Saturday, May 29, 2010
For so many reasons, it wasn't that for me.
Consider (among so much else), this: I spent an Egmont-sponsored lunch rotating through tables with actor/Laura Geringer author/activist James Lecesne (I struggled with the listing of those attributes; James is all three, equally, and more). We interviewed each other. We discovered intersections. We looked across the table and saw, in each other, an author who cares, first and foremost, about kids.
He went off to his thing after that, and I went off to mine, and by fluke and accident and perhaps fate, we ended up on the same train going home. I had his book, Virgin Territory, in hand. He had Dangerous Neighbors. I have long nurtured a dream of seeing someone read one of my books on a train. James was my first sighting. I doubt it gets better than that.
When you adore someone, you want, you ache, to adore their book. James makes that easy with Virgin Territory. It's a book about a boy who has lost his mother and has a trembling relationship to faith. A book about a town, Jupiter, Florida, that is rearranged by a possible sighting of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the face of a golf-course tree. Faith seekers flock to the tree. A carnivalesque atmosphere ensues. Dylan, our hero, finds himself among new friends who believe that miracles erupt amidst the stirring of two things: great desire and surrender to risk.
Supremely fluid, generous, and original, Virgin Territory is well made; it is seamless. It takes the time to unfold characters that are new, complex, easily liked. It paces perfectly—speeds up, slows down. Its pieces fit its pieces, if you know what I mean.
You don't find many books like this—YA or otherwise. And you don't find many people like James. Buy the book and read it. And after you do that (or before, if you insist), check out this trailer from the extraordinary documentary, After the Storm, which features James in a glorious Mad Hot Ballroom kind of tale about a musical that helps restore the kids of New Orleans.