Milk by Emily Hammond

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"I wake up and remember", begins Theodora Mapes, the quick-witted, endearing narrator of Emily Hammond's first novel. What follows is the story of Theo's journey from Colorado to California in search of the truth about her past. Recently separated from her husband and newly pregnant, Theo has come back to California looking for answers, not only about herself, but also about her mother who committed suicide when Theo was a child. Answers that must include the circumstances of the mysterious death of an infant sister, Charlotte, so many years ago. "Why would a baby die?" Our father gave the same long explanation each time, about how children in the olden days weren't as healthy as you kids now -- and then he would list all the illnesses. Diptheria, scarlet fever, small-pox, influenza, consumption. I always listened for the name of our sister's disease, wondering what she had, why she had died. Only once did I get up the courage to ask: did Charlotte have diptheria or influenza? No, my father said, looking as solemn as I'd ever seen him. Sometimes babies died, he said, died in their sleep". In California, she reconnects with family members, her dottily distant father, "the world's last puritan", her enduring Aunt Lyla, the sister of Theo's dead mother, and Theo's older brother, Corb, upright and successful, determined to keep the door of their past firmly closed. Old friends surface, in particular Gregg, a former boyfriend whose sexy and reliable presence offers Theo comfort. But Theo is not yet willing to disclose her pregnancy to him nor to her husband, Jackson, who seeks a reconciliation. Impressively crafted, "Milk" is a complex story, by turns funny, sad, and inspiring.Award-winning short story writer Emily Hammond examines the bonds that rattle family, past and present.

About Emily Hammond

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Emily Hammond's "Breathe Something Nice", a story collection, was selected for the Barnes & Noble discover Great New Writers series. Her fiction has received a Colorado Council on the Arts grant & the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction. She now lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her husband & two children.
Published October 24, 2001 by Permanent Pr Pub Co. 256 pages
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Then Theo finds her mother’s letters and discovers that not only had her grandfather raped Marian and younger sister Lyla, he’d done the same to four-year-old Theo.

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For most visitors, the only thing overtly Australian about the Milk Bar is an accent occasionally emanating from its kitchen.

May 15 2012 | Read Full Review of Milk

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