The Odds of You and Me
by Cecilia Galante
• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
In the vein of Meg Donohue and Sarah Jio, Cecilia Galante’s second novel delivers the powerful story of one young woman who’s faced with an impossible choice—one that could have her making the biggest mistake of her life.
Thirteen days. That’s all Bernadette, “Bird,” Sincavage has left to go until she’s done with her probation and can be free again. Free from making payments to the supermarket she wrote bad checks to. Free from living at home with her overzealous mother who’s constantly nagging her about attending church again. Free to give her four-year-old son, Angus, the normal life he deserves. Her impending freedom and move to Moon Lake, where she’s plunked down a deposit on a brand new apartment, is so close she can almost taste it. What trouble could she possibly get into in just thirteen days?
But trouble does follow in the form of James Rittenhouse—someone she worked with a few years ago. At first, Bird is stunned to see James make the evening news when he’s arrested for assaulting someone in a local bar. But that’s nothing compared to the shock she gets when she discovers James hiding out in an abandoned church choir loft. Somehow he escaped police custody, broke his leg, and got his hand on a gun, which he’s now pointing at her.
Although Bird doesn’t tell anyone she saw James, there’s no way she’s helping him. She can’t screw up her probation or her second chance for a new future. And she has her son’s welfare to think about. Still. If only she could stop thinking about the terrified look in James’ eyes and the fact that he’s hurt. If only she could forget that once, long ago, James helped her out, and she owes him a debt like no other.
Will Bird jeopardize her future for someone who helped her out in the past? A past that holds secrets she’s not quite sure she’s ready to face? Or will she turn a blind eye and learn to live with the consequences?
He was two and a half years old by then and just starting to make the transition to big-boy underpants. I was twenty-two and just starting to figure out that maybe I hadn’t ever learned how to make the transition to big-girl underpants.
He had small teeth, and too many of them, the ones in front crowded and overlapped like kids pushing in line.
When I was little, I used to stare at the cross during Mass and wait for Jesus to come down off it. I pictured Him shaking his arms – which would be stiff from being out straight for so long – maybe massaging the wounds in His hands, and doing a few deep knee bends.
When I was younger, I used to imagine my soul as a little white butterfly that lived beneath my rib cage. It slept when I slept, flittered around when I was awake, and smelled like me in the summertime – a combination of warm grass, peonies, and Dial soap. When the time came for me to die, I pictured it drifting out of my mouth and floating around the world, trailing my scent behind it. That scent would be my mark. My stamp on the world.
We laughed at the same time and I realized as he opened his mouth and tipped his head back that it was the first time I had heard him do such a thing. Laugh I mean. It was a beautiful sound, flush with feeling, and I carried it around with me for the rest of the day like a tiny stone in my pocket.
The Odds of You and Me read and felt like a memoir, although it was far too honest and well-written to be one. I was fascinated and captivated by the oddly appealing and complicated characters, as well as the depth and observational details that were employed in their descriptions, struggles, and interactions. The writing was of superior caliber and Ms. Galante’s words pulled at me as if they were magnetic; my attention and my heart were commanded, sustained, and thoroughly squeezed throughout. I ached for poor James, an intelligent and thoughtful man with a gentle and wounded soul; he never seemed to catch a break in the totality of his miserable life. I felt I knew and understood Bird a bit too well and even had a thought that we could be related as I am sure our mothers were twins. The storyline was ingeniously well-crafted, intriguing, engaging, and emotive. My emotions were thoroughly mined by an evocative narrative that took me from wry and clever humor to devastating despair. But the gem of this story was to be found in the characters who were as enthralling as the plot, they were multi-layered and at once repellent yet intriguing, nasty at times and surprisingly generous and empathetic in subsequent chapters, and most were observant with sparks of unexpected insight and concern, as well as being so fully inhabited I felt I could identify each one in a line-up. Cranky old Mr. Herron was the one to break me; the old codger had me sobbing. I received a review copy of this book from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.
About the Author
Cecilia writes for adults, teenagers, middle-school kids, and very young readers. The Invisibles, her first novel for adults, which was recently published by Harper Collins, has been called “gripping and heart-rending” by USA Today best-selling author Meg Donohue. A second adult novel is forthcoming in Winter, 2017.Cecilia’s first young adult novel, The Patron Saint of Butterflies, which was loosely based on her own experience growing up in a commune, received national recognition, and was the recipient of numerous awards, including the NAIBA Best Book of the Year Award, a Book Sense Pick, an Oprah’s Book Club Teen Reading Selection, a Golden Sower Award Nominee, a Banks Children Book of the Year Selection, and a Grand Canyon Reader Award Nominee.
Other young adult novels include The Sweetness of Salt and Be Not Afraid.
Middle-grade novels include Willowood, Hershey Herself, and The Summer of May as well as the forthcoming The World From Up Here, to be released in the summer of 2016.
Children’s books include a 5-book chapter book series titled Little Wings, which has recently been translated into Turkish and Japanese.
Cecilia, who also teaches eighth-grade English at Wyoming Seminary Preparatory School and is on the creative writing faculty at Wilkes University, lives in Kingston, Pennsylvania.