The Barnes & Noble sat on the other side of the shopping center from Trader Joe’s. After I had finished purchasing a few groceries, I started to make my way across the ample parking lot, moving towards the far edge to get to the bike path to walk back to my current housesit. I never go into the chain bookstores, because if I’m going to purchase a book, I want to support my local indie bookshops. But the one book I was curious to read was The Art of Floating, by Kristin Bair O’Keeffe and she had mentioned online that her book was widely available through Barnes & Noble.
Kristin and I are online acquaintances – ever since she spent a few years blogging about her experiences as a “trailing spouse” in Shanghai and I started blogging here on this site about my travels. Somehow our paths had crossed and now we keep up to date on our comings and goings through our venn diagram of social media. I like supporting my peeps, and I like engaging with projects that are done by people I know or at least are familiar with, so it wasn’t a matter of if I was going to read her book, but when.
As I walked on my normal path towards the housesit, I suddenly thought that I should make a detour and see if this Barnes & Noble had a copy of her latest novel. Books are not something I can budget for these days, not even used ones, and I was more curious in that moment just to see if the book was on the store shelf. As I turned off of my normal path of habit, I thought to myself, How would I pay for it? If I could find twenty dollars as I walk across this parking lot, I’ll be able to buy her book.
I wasn’t half way through the parking lot before I found a green piece of paper on the pavement with a twenties all over it. I was shocked! I didn’t miss a step as I bent down to pick it up and put it in my pocket. That is just crazy. Synchronous. Cool. But crazy. I went into the book store and there the book was, on the shelf. It was even forward facing. But I couldn’t bring myself to buy it. A twenty dollar bill is so precious. I was still shocked by the finding of it, so I left the store without the book and continued back to the house.
A few days later, after my floating spirit descended a bit, I thought to myself, the Universe is never going to give me any more money when I request it if I don’t use what I do get to buy the things I asked for in the first place. So, off I went, back to Barnes & Noble.
Lost twenty. Found twenty.
I am so very lost. I have been for a while now. So it was probably appropriate that I read a novel about things lost and things found and a woman who floats.
~ The Art of Floating ~
Sia Dane is a well-known writer living in a small coastal New England town and has lost her husband. He one day just up and disappeared. As I read, I tacked to and fro through the last year and a half of her empathic, although at most times realistic and humorous, grieving life, with her family and friends and her neighbors and townspeople. Everyone knew her husband and loved him. Everyone knows Sia as well and they seem to love her too. One day as Sia and her dog Gumper are taking their morning walk on the beach, they find a silent stranger man. Of course she takes him home. Because there wouldn’t be a story if she didn’t. The story bobs back and forth between the missing husband and the found man and the grieving wife looking for answers. Everyone in the story though is looking to find something – objects, love, sanity …
The chapters were also written in a style that is accessible to those of us with newly developed short attention spans. The short chapters, which were perfectly written, were a breeze to read and a few hours went by before I even looked up at the clock. Not as floaty or dreamy as I was thinking it might be, the book was more grounded in living life.
By the second chapter I was fully engaged with the story, going back and forth in non-linear time to get the whole story of Sia’s grief of losing her beloved husband and the synchronicity of finding a man who was grieving in his own way for his own personal loss. Stories about small town interactions between family and friends always draw me in, especially if they are tolerant of any one of the relatable character’s quirks, flaws, or eccentricities, as this town is.
It was beautiful to see that Gumper – a real life someone that we came to know on facebook – was written into and immortalized in the story.