Date: 06/08/2020 05:29 PM Title: IV. The cards we are dealt.
I was just reading through your responses to the previous reviews, and I'm so glad that I could help lighten the darkness of what's going on in the world, even if just in little bursts! I’m so very sorry you're dealing with some difficult stuff in your personal life, especially on top of the all hurt/anger, injustice and heartbreak going on right now in general. If I could give you a giant hug in real life I would.
Okay, review time:
She cradled my head against her chest as I cried in her arms, already fearing the worst. / "Now, how dare you give up hope so fast, my love," -- This was an absolute suckerpunch to my heart. How dare you for making me feel all the things!
And then this one: There was only one time that I saw her break down. It was a few weeks before she passed, on Poppy's third birthday, and she was upset because she was too weak to make her a birthday cake. -- HOLY. SHIT. I think there's just an empty cavity in my chest now...
The whole Snickerdoodles thing, and this: The simple act made Poppy giggle endlessly, and the light in Laura's eyes was always there, even when she was tired. <-- Not gonna lie, there were tears. I especially love that it's such a personal sentiment for you!
Laura fought the cancer as long as her body would allow her, but she was gone in less than a year's time, leaving me and our little girl behind in a crushing realm of sorrow. -- STUNNING, and absolutely devastating. The following two paragraphs too. There are actual goddamn tears streaming down my face right now. I am heartbroken, but jesuuus, WELL FRICKEN DONE!!
I opened my eyes to find my mother with tears in hers, but she blinked them back as she made her way towards me, placing a hand on my head and trailing her fingers through my hair. <-- I know I've mentioned my appreciation for your attention to detail in a previous review, but DAMN. This is such a simple gesture, but the affection and support are so blatant and powerful, and real.
While God may take one life from the world, He always grants it with another. <-- Ughhhhhh, my heart. The poetic beauty of this line coming around again. You are brilliant.
I am ready (I think) for the final three parts!
Sending you endless love,
(PS. Can I just add that I laughed because even your responses have incredible prose to them? You are an incredibly gifted writer - thank you for sharing that gift here on this ole' site again!)
Your reviews are truly wonderful to come back to. Thank you for leaving them.
The line about the birthday cake always gets me, too, and I wrote it! It's one of those details that is so small but packs SUCH an emotional wallop - because through Kevin's eyes he sees Laura do nothing but stay strong and positive, but it's the one moment where the reality of what they're both facing hits in such a way that Laura can't bear to hold up that image. She lets a crack show, lets Kevin see through to her own fear and anticipated grief.
My mom and I have always been very close, and Snickerdoodles were just a part of that closeness for us growing up. There can be such a strong bond between parents and their children, and the one that Kevin and Laura have with Poppy is that kind of bond. I wanted to show that, in a way, with Laura and Poppy sharing something sweet that my mom and I used to share.
The thing I liked about writing this chapter was diving into what grief looked like for Kevin. He is very lost and unable to make sense of what is happening in his life, but he has his family and his daughter to keep him going even when he doesn't want to. Grief can be all-consuming, and when we're in the thick of it, it's not always easy to see the way out. But his family stays close and present, keeping him tight within their circle. They let him grieve but try not to let him drown in it.
And then, of course, there's Joe and Deanna's news.
THAT was something really important to include here. I didn't want to wash over Kevin's grief, but I also wanted to show that even when we ARE grieving, the world keeps turning, and there are good things that can make us stop and go, wow. Yes, I'm hurting, but look at something great STILL happening despite that. And that's Deanna's pregnancy for Kevin. Finally, after months of not being able to see which way is up, a burst of good news makes him feel happiness without even questioning or resisting it. He just feels it, warm and overwhelming, and it makes sense.
And yeah, you know I had to bring that line back around. :)
Thank you for all of your compliments about my prose - even in my reviews, haha. Writing is the one thing in the world I feel like I know how to REALLY do, but I also have a million insecurities that still smack me upside the head from time to time and try to convince me to downplay my talent. It's nice to know that this story, despite being almost a decade old, has prose that is still nice to read. I've written even more since then and feel like as a writer, I'm always growing.
Thanks again for coming and leaving me reviews! I appreciate you so, so much, and I'm so glad that you've continued to love this story.
