy had hit his head on this rock.
He struggled for air. The current grabbed at him—and her, pulling her along back in time. Bone snatched her hand away from the rock and came up for air with a gasp.
The object had a story in it. This one wasn’t as bad as the first. That one, back in July, had been downright awful. Still, Bone didn’t care for the experience one bit. She felt like she’d been tossed into the river to sink or swim. And no one was there to pull her out—except maybe Will.
As Bone stood half out of the water, trembling, eyes bored into her. Will hadn’t looked in her direction. He was still fishing from the downed log, lost in his own thoughts. Bone looked up
the bank, to the road. Her cousin Ruby straddled her bicycle in one of her store-bought dresses, staring at Bone. Ruby turned away as two girls and a boy rode up on their bikes. The boy pulled
Bone’s overalls off the nearby branch. Ruby grabbed them back from him and threw them to the ground. The others rode off, laughing. Ruby lingered for a moment. She picked up Bone’s clothes from the dirt and hung them back in place. With a shake of her head in Bone’s direction, Ruby pushed off after her friends.
Bone ducked back under the brown water and shut her eyes tight. She didn’t want to see the long-ago boy hitting his head—or the here-and-now Ruby shaking hers. Bone pushed all the sounds and images down deep where she couldn’t hear or see them. Then she pictured tales of princesses, wandering Gypsies, and frontier fighters, flickering in her mind like movies. Those were the stories Bone liked to tell. Those stories calmed her like still waters.
Silent Will Kincaid listened to her stories. His silence was better than most people’s conversation. He was like one of those big rocks out in the middle of the river she liked to sun herself on,
solid and warm and always there. And her words flowed around him like the burbling waters of the New River.
Bone surfaced next to Will. One of his overall straps dangled down in back. She reached up to tug him into the water, but his hand was already there, waiting to pull her up beside him. He
hauled her onto the tree and kept fishing.
Bone stretched herself along the trunk and let the early September sun bake dry her skin and the cut-off long johns and T-shirt she swam in. The lonesome wail of a train whistle blew as the Virginian wound around the bend on the other side of the river.
“You know that big rock face over yonder?” Bone shouted above the din of the long line of coal cars rattling along the tracks.
Will began to reel in his empty line.
“Well, that was once called Angel’s Rest. Jilted lovers used to jump off of it and dash themselves to bits on the rocks below.”
Will packed up his fishing gear. Bone knew he had other things on his mind, and they needed to get to the commissary before it closed. Still, she started in on a tale of two fateful lovers. It wasn’t the real story. Uncle Ash had told her a mother died trying to save her child. Bone didn’t like tales about dead mamas.
As she wound through the end of her story, Will was climbing to the road. Bone scrambled up the bank to where her overalls still hung from a branch, thanks to Ruby. Bone hopped into them, yanking them on over her still-damp underclothes and fastening them as she ran after him.
“And that’s why the train whistle sounds so lonesome coming around that bend.” Bone caught up with Will, and they walked along the gravel road together not saying another word. She was
content in Will’s stony silence. A sound like thunder broke that silence. The skies were clear, and the mines were closed for another day. In the summer, the men worked other jobs, picking fruit or milling lumber, or they hunted, farmed, and fished to put food on the table. Come the first Friday after Labor Day, both the mines and schools opened. So, that sound could mean only one thing. Bone and Will raced up the road, over the train tracks, and into the coal camp.
The thunder grew more deafening as they whipped past the tipple and the mine entrance. The sound couldn’t drown out the hoots of Warren “Jake” Lilly as he flew down the black slate pile
on a sled made from a scrap of sheet metal no bigger than a hall rug. He hit the dirt and skidded some yards before he spilled out into the grass at Will’s feet. Clay Whitaker leapt down from his
perch on the timber frame of the tipple, the chute that loaded coal onto the trains. He scratched out the spot where Jake’s sled had stopped its forward motion.
“A new record,” he declared.
Jake beamed as he knocked the coal dust and dirt from his dungarees.
“Want to give her a try?” He nudged Will. A slow smile dawned over Will’s face, and he followed Jake and Clay. It made Bone forget where he’d be going.
The boys climbed the slate pile in giant strides as if they were kings of the hill. Near the top, Will tugged on Jake’s sleeve and cocked his head toward Bone. The other boys stopped to consider her.
“She’s just a girl.” Clay scrambled to the top.
Bone stared at the back of their heads for a moment and reached down for a rock, half intending to hurl it at the back of Clay’s fat little head. Instead, she studied its thick veins of black sandwiched by even thicker layers of brown. The stone was more rock than coal. Like her. Her fingertips tingled. A vein of a story ran deep through the rock. But it didn’t overwhelm her. It teased her. The story was more like the faraway trickle of a stream, tempting her to come closer. She didn’t fall for it.
Bone dug deep in her brain for a better tale. One that would make the boys (and her) laugh. One far from the one in the rock. She latched onto a story her Uncle Ash had told her the last time
she was over to Mamaw’s house.
