It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Today's Wild Card author is:
and her book:
Tyndale House Publishers (April 23, 2008)
I'll admit, the first few chapters threw me. Not because they were uninteresting or poorly written, it was the style. The book is written from multiple points of view, which is fine. It's also written in first person present tense for the main character and third person present tense for everyone else. Wow, that was a new one for me and it took a little while to get used to. But once I did, I was lost in the story. This is the first Angela Hunt book I've read, although I have heard wonderful things about her writing. Turns out they were all correct. Her plot and characterization is really good. This book has something for everyone and what a unique perspective to make the main character a mortician.
Side note: I now insist on being cremated. I don't want to be embalmed and prepped for a coffin. I think it's wonderful that morticians can do so much to make a person look presentable to that the grieving can say goodbye. But, for me, just cremate me. My family will understand. :)
Back to the important stuff, Angela manages to tackle several big items: abortion, divorce, trust in God, judging and charity. Just to name a few. Seeing the list, you might wonder how a story can be interesting and compelling if it's just a sermon on paper? Only it's not a sermon. It's a captivating, compelling story full of emotion and humor and, yes, even a little suspense. It really has something for everyone. Angela Hunt really is as good as I heard.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Christy-Award winner Angela Hunt writes for readers who have learned to expect the unexpected in novels from this versatile author. With over three million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the best-selling author of more than 100 works ranging from picture books (The Tale of Three Trees) to novels.
Now that her two children have reached their twenties, Angie and her husband live in Florida with Very Big Dogs (a direct result of watching Turner and Hooch and Sandlot too many times). This affinity for mastiffs has not been without its rewards--one of their dogs was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly as the second-largest canine in America. Their dog received this dubious honor after an all-expenses-paid trip to Manhattan for the dog and the Hunts, complete with VIP air travel and a stretch limo in which they toured New York City.
Afterward, the dog gave out pawtographs at the airport.
Angela admits to being fascinated by animals, medicine, psychology, unexplained phenomena, and “just about everything” except sports. Books, she says, have always shaped her life— in the fifth grade she learned how to flirt from reading Gone with the Wind.
Her books have won the coveted Christy Award, several Angel Awards from Excellence in Media, and the Gold and Silver Medallions from Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award. In 2007, her novel The Note was featured as a Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel. Romantic Times Book Club presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
In 2006, Angela completed her Master of Biblical Studies in Theology degree and completed her doctorate in 2008. When she’s not home reading or writing, Angie often travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers’ conferences. And to talk about her dogs, of course.
Visit her at her website.
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
The nameless cadaver on the cover of my anatomy textbook—a middle-aged man who is no longer black, white, or brown—would be counted among the orange in a census of the embalmed.
Someone should have adjusted the tint before they juiced him.
I flip the book open and study the color photographs of the cadaver’s aortic arch and brachiocephalic veins, then close my eyes and try to commit the multisyllable words to memory. Here I am, near the end of my first semester of mortuary school, and I’m still having trouble keeping my veins and arteries straight.
Behind me, an irate mother in the carpool line is honking, though we have a good three minutes before kindergarten dismissal. She probably has to pick up her child and get back to work before the end of her lunch hour. While I sympathize with her impatience, I wish she’d lay off the horn so I can concentrate.
I open one eye and examine the book propped on my steering wheel. The right internal jugular branches off the right and left brachiocephalic veins, which lie outside the brachiocephalic trunk. Brachiocephalic sounds like some kind of dinosaur. Bugs would like that word.
I turn the book sideways, but the photograph on the page looks nothing like a prehistoric animal. In fact, I find it hard to believe that anything like this jumble of tunnels and tubes exists in my body, but skin covers myriad mysteries.
I snap the book shut as the bell at Round lake elementary trills through the warm afternoon. The kindergarten classes troop out into the sunshine, their hands filled with lunch boxes and construction paper cutouts. The tired teachers stride to the curb and peer into various vehicles, then motion the appropriate children forward.
My spirits lift when my red-haired cherub catches my eye and waves. Bradley “Bugs” graham waits until his teacher calls his name and skips toward me.
“Hey, Mom.” He climbs into the backseat of the van as his teacher holds the door.
“Hey yourself, kiddo.” I check to make sure he’s snapped his seat belt before smiling my thanks at his teacher. “Did you have a good morning?”
“Yep.” He leans forward to peek into the front seat. “Do we hafta go home, or can we stop to get a snack?”
My thoughts veer toward the to-do list riding shotgun in the front passenger seat. I still have to run to the grocery store, swing by the dry cleaner’s to pick up Gerald’s funeral suit, and stop to see if the bookstore has found a used copy of Introduction to Infectious Diseases, Second edition. Textbooks are usually pricey, but medical textbooks ought to come with fixed-rate mortgages. Still, I need to find that book if I’m going to complete my online course by the end of the semester.
“I’ll pull into a drive-through,” I tell Bugs, knowing he won’t mind. “You want McDonald’s?”
He nods, so I point the van toward Highway 441.
“Mr. Gerald make any pickups today?” Bugs asks.
I ease onto the highway, amazed at how easily my children have accepted the ongoing work of the funeral home. “none today.”
I glance in the rearview mirror and see Bugs waving his construction paper creation. “Yes.”
“It’s a stegosaurus. Can I give it to Gerald?”
“I think he’d like that.” I force a smile as an unexpected wave of grief rises within me. like a troublesome relative who doesn’t realize she’s worn out her welcome, sorrow often catches me by surprise. Gerald, the elderly embalmer at Fairlawn, has become a surrogate father for my sons. Thomas, my ex-husband and my children’s father, has been gone for months, but in some ways he’s never been closer. He lies in the Pine Forest Cemetery, less than two miles from our house, so we can’t help but think of him every time we drive by.
I get Bugs a vanilla ice cream cone at the McDonald’s drive-through, and then we run to the grocery store and the dry cleaner. I’ll call the bookstore later. no sense in going there when a simple phone call will suffice.
Finally we turn into the long driveway that leads to the Fairlawn Funeral Home.
Gerald has poured a new concrete pad next to the garage, and as I park on it, Bugs notices that the call car is gone. “uh-oh.” He looks at me. “Somebody bit the dust.”
I press my lips together. A couple of months ago I would have mumbled something about the old station wagon maybe needing a wash, but now I know there’s no reason to shield my children from the truth—we are in the death care industry. The squeamishness I felt when we first arrived vanished the day I walked into the prep room and gloved up to help Gerald lay out my ex-husband.
“Come in the house,” I tell my son. “I’ll pour you a glass of milk.”