The Year My Mother Let Me Read Romances by Sarah Black – Guest Blog

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Sarah Black who is celebrating today’s release of American Road Trip. You can read our review of it here.

The Year My Mother Let Me Read Romances

In 1972, my dad was transferred down to Key West to go to Submarine School. We moved halfway through the school year, and I was sent off to St Mary’s for the rest of sixth grade. I was happy to be out of Pascagoula, Mississippi. I didn’t fit in. I thought Key West was right up my alley. I tried to read some Ernest Hemingway to get ready but nothing he wrote made any sense. Mother was reading Tennessee Williams.

It turned out the nuns at St Mary’s were not as free spirited in regards to uniform regulations as I was hoping. They did not appreciate my rainbow knee socks, the ones I wore to honor Janis Joplin. In fact, they pulled me out of class and made me sit on a bench outside the office until my mother could pick me up.

On the plus side, we could wear our Girl Scout uniforms on Wednesdays. My next opportunity I rolled up the hem and taped it to a reasonable 1972 level with Scotch tape. Then I climbed a tree on the playground and waited for an interesting boy to show up. One did, and he had red hair and a cigarette lifted from his dad. The nuns were not amused at this, either, and called Mother to come get me again.

Mother might have been on their side regarding the taped hem, but the nuns had made a couple of mistakes. First, she overheard the office staff referring to us as “transients” when we were enrolling. That did not sit well. Then the nuns gave me a group of placement tests, and I scored off their charts. So they asked me if I had been cheating, and did I need to go to confession? No, I did not, and I told them I did not need to cheat because I was smart and their tests were easy. They called my mother and reported both the tree and Girl Scout uniform incident, and told her I had been caught cheating. And she said she didn’t believe it. I didn’t need to cheat, because I was smart, and a reader.

Then they made their second mistake. A nun laughed at the idea that I was smart, and a reader. So my mother brought my library list to the office. I was back on the bench outside, my usual spot. My mother must have been working on her speech as she drove to the school, because she lit in the moment she hit the office door. She didn’t speak to me; just pointed a finger that I took to mean ‘don’t move.’ She described the history of my reading life, the libraries in which I owned a card, my current books from the local library, and the books the family owned, at great expense, including a set of Great Books that had been saved when a hurricane blew our house down because they had been wrapped in plastic and put up high because the Great Books, and all books, were more valuable to us that anything else.

It was a great speech, and unfortunately the nuns were then able to hit back regarding the tree and the red headed boy and the cigarette. Mother was game, though. She said she would deal with it, because she was the parent, and they were never again to misunderstand that they had a reading prodigy in their midst.

In the car on the way home, her fingers were white on the steering wheel, and she avoided looking at the taped hem on my Girl Scout uniform. She asked me if I was starting to be interested in boys. I said yes. She asked if I had any questions. At this point, I was worried she was going to snap the steering wheel in two. I wondered when I could start dating, and she said she would let me know. She said in the meantime, she thought it would be okay if I started reading some romances. There were several Victoria Holt books she had read, and I might like to read The Mistress of Mellyn or The Bride of Pendorric.

American Road Trip, out March 16 from Dreamspinner. A free epilogue, Tino Takes the Cake, will be available free on the Dreamspinner blog on release day!

A single moment—or a single mistake—can change everything.

When Captain James Lee Hooker and his lover, Sergeant Easy Jacobs, were in the Army, they made a mistake that got a young soldier hurt. Three years later, they’re civilians again, living far apart, haunted by what they lost. Now that young soldier needs their help.

With his grandmother’s one-eyed Chihuahua riding shotgun, James Lee climbs into Easy’s pickup for a trip across the American Southwest. They set out to rescue a friend, but their journey transforms them with the power of forgiveness.

About the Author: Sarah Black is a writer, a reader, an artist, a veteran, and a mom. She has been a Lambda finanlist and nominated for a Pushcart.

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Buy the book at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.

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