categories: Cocktail Hour
I am proud and delighted to announce that today marks the release of my wife Nina de Gramont’s new book, Meet Me at the River. It is being published by Atheneum Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster for young adult readers.
I have spent the last few days in the world of Tress and Luke, the not-really-quite siblings who fall in love, a love so deep, that as the jacket copy says, “not even Luke’s death can keep them apart.” The book is told in the alternating first person voices of the two characters, and begins with Luke paying ghostly visits to Tressa’s bedroom, where the two can see but not touch each other, and where they can talk freely except about anything that has happened since Luke’s death. They can also skate and ski, and do so down by the river where Luke drowned. One of the deep pleasures of the book is the gradual unraveling of the couple’s past and murky future. The language is lyric but energized, the portrait of young love alive (despite, you know), the sadness laced throughout. (If I were a young girl I’d be heading over to Amazon right now. It’s true that this is Bill and Dave’s and young girls are probably not our demographic, but I’m guessing a few of us have daughters (and sons) who read.)
Of course it’s unbecoming for one spouse to review another’s book so I’ll let the pros do it. As anyone who publishes books knows, Kirkus Reviews does not gush very often. But listen to them go on about Meet Me at The River in this starred review:
“With a deft hand, de Gramont easily convinces the most skeptical of readers that the depth of Tressa’s and her boyfriend Luke’s emotions can enable a few fleeting, and frustratingly incomplete, moments of connection for them during the year following his tragic death. One of this riveting novel’s most astonishing qualities is that it features a spectral character but avoids the clichés of many modern paranormal romances; it is instead a largely realistic tale of grief and healing. Rather than offering impossible hopes for a continued post-death romance, the imperfections of Tressa and Luke’s phantom connection–they can neither speak about the present nor feel each other’s touches–is a continual painful reminder of all that they have lost. And while Luke’s visits are a testament to their profound love, they are also an agonizingly slow goodbye and a hesitant step toward moving through their shared grief. De Gramont torments readers with flashbacks similar to Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road (2008), in which the knowledge that a character’s death is inevitable heightens, rather than assuages, readers’ dread as Luke’s final doomed moments are slowly revealed. The novel should come with a disclaimer that readers who are shy about public sobbing should avoid cracking this one open on public transportation, in waiting rooms or during classroom silent sustained reading times. A must-read.”
Not to be outdone, here is Booklist:
“I have thought about my life in terms of monumental moments that can’t be undone.” So muses 18-year-old Tressa, the protagonist in de Gramont’s latest coming-of-age novel (since Every Little Thing in the World, 2010). Tressa is still actively grieving the death of her soul mate, Luke, and blaming herself for the accident that took his life. Compounding the inconceivable tragedy, Tressa is surrounded by family who shunned their relationship when Luke was alive—because he was her stepbrother. Now they’re exasperated by Tressa’s tenacious hold on his death and her lack of drive toward her future. But what no one knows is that Luke regularly visits Tressa at night, a tangible reminder widening the divide between their old world together and her new “after-Luke” life and stalling any movement Tressa makes toward recovery. But how can you be defined by a love that will never exist again? Does true, abiding love ever diminish, even if the one you love is gone forever? De Gramont beautifully straddles fantasy and reality while delving into the dark (and sometimes dazzling) emotions surrounding love and loss.”
Dazzling? Yes! Meet Me at the River.