Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of reading the latest work from Emma Eden Ramos, Still, At Your Door, which I reviewed in February. It is not only a story about a young girl, Sabrina Gibbons, who wants a normal family life, but also a young lady looking for herself among the wreckage of her family and in the world around her. A Streetcar Named Desire plays a strong role in the story, but it is by no means a retelling — it becomes a way for the author to parallel Tennessee Williams‘ work. Bri’s mother is like Blanche the main character in the play, clinging to her youth as much as she can, even as it slips away. But this is Bri’s story.
I really enjoyed this ambitious work that explores not only coming of age in a broken home, but also bipolar disorder and its effect on the family. For more on Ramos’ psychology angle and thoughts on her writing, check out my interview with her.
Here’s the synopsis of the novel:
Sabrina “Bri” Gibbons has only a few short minutes to pack her things and help her sisters pack theirs before running with their mother to the bus that will whisk them away from Butler, Pennsylvania, an abusive relationship, and a secret that none of them wish to acknowledge. She was not prepared, though, for her mother to drop them on the streets of New York with the promise that she would be right back. Haunted by the sight of her mother running back to the cab, Bri, with Missy and Grace in tow, settles in with their grandparents. Thoughts of her present and her future collide with memories of her past, her dead father, and her mother’s bizarre episodes. She watches her sisters struggle with school and acceptance, all the while knowing the lack of any sense of security will make it impossible for them to carry on as ‘normal’ children. She finally lets her guard down enough to allow someone else in and sees a faint glimmer that her dreams might be attainable. Disaster strikes again, this time targeting her sister. Is it possible for Bri to find that balance between her dreams and her family’s realities?
She’s received great reviews from the likes of the San Francisco Book Review. “While there at first seems to be a deficiency in description and character and world development, surprisingly, Still At Your Door becomes one of those unique stories where less is more. This quick read flows smoothly from beginning to end, and is filled with glimpses of how life ought to be, but how for three young girls it greatly missed the mark. It provides readers with a deeper understanding of the physical and emotional effects of mental illness on the family as a whole and the need for broader awareness to allow children to maintain their childhood in innocence. This beautifully written book is one I would recommend for readers of any age,” Kim Heimbuch said in the review.
For those of you who are in the United States, I’m offering 1 copy of Still, At Your Door by Emma Eden Ramos to a lucky reader who comments before Oct. 31, 2014.