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The Big Shuffle: A Novelby Laura Pedersen
Synopses & Reviews
It's a cold and windless January night following a two-day winter storm. All across the campus of the Cleveland Art Institute a blanket of snow sparkles as if encrusted with tiny diamonds. Thick clouds blot out the moonlight and for a moment it feels that all of nature is hushed.
Suzy, Robin, and I walk the half mile to the Theta Chi frat house, a box-shaped building with dark brown vinyl siding that looks like it could be the back part of a church where the priests reside, were it not for the large wooden Greek letters hanging between the second and third floors. Theta Chi is hosting a Welcome Back keg party and all comers are indeed welcome, so long as they can produce an ID, real or otherwise, along with twenty bucks to be paid in cash at the door.
I have to go because my roommate Suzy has a huge crush on the president, and she convinces Robin and me to be her accomplices in the manhunt. But being that it's a new semester, and a brand-new year, I’m certainly open for adventure. When you're eighteen, the possibilities seem endless. At the same time, I’m feeling a bit lonely, since Craig, the guy I really like, attends college in Minnesota. We’re eleven hundred miles apart, and he and I both agreed that it's best not to be exclusive with each other, at least for now.
Once inside the front door we pay our cover charge and a guy wearing a multicolored felt jester hat uses a stamp to emblazon the backs of our hands with big purple beavers. In the strobe-lit entrance hall Billy Joel blares from speakers that seem to be everywhere. The jacked-up bass causes the wooden floorboards to thump so it feels as if there's a heartbeat in each foot. The couches are pushed back against the walls and from the ceiling of the large living room hang dozens of strings of chili pepper lights that cast a crazy quilt of patterns onto the guests. Young people stand around holding big red plastic cups, occasionally leaning in close to yell something at one other. They nod or laugh and over near the fireplace a few dance.
A guy wearing a T-shirt that says, freshmen girls-get 'em while they’re skinny, rolls a fresh keg past us and catches my eye. He's heading toward a place underneath a mangy bison head where participants in a Chug for Charity contest appear to be making excellent progress.
Oh my gosh-it’s Josh He's a junior in the art department whom I had a crush on the entire first semester of my freshman year, while he didn’t even know I was alive.
After dropping off the keg he comes over and hands me a beer. Do I know you?
“Hallie Palmer,” I reply, trying not to feel devastated that he doesn't remember my name.
We begin a shouted exchange and I remind him of the shared computer graphics class.
Oh yeah, he says and nods.
Though whether he means that he remembers the class or me is impossible to tell. Our talk segues to general stuff like movies and families. Only the problem is that now, after so much fantasizing about our nonexistent relationship, and several beers, I'm experiencing difficulty separating the real conversation from all the imaginary ones I had with him last fall. For instance, Josh looks surprised when I talk about having nine brothers and sisters, whereas I'm thinking we cove
With her mother bereft over the death of her father, headstrong cardsharp Hallie Palmer returns home from college to take charge of the household and its ten children, finding solace in the company of her old friends, Bernard and Gil, until Bernard's outrageous mother Olivia returns from Europe with a much younger surprise. By the author of Beginner's Luck. Original. 25,000 first printing.
“We’re approaching Cat in the Hat level chaos and no one’s even had breakfast yet.”
When the death of her father leaves her mother bereft and incapacitated, card shark Hallie Palmer returns home from college to raise Hallie’s eight younger siblings. Hallie’s older brother has a scholarship and a sensible major–which translates to free tuition and desperately needed future income for the family. So it’s up to Hallie to deal herself in as head of the chaotic household.
But even after the invasion of those well-meaning, casserole-carrying purveyors of comfort the local church ladies, Hallie’s in a downward spiral. Thank goodness for old friends like Bernard and Gil, now proud parents, who keep Hallie afloat with good humor, brilliant organizational skills, and Judy Garland’s most quotable quotes–not that life is entirely peaceful now that Bernard’s wise, willful, and delightfully outrageous mother, Olivia, is back from Europe with a big (and shockingly young) surprise.
Through it all, Hallie discovers that life can indeed turn on a dime, and that every coin has two sides plus an edge. Just because beginner’s luck doesn’t always last forever doesn’t mean you’re out of the game.
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