Congratulations to Kathy Brodland. She won an ebook copy of Stowe Away by Blythe Rippon.
Look! My friend Blythe Rippon stopped by! Because she wrote a book. Well, another book. And she wants to tell you all about it. And give away an ebook copy. Woo!
Want to enter? Drop a comment in the space below. That’s it. Easy-peasy. I’ll draw a winner on Friday, January 29. Good luck!
Stowe Away and “I think we all…” by Blythe Rippon
My latest novel, Stowe Away, is now available directly through my publisher, and for pre-order on Amazon (release date is Feb 3), and I’ve already started receiving emails from people about how much they like the story. That’s incredibly flattering, but what’s really interesting to me is how many of these emails use the phrase “I think we all….” with respect to the relationship between Sam, the story’s protagonist, and Natalie, her first love.
I’m sure we all remember our first love. The sound of her laughter, how she smelled. How there was some rift in the space-time continuum and for a while the world contained only her, with everyone else becoming tiny blurs around the edges of our consciousness. Maybe this relationship ended well, maybe it ended badly, maybe it’s still going strong. Regardless, “I think we all” carry a torch for our first love. People have written that it was eviscerating—in a good way—to read about Sam’s relationship with Natalie, and that it was therapeutic. I suspect your interpretation depends a lot on how your first love turned out for you.
The other common theme in the feedback I’ve received is readers recognizing in Sam’s experience as a caretaker their own sacrifices for the people they love. At the risk of giving a spoiler, I’ll say that at the midpoint of the novel, Sam’s world is turned upside down when she returns to the small town she longed to escape (Stowe, Vermont) to take care of her mom. Like stories of the way first loves never really leave us, stories about taking care of ailing family members are remarkably common. It never ceases to amaze me, the things I’ve seen people give up—not always because they want to, but because it’s the right thing to do. I’ve seen people give up careers, walk away from new relationships, abandon the perfect rent-controlled apartment—all because their family needed them. I’ve seen communities unite to throw fundraisers, and I’ve watched the quiet and solitary sacrifices made by one or two people to care for someone.
Stowe Away is about these experiences that so many of us share—first loves, sacrificing for family. Maybe, happily ever after. And because “I think we all” turn to books to find a piece of ourselves, I hope that, if you read it, Stowe Away speaks to you on at least one of these levels.
Thanks to the lovely ladies of Women and Words for letting me share some of my thoughts on Stowe Away.
Blythe Rippon is the author of Barring Complications (winner of Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Debut) and the short story “S. Claus” in the holiday anthology Do You Feel What I Feel. She holds a PhD in the humanities and teaches academic writing to undergraduates. When not grading papers or imagining plots for future novels, she is usually holding forth about the political injustice of the day, hiking, or experimenting in the kitchen. She has lived all over the United States and at present can be found in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her wife and children.