by Jason Gilmore
Somewhere Between Here and There is the story of Corey Oakley and Melissa Forrester, headstrong teenagers who meet and bond over their desire to escape life in mid-1990s Toledo, Ohio, where twin traps of violence or complacency await them at every turn. As Jason Gilmore chronicles the mercurial but genuine progression of their unlikely friendship across colleges, states and relationships, he creates an engaging portrait of religion, sex, ambition, loyalty, adulthood and the cost of dreams. Somewhere Between Here and There is one of the most dazzling coming-of-age novels to emerge in recent American literature.
Excerpt from Somewhere Between Here and There
It was the longest quick trip of my life. But I was calm all the way there: across 80 East through Ohio, skirting the perimeter of bumpy, useless West Virginia, detouring before the frenzied DC beltway. But there was something about actually arriving on campus – about seeing all the fresh faces and impending freedom – that made me realize I had to ditch my dad.
“That’s pretty much it,” he said. I guessed I should’ve been more appreciative, since he’d carried all my crap up to the third floor and down the hall pretty much by himself. Not to mention that he’d driven me there in the first place.
“Yeah,” I said, hoping he’d get the hint, “it is.”
“Sure you don’t need anything else?” he said. “It’s gonna take you a while to unpack and get everything set up.”
“No, that’s okay,” I said. I opened the front door, thinking it might be helpful.
“Make sure you get this cleared out by the time your roommate gets here. You know what I always tell you about first impressions.”
“Okay, Dad.” I grabbed his arm and guided him towards the door. “My roommate won’t be here until the fall.”
“Melissa, if I can speak on your mom’s behalf, we’re both very proud of you. You’ve been such a good daughter.”
Now he wanted to turn this into an after school special. And when did he ever speak on Mom’s behalf? Christ, why hadn’t he left yet??
“Dad, thank you. But you’ve got a long drive ahead of you. You need to get back on the road.”?He gave me this puzzled look, like he didn’t know he was leaving. He looked out the window. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”?
I hugged and kissed him. He probably thought I was going to walk him to the car. I didn’t. I hurt him, probably, I was sure. But he was a parent. Wasn’t the first time, wouldn’t be the last. I couldn’t linger there, there was too much to do. And Toledo had wasted enough of my time.
I spent 18 years as a larva. It was time to become a butterfly.
It was like I finally learned how to breathe. Or like I already knew how to breathe but couldn’t, and someone saw me writhing on the shore and tossed me back into the ocean. That summer, Virginia might have been the loveliest place on earth. The leaves on the trees were particular shades of green and red that I had never seen before and never knew existed. Students of countless races milled in and out of Neo-classically designed buildings. The sun was radiant, but merciful. Slight breezes swept through unannounced. Though the campus was barely occupied, the student union buzzed. My fellow freshmen staggered about, exuberant but raw, like newborn colts. They played pool, yelled over the Michael Jackson song on the jukebox, exchanged phone numbers. We just didn’t have these kind of outlets back home. Where else could I meet a girl like Rodricka Hughes? Army brat, graduated first in her class in Richmond, fluent in German, obsessed with Aaliyah like me. Who in my Toledo inner circle was going to introduce me to a guy like Phil Brand? White and freckled and a biochemistry major, who had already interned as a radiologic technologist at Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital? These people were more interesting than most of the people I went to high school with after only ten minutes of conversation. The loud, black girl with the New York accent over by the southeast pool table, for example.
( Continued… )
© 2012 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Jason Gilmore. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author’s written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offense. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Share a link to this page or the author’s website if you really like this sneak peek.
Meet the Author
Jason Gilmore was born and raised on the west side of Toledo, Ohio and educated at the University of Pittsburgh. His writing has appeared in Gadfly, at Turner Classic Movies’ MovieMorlocks.com and VH-1’s HipHopHonors.com. His short films have aired on national television and at numerous film festivals. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter.
Genre: Literary fiction, Coming-of-age