Date: 06/07/2020 03:47 AM Title: III. A lesson in mastery.
One particular morning, Laura took it upon herself to teach me how to braid Poppy's hair. Insisting it was something I needed to know how to do... -- I DON'T TRUST THIS*, even if it is adorable. Why do I feel like I'm gonna be done dirty soon?
If there was ever a sight to steal my heart, it was that one. -- My heart can't even.
Then, she picked Poppy up from the floor and lifted her above her head, twirling around on the soles of her feet and smiling up at our baby girl as she grinned and giggled and stole my breath. -- WOW.
With Laura, I had everything, and with Poppy to brighten our days with her smile, I felt invincible. -- *refer to comment from first quote. (And just that lower section altogether).
Your focus being elsewhere right now is understandable! I kind of feel like you shouldn't even have to apologize, tbh. Thank you for another chapter, period.
Hope you're doing okay mentally and stuff. <3
(PS. I hope you're down with the novel-like reviews, because I generally type it up as I'm reading. So they're kind of play-by-play reactions lol.)
First. The length of your reviews is FINE. WELCOME. You obviously never saw the ones I left on fics I read because there were paragraphs. PARAGRAPHS. I don't know how to shut up when I read things most of the time. I worry I'll forget to say something that needs to be said and then the next thing I know, I've written a page-long review. Whoops.
So do not worry about the length of your reviews. Long or short, I am happy to receieve them at all.
Second. The world is kind of on fire right now, and as a black woman I have been feeling a LOT. And as I said in my last response to your previous review, my personal life took a punch in the gut yesterday. But something that's been giving me small glimpses of joy and pulling me out of the darkness has been writing. I am rereading (or rather, listening) to one of my favorite series on audiobook and it's been so soul-soothing for me. Words are giving me comfort in this stressful, anxious time, and I am grateful for them. I continue to share my writing here in hopes that if someone else is looking to find comfort in someone else's words, perhaps they'll choose mine. And then this whole thing will be bigger than me, as it should be.
I don't blame you for not trusting. In fact, my goal with this part was to make sure you didn't trust me. I wanted you to feel comfortable, loved up, warm...but wary.
The invincibility part, from the last section - ominous and foreshadowing, but also the truth. Invincibility IS a fleeting emotion. When we are at our happiest, we truly feel like nothing can go wrong, that nothing can hurt us, that we are indestructible. But in reality, we're only human. And we can only bear so much.
I won't be able to stop thanking you for taking the time to leave me these. Thank you endlessly for sharing your thoughts, for connecting with me, for spending your personal time reading something I've written. It means the world to me.
Date: 06/07/2020 03:34 AM Title: II. Only the foolish fail to believe.
Honestly, with the prose. I mean, *chef's kiss*
This story is so easy to read in that you get lost in it, and it passes so quickly. I genuinely respect your ability to hit emotional beats and maintain such quick pace.
I applaud your attention to detail, because they flesh out the world so realistically and so beautifully. And your dialogue, jesusssssss. (Apologies if this is offensive?) Your. Beats. Are. So. Good. The way it reads is so real, and I love it.
The magnet/name thing was so damn clever. Wow.
I told her I was pretty sure I had known, too. <-- How is it possible that this confidence is endearing? Honestly, the hopeless romantic in me is so satisfied with this.
However, God and I were not on good terms. I damned Him, and cursed Him, and wished upon Him the same pain His thievery of Andrew had inflicted on me -- another WOW line. Seriously.
Remember what I said about 'iconic' lines in the last review? Here's one from this chapter: I know that while life is unfair, and cold, and dark, it is beautiful, and giving, and wonderful all the same, even if at times it feels as if your heart is being slammed into a thousand layers of concrete.
While God may take one life from the world, He always grants it with another. -- CHILLS.
Little bit of a story on my end: my mom ironically was talking to me just this morning about her uncle who ended up passing and taking his last breath as she had gone into labor with me. Damn. This line hit me hella (lol) hard.
Okay, in regards to your author's note: thank you for sharing your mother's story. This is generally such a tragic and private subject, and I appreciate you sharing the intimacy of those struggles with us. <3
You. YOU. YOUUUUUUU. ARE MAKING ME CRY ON THIS SUNDAY NIGHT.
