My Name Is Rose
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: March 15th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Rose is unsettled, curious, and bored. Life in a hippie commune is her parent’s dream come true, not hers. She doesn’t share their passion for living off the land, nor does she enjoy the isolation that is thrust upon her. When she convinces them to send her to public school in the nearby town, a new world opens up to her.
As she pursues her education, Rose chooses a different path, leaving her parents heartbroken at her insistence they are hiding something from her. She’s convinced her father isn’t the man her mother married.
Although she finds love far away from her roots and upbringing, her wounds only deepen as she keeps her family at arm’s length. What she loses during those years can only be retrieved with her understanding that “a Rose by any other name is still a Rose.”
Goodreads / Amazon
Excerpt – Chapter 3
DESTINY WAS BEAUTIFUL. I turned in her direction when she started to speak, thinking how flawless her features appeared compared to mine. Her long, velvet brown hair was the same color as her mother’s. Perfect almond-shaped eyes, the deepest chocolate brown hue, reminded me of Hershey’s syrup. Her smile could light up a room, and she’d begun to understand how all these attributes could win her the attention of every boy in school. She favored her mother’s side of the family, Uncle Jacob being of sturdier stock, and a thick head of dark brown hair that hadn’t seen a pair of scissors for at least three years. He had brown eyes. I had brown eyes. River’s and Glory’s eyes were blue.
I could smell the heavenly aromas coming from the kitchen. The stove, a cast-off from better days in someone else’s house and notable for its olive green drab color, was in perfect condition. River and Uncle Jacob knew of a particular junkyard where all the wealthy people discarded their worldly possessions when they tired of the color, shape, or size, most outdated in five years or less. They made regular trips, eventually finding whatever we needed. They didn’t think they should ever have to pay for anything, as long as it was discarded. Whether cheap or frugal, I didn’t know yet, but it made me feel poor – too many hand-me-downs and nothing ever crossed our doorway with a price tag on it. Even our bathtub was salvaged, along with most of our furniture. Destiny’s house was the same. Our trips to Good Will and second-hand stores in town didn’t hold the same allure for us as they had when we were younger. When I asked Glory for a new pair of jeans or tennis shoes, she always reminded me that money didn’t grow on trees.
Yet for all their self-denial, River and Glory seemed content. Uncle Jacob and Aunt Fern appeared blissfully happy, as well. As I became more and more aware of my surroundings, I felt neither content nor blissfully happy. Most of the time I was bored and wondered if I would ever experience the world that beckoned beyond the commune. As much as my parents wanted to escape the outside world, I longed to join it.
Excerpt – Chapter 10
I THOUGHT IT INTERESTING that Glory never asked how I planned to pay for my college education and River never brought it up. I guess my mother didn’t share everything with him, and I didn’t want to ruin the glow she was wearing or tarnish the rare mother-daughter moment we had shared.
“Rose, do you have a moment?”
I pushed shoes and boots out of the way that made it harder than normal to bypass the heap. Winter downpours saturated the ground, one storm in particular almost tearing off the roof. Rain boots, down jackets, and wet towels were wedged between the threshold and the porch to keep water from seeping under the door. I kicked a path to the living room as I peeled off my wet jacket and lace-up boots.
“Of course, I do. Now?”
“Now would be good. Coffee’s on.”
My body tensed, hoping for no bad news.
“Sit.” Glory motioned to the couch. She had already arranged the pillows and cleared the coffee table of the piles of paper and envelopes that grew with every mail delivery. She didn’t seem upset or sad, but I still braced myself.
“I bet you think I wasn’t listening or cared when you told me about your acceptance to San Francisco State. I needed to talk to your father first. It took him awhile to agree and see the logic.”
She poured the coffee from the carafe into my two favorite mugs. I could tell she had prepared the scene.
“I wasn’t sure why River didn’t say anything to me. I tried to handle everything myself. Scholarships, tuition, room and board. It’s a lot. Counselors at school have been trying to help.”