“Well, y’all have fun without me,” she called after the boys. “I was going to tell you this story I heard about a prank gone terribly wrong.” She turned and started to head slowly toward
the commissary. “It had mules and outhouses and everything.”
Bone stuffed the stone in her left pocket and chased up the pile after the boys. She promised to tell the story over a cold drink at the store after they finished. “Loser buys the pop.”
Will beat Jake’s mark by a few inches. When her turn came, Bone clung to the metal and dove
headfirst onto the rocks. The whang of the sheet metal against stone nearly deafened her, but she could still hear Jake and Clay cheering as she tore down the pile. Sharp edges jabbed at her
through the thin metal. The coal whipped by her face. Bone held on tighter and closed her eyes. She was flying down a soft mountain of snow rather than a crag of black rock. She skidded past Jake’s and Will’s marks in the dirt and spilled out into the grass by the commissary.
The boys ran down the hill and collapsed in a heap next to her.
“Damn, Bone. Thought you’d killed yourself for sure.” Jake had a new respect in his voice.
Clay shook his head as he scraped a fresh line in the dirt. “Another record.”
Bone brushed the gravel from her torn overalls. Then she hooked her thumbs in the straps and strutted back toward the slag pile. She was king of the hill. Bone beat the coal dust from her overalls, sending tiny billows of black in her aunt’s direction. It wasn’t enough to ward her off. In times like this, Bone liked to reflect on Uncle Ash’s wise words about his own big sister. He’d always say, “You can’t pick your family, but you sure as hell can pick your own nose.” He knew that got Aunt Mattie’s goat and made Bone smile. “Laurel Grace Phillips, whatever are we going to do with you?” Her aunt pulled out a compact mirror from her purse and held it up to Bone. “You look like a wild thing. I despair of making a lady of you.” Bone saw long, damp, stringy blond hair. Tanned and freckled skin. Muddy long johns and dusty, torn overalls. She stuck her tongue out at herself.
“No wonder they call you Bone.” Mattie Albert snapped her compact closed and put it back in her purse. Bone couldn’t remember exactly when folks started calling her that. It might have been after Mama died. Bone didn’t care. She liked her name.
“Laurel looks fine, Amarantha.” Daddy stepped out onto the store’s porch with a new pouch of tobacco in hand.
Aunt Mattie stiffened at her given name, as she always did when Bone’s daddy called her that. And he always called her that.
“Now, Bay, we all know you’ve done as well as you could raising Laurel without benefit of a woman’s influence, but there comes a time when she’s got to lay aside childish things
. . .” She slathered it on as thick as Karo syrup. “She has to think about her future. No self-respecting young man will want to marry . . .”
Bone lost track of what her aunt was saying. It was what she always said. Bone had to wear dresses. Act like a lady. Learn to cook and sew. All so she could be a good Christian wife and
mother someday. Daddy nodded as Aunt Mattie talked, but he held himself like he was taking a switching and didn’t want to let on how much he was feeling it. Bone plunged her hand deep
into her pocket. She still had that stone, and it seemed smoother after her journey down the hill. The smooth stone reminded her of a story. David and Goliath. The boy David had chosen five
smooth stones from the stream before he faced the Philistine. As she stared at the middle of Mattie Albert’s forehead, Bone wished she had a slingshot.
At that moment, Aunt Mattie’s voice dropped to a hushed whisper. “You know Willow was about her age when—”
Bone’s father flinched ever so slightly. “Bone ain’t Willow,” he snapped. “And you know my mind on the subject.” He stood straight as a rod now, and his look dared her to say another word.
“Superstitious nonsense,” he muttered.
Bone had no idea what Aunt Mattie was on about, probably something to do with church. Daddy thought everything was superstitious nonsense. Even church.
Aunt Mattie closed her mouth.
It was the only part of her that looked remotely like Bone’s mother. Other than that they had nothing in common. Everyone loved Mama. She had a feeling for people, Daddy always said
with a sad look in his eye. The stone in Bone’s hand had a thick vein of black coal winding through it like a river. The stone was whispering a story. It was her story, their story—hers, her father’s, her mother’s, and even her aunt’s—running through that rock. The weight of time
and loss and the mountains had made it hard. It was a big vein.
The words of the story grew louder in Bone’s head. She closed her eyes and thought about princesses and Gypsy curses and flying rabbits. Anything really but what the object was trying to
tell her. When Bone opened her eyes again, her father and aunt were staring at her. Bone could see now that her Aunt Mattie had her mother’s eyes. Unfortunately, those eyes were looking at Bone like she was something that needed fixing.
By: Angie Smibert
Publisher: Boyd's Mill Press
Release Date: March 20th, 2018
Ten winners will each receive a copy of Bone's Gift (Angie Smibert) ~ (US Only)
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I like the cool and colorful book cover. Bone sounds like a good character. I am excited to read this story that sounds mysterious and fun.