THE AWESOME: Janice, a rebuttal
4 years ago
THE AWESOME: Janice, a rebuttal.
The awesomely-awesome THE AWESOME is now out in the UK, US and Canada. To honour this final publication date we asked the inspiration behind the incredible Janice from the title (aka Eva Darrows’ own mom) for a few words on what it’s like to be fictionalised, and what can we say – clearly the author apple didn’t fall far from the tree as she turned in a beautiful, poignant and suitably kickass reply.
How awesome is THE AWESOME? Sassy, irreverent, and fast paced, it hijacks the reader for a thrill ride that doesn’t end until the last page.
I am a fan—and not just because my daughter wrote it. I am a fan for a more important reason- it explores the world of a successful atypical family. It celebrates our family.
You see- I am Janice. My-daughter-the-author is Maggie. When the author was about the same age as Maggie, she and I lived in a 200 year old New England farmhouse, surrounded by acres of corn fields. This crumbling, majestic relic housed the two of us, plus our menagerie of cats, dogs, birds, fish plus the occasional curious opossum or skunk that decided Willowbrook Farm was a cool place to call home.
I was a young mother- my daughter was born before my nineteenth birthday. I was divorced. (Did you know that making life decisions-like marriage- at age eighteen is stupid?) So here we are, living on the farm…a girl-child and her girl-Mom. No, I didn’t have pink hair, and I didn’t have sex with a vampire (one would remember that, right?), but I was the spoiled Prom Queen who morphed into a single Mom in the blink of an eye, who had to grow up uber fast because there was never enough money. Child support was non-existent. (Did I mention my ex-husband Prince Charming ended up being a peckerhead deadbeat? No??) Did you know kids need to eat, kids need new shoes, kids need new glasses? I worked multiple jobs to make ends meet- for a decade it felt like all I did was work. I had a brand-new, nasty chip on my shoulder, a quick temper, and a smart, sarcastic mouth that was my armor through those difficult days.
I also had a brilliant teen daughter. Her mind worked in cosmic circles that far transcended my own abilities. She was a capable but lazy student, a good kid with a big brain and a big heart, and for that I am grateful. She was both belligerent and sensitive. Storm clouds threatened her sunny skies just about every day. Our relationship was tested by epic battles that used sharp, smart words as weapons. Her enormous intellect would try to triumph over my stubborn, mulish disposition, which resulted in some hammer-and-tong battles that still echo in my inner ear.
In retrospect, I look back with pride at our tiny family of two. We fought, we struggled, we challenged each other, but we were as cohesive a family as any other that I knew. More conventional families had heartaches that we did not. Mom vs. Dad struggles, warring siblings, competitive parenting (such as trophy birthday parties!) were non-existent in our world. We had our own issues, we dealt with them.
The process was not pretty, but the job got done. I am one of those weird people that believe adversity teaches a soul to appreciate happiness, even in its humblest form. Hard fought battles build character. Working for something gives that something value. We had each other, and ultimately, it was plenty good enough.
Looking back, I wish that I hadn’t had to work so much, so I could have enjoyed this Brainiac Child of mine. Time passes like a runaway horse. But the reality is, we’d probably be arguing about her umpteenth lost pair of glasses, or why she would benefit by putting down the book and going outside to play with the neighborhood kids. She would roll her eyes and stomp her feet in frustration- I would stick my tongue out at her- or worse.
Janice and Maggie might fight, but ultimately they both win. They might lock horns, but they recognize that they are a team. Janice and Maggie aren’t conventional, but they work. We know, because we lived that life. Hold on and enjoy the ride, ladies!
I like to think that our life together- our formative years- helped forge the witty, wonderful, intellectually nimble, funny- as -hell woman she has become. That makes it all worthwhile.
In the next book, I hope to see Maggie and Janice at it again, fighting the good fight- together.