Spotlight on The Places We Sleep (Caroline Brooks DuBois), Excerpt, Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to spotlight The Places We Sleep (Caroline Brooks DuBois).
Read on for more about Caroline, plus a excerpt & a giveaway!
Meet Caroline Brooks DuBois!
Caroline Brooks DuBois is a poet and educator who received her MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. After teaching English at the middle school, high school, and college level, she was named a Nashville Blue Ribbon Teacher. The Places We Sleep is her debut novel. Caroline lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her family. Visit her online at carolineduboiswrites.com.
Meet The Places We Sleep!
A stunning debut novel in verse about a family divided, a country going to war, and a girl desperate to feel at home.
It's early September 2001, and twelve-year-old Abbey is the new kid at school. Again.
I worry about people speaking to me / and worry just the same / when they don't.
Tennessee is her family's latest stop in a series of moves based on her dad's work in the Army, but this one might be different. Her school is far from Base, and for the first time, Abbey has found a real friend: loyal, courageous, athletic Camille.
And then it's September 11, 2001. The country is under attack, and Abbey's first period arrives.
Like a punch to the gut / like a shove in the girls' room / like a name I won't repeat.
Abbey's family falters in the aftermath of the attacks. With her mother grieving, and her father preparing for active duty, Abbey must cope with the tragedy - and her body's betrayal - on her own.
Written in gorgeous narrative verse, Abbey's coming-of-age story portrays the military family experience during a tumultuous period in American history. Perfect for fans of sensitive, tender-hearted books like The Thing About Jellyfish.
~ Excerpt ~
It arrives like a punch to the gut
like a shove in the girls’ room
like a name I won’t repeat.
It arrives like nobody’s business, staring and glaring me down, singling me out
in the un-singular mob that ebbs and flows and swells and grows
in the freshly painted, de-roached hallways of Henley Middle.
It arrives like a spotlight,
like an intruder in my bedroom,
like a meteor to my center of gravity.
And my body—
in cahoots—allows it.
and textbooks, full of themselves, weigh me down.
This backpack holds the tools for my success, yet I’m unprepared for IT:
No change of clothes, no “girl supplies,”
no friend to ask
because Camille is nowhere nearby, no know-how,
(Did I mention, it arrives like a double negative?)
What was Mom thinking by not thinking
to prepare me for IT?
The bully-of-a-bell taunts me, rings its second warning
to those of us clogging the halls:
Follow the arrows, Dummy, on the walls!
Remember your locker’s secret code: 22 06 07
and then Right again,
as if that cold metal box
holds all I need to survive yet another school.
If I could just locate Camille—
the only person I can talk to, the one friend I’ve made
since we moved to town in June—
she might know what to do.
But no sight of Camille’s flame-red hair, and I’m pushed through the rush
of arms and legs and sideways scowls. My insides turning black and blue; my sense of direction confused,
just as the other new student—Jiman—breezes by, head up and confident.
I stop to stare at her
before stumbling in to Ms. Dequire’s room.
Late again! And her mouth forms its red-stained frown:
I find my seat, resist the urge to draw, instead head my paper:
September 11, 2001
I sit through that morning hour, a dull ache in my abdomen
blossoming like a gigantic thorned flower, jotting down mathematical formulas
I’m told are the key to my future.
Even with a math teacher for a mother, my focus wavers in and out . . . until
another teacher bursts in and whispers in the ear of our teacher,
who stops teaching to wring her hands.
“Something’s happening—in New York and in D.C.,” she informs us.
The tension is tangible.
“Some planes have crashed!”
But we don’t know
the half of it yet.
And to my shock,
we are soon released
Whatever’s happening must be terrible. But I can’t curb my relief:
Free to trod off,
free to go our separate ways
like it was any
The buses pull up like salvation on wheels, like rays of sunshine to my gloom.
And Camille, my single friend in Tennessee, is AWOL, so I sit up front on the bus and sketch.
Up front, with the kids from the elementary school next door. Up front, with my back to kids my own age.
who are talking and shouting
and pushing and shoving
and vibrating with questions about what’s happening. Up front,
where the driver is crying!