“Now they don’t have to.” Glory removed a letter from the pocket of her apron and slowly opened it. The corners of her mouth turned upward, a wide smile emerged, and I prepared myself to hear something good.
“I never went to college. Not because I couldn’t get accepted or pay for tuition. My parents had started a college fund for me when I was born. Both of them threw it in my face the day I left home, and conversations between my mother and I have been scarce ever since.”
I thought I detected a change in Glory’s facial expression. My scalp started to tingle as I realized my mother was about to go somewhere that conjured up less than pleasant memories for her. She took a deep breath before reading the letter.
“I’m just going to read this letter I received from your grandmother the other day in response to the one I had written her. No need to go into too much detail.”
I sank deep into the fluffed pillows behind my back, pulled my knees up to my chin, and wrapped my hands around the steaming mug of coffee to thaw my hands and still my pounding heart. My mother began.
Excerpt – Chapter 1
We strolled together down the corridor, acclimating ourselves to the environs of dorm living. It would be loud, for sure. Freshmen, sophomores, a few juniors arrived in all shapes and sizes. Most of the girls looked fresh out of high school, and they probably felt as lost as we did. Some had already situated themselves in front of the TV set in the common area. Others took advantage of their last weekend of summer, checking out the activity board and bolting for the front door.
I marveled at the momentum and excitement that permeated the air and took a deep breath to still my thoughts. Had I been too hasty with my decision to leave the commune? Did my school girl fantasy of trying to come to grips with my parentage propel me into an environment where I didn’t belong?
I shrugged it off. I knew I had made the right decision.
Cecily and I continued to investigate our surroundings.
Almost in passing, more of a question to myself than to Cecily, I asked,” What do you think I would look like with short hair?”
I pulled at the uncombed ends, a head of hair that hadn’t been trimmed in a decade and had absolutely no style. It was just hair, lots of it, lackluster, drab, and long, in need of something different to coincide with my long-awaited sense of freedom…a more mature, post-high school appearance.
“I think you would look adorable. Open your face. People could see your eyes. They’re really pretty, Rose…so dark…very unusual.”
I startled. Nice of her to say.
I tried to imagine myself with hair that didn’t go past my waist. A short pixie – no, too drastic. Maybe a perm – not even my most rebellious self could justify a move that extreme.
The next morning I found a hairdresser close to campus, a wise choice I thought, since there was a line out the door by the time I arrived without an appointment. She convinced me that a blunt cut, shoulder length, feathered bangs, a slight undercut to create movement was what my perfect oval face needed.
I reluctantly followed her advice. I winced when she pulled all my hair away from my face, tied it loosely with a rubber band, and with one motion of her razor-sharp scissors, sheared off the entire mass of hair three inches below the knot. I could hear it sever every strand, like slicing bread, and watched it fall at my feet in a dull brown heap, ready to be swept up and thrown in the trash. Almost two decades of my identity, in five seconds, gone.
My face registered my shock and horror. I felt the chair slowly turn around, my back to the mirror, as the stylist prepared herself to take on the challenge. After what felt like hours, she finally removed the black cape, shook off the pieces of uneven, chopped waves and tendrils that clung to the plastic, and gently rotated the seat to reveal my image. Pleased with herself and waiting for my reaction, I squeezed my eyes shut. I was unsure if I might cry at the end result, a vision so unfamiliar, I was positive I would hate it. I regretted taking the plunge, and before I peered out from my new, shagged bangs brushed to the side just below my eyebrows, I held my breath and reassured myself that it was just hair. If I didn’t like it, even if I detested it or was embarrassed by it, it would always grow back. I took a deep breath and opened my eyes.
I followed my reflection in every store window all the way home. A few boys, ready to pursue conquests and casual victories, cast second glances in my direction. A totally new experience for me. I put my head down and walked quickly past, too fearful to engage in conversation or to stop to get acquainted, but by the time I reached my room, my confidence had soared.
