Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Laura Moriarty's "The Rest of Her Life"

Laura Moriarty is the author of two novels, The Center of Everything and the just-released The Rest of Her Life.

She applied the "Page 99 Test" to the new novel and reported the following:
Page 99 in The Rest of Her Life marks the end of a chapter, so it only has eight lines of text on it. But I have to say, the story's major conflict might very well be contained in those eight lines. The novel is about a high school senior who accidentally hits and kills a pedestrian. The story is narrated by the driver's mother, who has a fragile relationship with her high-achieving, idealistic daughter even before the accident. The daughter has always had a strong relationship with her father, however, and so the mother has grown used to feeling left out around the two of them, though she has never completely understood why she feels alienated from her daughter.

After the accident, however, the family dynamic starts to change. And sure enough (Ford Madox Ford is perhaps on to something) that change starts to occur on page 99. The narrator, her husband, and their daughter have just returned from meeting with a lawyer to discuss the legal consequences of the accident, and while the parents are reasonably concerned with possible criminal and civil cases, the daughter is too consumed by guilt to worry about her future. After announcing to her parents that she will not take a diversion as the lawyer suggested, she surprises her parents by turning to her mother, not her father, for understanding. The narrator is slow to understand why her daughter, with whom she has never been able to feel close, would suddenly seek support from her in particular.
Read an excerpt from The Rest of Her Life and learn more about the book at Laura Moriarty's website.

--Marshal Zeringue