. . . about what’s happening in New York? New York is where Mom’s sister,
my Aunt Rose lives and Uncle Todd,
and my cousins Jackson and Kate!
If anyone has cause to cry, it’s me—
but I’m sure they’re okay. New York is huge.
It’s not just that—my secret is now announcing itself, and I have nothing to tie around my waist
and I’m wishing I hadn’t worn white.
Maybe a few others have reasons too,
like the kid halfway back so short nobody sees him, or the sixth-grader who sits near the football boys
and tries like mad to make them laugh. Or Jiman, new like me,
who also sits alone
but doesn’t usually seem to care.
How will I walk away from this bus, my back
to all these nosy faces,
eyes staring from windows, arms dangling,
But I do.
And Mom’s car is in the drive! The high school must have dismissed, too.
It’s the way she clutches the phone
and that unspeakable expression on her face— her voice attempting to comfort
someone who is NOT me.
She glances, half-smiles out of habit as I walk into our latest house.
But only her mouth smiles. Her eyes are hollow wells of worry. Her eyes miss the BIG change in me.
I need her to hang up and follow me
to the bathroom, to talk to me
through the door,
tell me, “Abbey, I’m here,” but she doesn’t.
I count to ten.
Is she talking to Aunt Rose? Uncle Todd? Is it about New York?
Her voice quivers and doesn’t sound like her own.
What’s going on there?
I soak my underclothes in soapy warmth
and think of the sink in my art teacher’s class, with its every-color splatter, and paint brushes rinsing free of paint.
The TV buzzes loud from our den
with news of a magnitude I can’t comprehend.
Why can’t Mom hear me
crying for her, needing her, screaming in my head— the kind of screaming
a mother should hear?
She finds me in bed,
sketchbook propped in my lap.
“Something’s happened . . .” she whispers.
I rise and shadow her
questions stick in my throat.
“My sister!” she chokes, tossing random shirts
and pants toward a suitcase and swiping at her eyes
with a pair of socks.
I pick up clothes where they land, fold them neatly,
place them gently into her bag.
“What’s going on—” I begin,
but she’s distracted and tells me, “I have to request a sub,”
replacing my words with hers.
I rearrange the photos of relatives on her dresser and stare at a recent one
of my cousins.
Mom pauses packing for a few seconds, looks directly at me and tries to explain
with plain language, straightforward, seemingly simple:
Your Aunt Rose is missing.
Still, I stare,
my face a fill-in-the blank,
my brain shuts down, my words dry up.
Missing from her desk, her office in New York, the towering building in which she worked,
but the building in which she worked, her office, her desk are also missing,
as in—no longer.
How can a building just give up,
be gone? How can people just disappear?
Mom is preparing
to drive to New York—
which is half a map from here— to be with my cousins,
Jackson and Kate,
who are thirteen and eight, and with my Uncle Todd,
while Dad and I will be missing her.
But not the same kind of missing.
My Aunt Rose is missing from the 86th floor of a building that’s smoldering and missing most of itself.
I visited her office once, with my cousins and Uncle Todd. See, my Aunt Rose and I,
we see eye to eye. We click.
She gets me. That day, she let me
sit in her chair and pretend to be Boss, so I bossed everyone: Be nice! Make art!
Aunt Rose agreed, “Let’s decree naps, music, candy—and raises for everybody!”
A framed landscape I’d drawn
decorated her office’s white wall, which I guess
is not there anymore.
“All?” I ask.
“All planes are grounded,” Mom repeats, her voice gone monotone.
“As in, not in the air?” I ask again.
She nods, looks out our window to the empty sky. “Who knows what’s coming next!”
After planning her route, she hesitates—“Your dad will be home soon”—and then kisses me,
grabs her final necessities, and loads her car.
I remind her to wear her seatbelt, to call when she gets there,
then I wave goodbye,
but she’s already in math-teacher
The Places We Sleep
By: Caroline Brooks DuBois
Publisher: Holiday House
Release Date: August 18th, 2020
One winner will receive a copy of The Places We Sleep (Caroline Brooks DuBois) ~ (US Only)
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