“So cute!” shrieked Cecily when I flung open the door and presented myself to the only person who had seen both the before and after version of me.
Excerpt – Chapter 14
… I cut short my self-guided tour of college student filled apartment houses by the university and looked for the next entrance onto the freeway. I was a pretty good driver, having mastered a stick shift and parallel parking on the old truck at the commune. Still, I dreaded the drive into the city and the cramped streets, steep inclines, and lousy parking options in Grandmother’s neighborhood.
There was no such thing as a garage in those old Victorian homes and finding a nearby, open space on the street always proved to be a problem. People who grew up there had long gotten used to the inconvenience, but occasional visitors like myself experienced frustration and annoyance. It would be my luck that I would have to heave my belongings two blocks, if I was lucky enough to find a space at all.
As I turned the corner to the now familiar street, perched at the top of a steep decline into the city below, my breath suddenly stilled at the spectacular panoramic view before me. Even though the day had turned dull and the mist hovered over the Golden Gate Bridge, I was surrounded by brilliant architecture in every direction. Dozens of charming Victorian homes, the painted ladies, lined the streets in both directions, punctuated by corner markets and one-of-a-kind specialty shops. It was a testament to the influence on the history of California and the discerning eye of the builders who prompted the city’s growth. No wonder Andrew had chosen this ambition for his life’s work. I caught myself thinking about a wedding, then a sweet little first apartment, then one child, making our cramped quarters impossible for a growing family, then a move to the suburbs, neighborhood barbeques, another child, two cars….my mind raced and the light turned green.
My fantasy warmed me. I could physically feel joy in the pit of my stomach. I asked Destiny once, after we had gotten an almost-new pair of identical boots from the thrift store as a special treat before we started third grade, “Do you feel that, Des?”
“Feel what?” She hadn’t the vaguest idea of what I meant.
“That dancing in your tummy, silly! It’s like your insides are giggling.”
It felt delicious to me and ever since that time, a happy moment or extraordinary event could trigger my sense of well-being. My whole body would tingle with pleasure and delight with that feeling of joy.
I didn’t mind driving around the block four times before I found a place to park. I grabbed one suitcase, my wallet, keys, and bounded up Grandmother’s stairs, only slightly winded from the short sprint. I met her at the door with a huge grin, amused at my own story of happily ever after.
“You look flushed, Rose. Did you run all the way here?”
“I didn’t notice. I do feel a little warm, but I think I’m just excited to have finals over, spend the summer with Glory and River, and take a week off with you to do whatever we want. I’m excited about seeing Destiny, too. It’s been almost a year. I had to miss her wedding, because she planned it right in the middle of winter mid-terms, and her first baby is the end of summer.”
“Well, first things first.”
What did that mean? First things first? I was starting to see how generations change, each subsequent one holding on to the popular expressions that conveyed their thoughts. What was first to Grandmother was most likely not what was first to me, which was kicking off my shoes and checking the refrigerator for a Dr. Pepper.
“Yes, Grandmother, first things first.”
“Take off your coat and hang it on the hall tree. Your room is ready, so you can take your suitcase upstairs. Then, come on down and get yourself a cold drink. I got plenty of Dr. Pepper just for you.”
I smiled. We weren’t that far apart after all.
Alexa Kingaard was born in San Diego, CA and has lived most of her life in the area. She currently resides in Carlsbad and is the mother of an adult son and daughter who continue to be her biggest fans and cheerleaders. A realtor for fifteen years, she remains involved with her profession and praises her brokers and clients for giving her the nod to be creative.
She gives all the credit for completing her debut novel, KEEP FOREVER, to her inspiration and late ex-husband, Jeff, who battled the residual effects of the Vietnam War for decades after his return.
Her second novel, MY NAME IS ROSE, will be released through Acorn Publishing March 15, 2019.
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