Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lucia Greenhouse’s "fathermothergod"

Lucia Greenhouse, a graduate of the Emma Willard School and Brown University, lives with her husband and four children in Westchester County, New York.

She applied “Page 99 Test” to fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science, her first book, and reported the following:
I was skeptical about the Page 99 test, and then, before I even snuck a peak at my most important (my only) page 99, I felt defensive. As a first-time author, the notion that “the quality of the whole” of an arbitrarily assigned page could be a litmus test for an entire book scared the heck out of me: what if page 99 happened to be the weakest page of my book? What if it marked nothing more than a divider page, or whatever those blank pages are called? What if avid Page 99ers tested fathermothergod and decided, based on that score alone, not to read further (or, more aptly, not to flip back to page 1?) My stomach was in knots. I cursed Ford Madox Ford.

But then curiosity took over. I opened, roughly, to the first third of the book, (fathermothergod is slightly over 300 pages long) and quickly found 99. I started reading. I stopped reading. I smiled. And I was stunned. The central conflict of fathermothergod jumped off the page.
“I’m just going upstairs to read a bit,” she attempts to say casually, as though tonight is an average evening, not Christmas Eve. But her voice cracks, and she clears her throat. Dad follows right behind her.

Olivia, Terry, Sherman, and I are left staring at the doorway.

“What do you think is wrong?” I ask in a lowered voice.

“She’s been upstairs practically all afternoon,” Olivia says.

“She looks awful,” Sherman says.

Perhaps because Terry is still new to the family, he keeps quiet.

“What are we going to do?” Olivia asks.

Later that night, I can’t sleep. I lie in my bed on my right side, facing the empty twin bed where my sister used to sleep. Now she is downstairs on the pullout sofa with Terry. I remember the month before, when we were at Aunt Nan and Uncle Dave’s home in Connecticut for Thanksgiving. Mom had been under the weather then too. Sherman, Mom, Dad, and I had driven out from the city together, with a stopover as usual at the Christian Science church in Pleasantville for its Thanksgiving service. Mom stood up to give a testimony, which was standard, but her words, come to think of it, were not.

“Sometimes,” she said, grasping the pew in front of her, “healings are instantaneous. And other times, they are slower to come to fruition. I am so grateful for the healing power of Divine Science.”

My gut tightens, and a feeling of panic grips me. I realize this illness may well have been going on for a while.
Learn more about the book and author at Lucia Greenhouse's website.

--Marshal Zeirngue