The release of Final Rounds: On Love, Loss, Life, and Lefse is only a month away! I cannot take orders yet, but today I sent the final page proofs to the printer.
Final Rounds is a simple novel about a complex character, 12-year-old Amaya, who handles the loss of Papa, her grandfather, by 1) pulling off an end-of-life celebration for Papa never heard of before in Amaya’s small town and 2) by writing—which she hates. Amaya writes about her memories of Papa and makes writing less loathsome—even enjoyable—by writing part of her story in verse.
Below is a peaceful scene involving Papa, Amaya, and Mrs. Taylor, Papa’s neighbor and a high school English teacher who helps Papa and Amaya make 630 rounds of lefse for a Christmas lefse giveaway in New Seljord, their small town in Minnesota. The blizzard and the lefse-making marathon have ended, and the three exhausted-but-grateful lefse makers are reflecting on life and the wonder of the sun emerging as the snow ends. Lefse has inspired all three of them to make up verse throughout the day, and now Amaya and then Mrs. Taylor each add one more verse. Mrs. Taylor, who grew up in Mississippi and has a different appreciation of snow than most folks from the North, has probably the best line in the book with her verse.
Papa closed the barn door. The late afternoon was now tinted with a dreamy, peachy light. It was still snowing, but the sun was pressing its way through the clouds from the west. Reds and oranges and yellows and pinks were everywhere. Even floating snowflakes carried flecks of paint. Mrs. T and I were gaping, and Papa stopped walking to the house and turned to look at us. Then he also looked at the sunset. None of us spoke until a rhyme came over me.
The sun . . . so fun; the snow’s the show.
Please let it last. . . . Don’t let it go.
Mrs. T and Papa smiled and nodded but did not speak.
The sun did not last, but we stood and stood and stood. The sun lowered, and the colors slowly dulled on the final few snowflakes.
“Mrs. Taylor,” said Papa, still looking at the sun, which was just on the roof of her house down the hill, “for a Mississippi girl, you must have had your fill of Old Man Winter.”
She smiled but never took her eyes off the horizon. Finally, she said in a sweet, low voice:
Rain has its rhythm, its charm, and its sound.
Its route is just straight, from the sky to the ground.
But a raindrop may wonder: Where is the romance?
Then winter gives water a chance to dance.
Final Rounds has much more of this kind of verse to complement a heart-rending story that, like grief, is sad and sweet. I won’t see the pages of the book again until it is actually a bound book—mid-August! Very exciting time!