STOP SAYING NICE THINGS! I DON'T KNOW HOW TO HANDLE COMPLIMENTS EXCEPT TO CRY ABOUT THEM BECAUSE I FEEL UNWORTHY!
Everything you have said you like about my writing is everything I love about writing, so like...as a writer, I feel so validated knowing that the things I spend so much time on and put so much of my heart in are shining through. I'm glad you appreciate the attention to detail, and the dialogue, and the beats. Writing is an art form, and it's something I've worked on for many, many years now but I am still so insecure about sometimes that it's wonderful when someone lets you know that the work you do is appreciated. I really, really feel honored and grateful to have you reading.
I'm glad that the story reads easily. At the time I originally wrote it, I was super nervous about posting it in such short snippets because I knew that people liked long chapters. But I'd been reading another story on the site at the time that was told in short bites as well, and it was written in such a way that word count wasn't even a thing to worry about. Every small bit carried such a great punch - there was SO much said in so few words and that inspired me. I wanted to be able to say so much with so little, too. I wanted to know if I could do that. If I could write something so impactful.
Yesterday was a really hard day because of some family stuff. I cannot begin to tell you how much needed the smile you've put on my face is. Your reviews are like rays of sunshine.
And THAT! THAT LITTLE PERSONAL BIT YOU SHARED! That was the most special thing about originally posting this story and it's happening AGAIN! People shared their personal stories with me throughout in their reviews, and it made me feel so close to them and so happy to be connected to all these people in some small way. And here you are, continuing that trend. It's interesting how things like that happen, isn't it? How there really are moments like Kevin speaks about, like your mother lived in. Where we lose one person but gain another.
Miscarriage IS such a private and tragic thing and I didn't want to be especially descriptive about Laura's experience because that wasn't the goal. But I did want to be sensitive. I wanted to do her grief justice. And I wanted to do my mother's story justice, so that even if she never read this, someone knew what she went through. Because without it, I wouldn't even be here.
Thank you again, so, so very much for all of your kind words and comments. I am so deeply grateful and I can't wait to share the rest of this story with you.
Date: 06/07/2020 02:38 AM Title: I. It begins with the North Star.
Oh nooooo. I can already feel that my heart is gonna be absolutely destroyed by the end of this. But my goodness, your prose is so dang pretty!
This line in particular: She'd just rise and fall like the tide along with every heave and descent of my chest. -- WOW. That's all I can really articulate about this.
And then this one: Some things don't change. Even when everything else does. -- You know how some books/stories are defined by a handful of their iconic quotes? I kind of already feel like this might be one of them for this story.
I remember seeing the banner for this when you'd posted it on the original JBFA, but I'd never gotten around to actually reading. I'm already kicking myself. Also, there were/are very few Kevin stories, so I'm so excited to have a chance to finally fall in love with him in a fic.
Thank you for sharing a piece of "you" with us! :)
What a surprise when I came back to find your reviews. I wanted to repost this story because it's one of my favorite things I wrote while I was here, and the response to its original run is one of the main reasons why I continue to write today. I'm so glad that all these years later - almost a decade, I think - it still can resonate with new readers.
I'm glad you are able to check Remembrance out this time around. You're absolutely right - Kevin has often gotten the short end of the stick in fic, and despite him being my original favorite, I didn't write a whole lot of him here. With Kevin, I was more particular about the stories I wrote for him, I guess, and when this one came to me it just...felt right.
I am humbled by your words about my prose, and giddy that you seem to be enjoying this so much despite how ominous that second quote you pulled out may be. This story can certainly be defined by that line. Kevin's journey isn't an easy one, but ultimately his story is one about how life can throw us many, many unexpected curveballs and we still have to keep going. Even when it hurts. Even when we don't want to. Even when the anguish and anger we feel is so great that it stops us in our tracks. Eventually, we have to pick ourselves up and keep on going. And we have to learn from what we go through along the way.
Anyway. I'm rambling. I'm happy as hell to be here, sharing this story again for old readers who might happen upon it, and for new ones like you. Thank you for taking the time to review. I really, really appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me.