It's Friendship Month at Chick Lit Central! To help us kick it off, debut novelist Leah Ferguson is here to talk about one of her best friends. And Berkley has THREE copies of her novel, All the Difference, for some lucky US readers!
Born on Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland and raised in Carlisle, Leah Ferguson moved to Philadelphia for college, stayed there to work, thought about moving to San Francisco, and ended up in downtown Baltimore. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her Baltimorean husband and two young daughters, toddler son, a very large husky and a tailless cat. Leah's focus is on women's fiction, and has a writing voice that is bright and sarcastic, introspective and thoughtful. All the Difference staretd out as a little NaNoWriMo project was edited to within an inch of its life over the course of three and a half years. Visit Leah at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.
Synopsis of All the Difference:
New Year’s Eve. A time for resolutions. A chance to make a change. And for thirty-year-old Molly Sullivan, a night that will transform her life forever…
All it takes is one word—yes or no—to decide Molly’s future. As the clock counts down to midnight and the ball slowly begins to drop, Molly’s picture-perfect boyfriend gets down on one knee and asks her to marry him. She knows she should say yes, especially considering the baby-sized surprise she just discovered she’s carrying. But something in her heart is telling her to say no…
Now, Molly’s future can follow two very different paths: one where she stays with her baby’s father, despite her misgivings and his family’s unreasonable expectations, and one where she ventures out on her own as a single mother, embracing all the hardships that come with it.
And by the time the next New Year is rung in, Molly will know which choice was right—following her head or listening to her heart... (Courtesy of Berkley Publishing.)
I’d like to talk with you about one of my best friends. She entered my world at one of the most crucial times in my life, and from the moment we met, our relationship grew together as easily as one of those crossword puzzles you find in the back of a trashy magazine and finish in three seconds flat. It didn’t take long for me to assume she was going to be one of those in-it-for-the-long-haul friends, the bestie I’d talk with as easily at sixty-five as I did when I was thirty-five. I figured she’d be the friend who cried on my shoulder now when our babies gave us trouble, and would do it again in twenty years when those same babies graduate from college. In my debut novel All the Difference, the main character, Molly, has a best friend named Jenny who’s been in her life for years. The woman I’m describing now was my Jenny: a friend-friend. The only, teeny problem? We don’t speak anymore. Yes, I’m confused, too.
We met in a library one day years ago after a mommy-and-me reading program. We had no business taking infants to this thing, but it was just so nice to get out and and interact with other human adults that it didn’t matter at all that our babies would rather chew on their carriers than listen to Corduroy. We ended up talking in the parking lot that morning for ages, and I found her fascinating. Her intense blue eyes held on to mine with interest. She wore Dansko clogs that I would never pull off in a million years, and when I admired a hat she placed onto her son’s head, she said that she’d knitted it herself, and that knitting wasn’t as hard as I thought (it is, I swear it is. So much counting). We were both former teachers, exhausted and worn out and so, so tired from the constant breastfeeding and endless nights and four walls of our own homes. We liked sugar, and baking, and reading up a storm. We were stay-at-home moms trying to find our way in this new wilderness of parenthood. When I ran into her a couple of weeks later at a different program (at a different library, no less. Desperate times call for desperate measures, you know) and found out she and her son went to the same music program I’d wanted to join with my daughter, I saw the look in her eye that recognized the thought in my heart: Ah, is what it said. Here might be my friend.
We had so much in common: the identity crises that came with leaving a service career where we impacted scores of kids in order to take care of one child, 24 hours a day. The slight resentment that mixed in with the love of our (admittedly kind, supportive, smart) husbands who got to leave the house for their jobs and travel and eat lunches that weren’t pb&j and Pirate’s Booty. The yearning for something else, something more—writing for me, a bakery for her—both of us knowing full well the guilty luxury of being able to actually choose what we’d want to do next, once the babies didn’t need us as much anymore. We both had a penchant for entertainment magazines (US Weekly for her, People for me), and could talk as deeply about Kim Kardashian’s butt as we did about No Child Left Behind. She read so, so much, and tore through books more quickly than she could recommend them to me, the former English teacher. She impressed me as much as she suited me.
So, yes, this friend and I had a lot in common: enough to make us close restaurants after meeting for dinner, than chat some more in the parking lot until we were the only ones standing in the dark beside our cars (which first were SUVs, then, as our families grew, minivans). But it was her encouragement of my dream that made her the friend—she was there in the beginning, encouraging me to write, reading my blog, talking, talking, talking about what could happen with the book. She was the one who knew and believed, but more importantly, asked. She asked questions, and listened to the answers. Most of us only half-listen to one another, ready to jump in with a response before the other person’s even finished her thought. My friend? She sat. She listened. She asked some more. If ever there was a light that went off in my head, it did with her—she was it. And the day she broke down in yet another parking lot—this time after a playdate at a local park—when she broke down into tears and just wept from exhaustion and possible depression and a horrible feeling of being done after her second daughter was born and refusing to sleep—that was the day, I believe, that I was her friend, too. For listening. For asking questions. For listening and asking some more. I became her friend-friend. I was her Jenny.
But we are not friends anymore, this woman and I. No, there was no fight. And nope, we didn’t have some big blow-up in the driveway of one our (old, small, “starter”) homes over a silly miscommunication. It just became…done. She suffered a personal loss, and grieved more than I understood at the time. I thought I was there for her, but looking back, it wasn’t enough. Then her husband got a great job in another state, and she moved. She stopped sending texts as often. I got pregnant with my third child, and the texts stopped altogether. She barely acknowledged my son’s birth. I sent her a first draft of my first novel, one she’d cheered, and she never read it. I still don’t know if she threw the manuscript out or if it’s hanging around her house in a drawer or if she just uses the blank sides of the papers to make grocery lists. After my son was born, I sent her an email—hormonal, sad, frightened of losing the friend I thought was the friend—asking if we could talk about what happened. I needed my friend. I missed her terribly. She was the one who’d text me at 11 p.m., chatting like we would at the dining table of each other’s houses. She’s the one I’d turn to with questions, and funny stories, and cries for help about this child behavior or that recipe. The void that was gone when she left—really left, I mean, body and spirit and texts and all—left a gaping hole. I’d counted on her to be my friend. Moreover, I thought we were. If she could just vanish like that—if she was okay if I vanished, too—were we ever friends at all?
She was my friend once. She was my friend when we needed each other so. She was my cheerleader and my sounding board and my rock and my constant, pretense-free friend. She, though, was not my friend-friend. She isn’t my Jenny after all. But for a while there, she was pretty darned close, and I guess that’s as good as anything.
Thanks to Leah for sharing her thoughts on her friendship with us and to Berkley for sharing her book with our readers.
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US only. Giveaway ends September 7th at midnight EST.