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All the Numbers: A Novelby Judy Larsen
Synopses & Reviews
Good God, Ellen Banks said when she entered the drab, scuffed room that housed the west side Madison branch of the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles. Could they make this place any more unappealing?
“What do you suppose they call this color? Sludge?”
Ellen turned to smile at the woman holding the door open for her and answered, It definitely isn't in the Martha Stewart Collection.
The woman laughed in agreement and exited the building.
Ellen groaned as she wended her way to the line for renewing licenses. At first, she was too busy calculating how long it had been since these walls had last been repainted-she noted the decade-old cigarette smoke stains near the ceiling-to notice the length of the line she was standing in. Then she realized that only one person had left her line so she had barely moved in five minutes.
I thought getting here early would prevent this kind of holdup, she muttered.
“No such luck.”
Ellen was startled to have her complaint answered by the young man in front of her. She smiled back at him and took a sip of coffee from her Badger football travel mug. She looked at the clock on the wall, then at her wristwatch, convinced the time could not be right. Had she really been in line only eight minutes? Both timepieces must be lying. She started to tap her toes impatiently, then took another swig of coffee. Thank God for thermos mugs, she thought.
Excuse me, ma'am, a deep voice barked at her from behind.
“Yes?” Ellen turned eagerly, hoping she was being summoned to a newly opened line.
A stern, uniformed woman with her hair pulled back tightly in a bun glared at her. Didn't you see the sign?
What sign?” Crap, Ellen thought, if I've been wasting time in the wrong line I’ll scream.
“The sign that says ‘No food or drink allowed.'
Oh, please, Ellen thought, you’ve got to be kidding. I’m almost done with my coffee,” she said to the woman, who seemed to see herself in the role of warden. Don't worry.
“There are no drinks allowed. No exceptions. You’ll have to give it to me to throw away or take it back to your car and then come back in.
Look,” Ellen pleaded, “I don't want to lose my place in line. My coffee's nearly gone, okay? I’m just here for my annual license renewal.
You should have paid attention to the sign before you took your place in line. The warden didn't move. Ellen tried to summon up some friendly feelings. I guess if I had to work in this environment every day I’d be a little grumpy, too, she thought.
People around them had started to chuckle and stare. Ellen wasn't sure the best way to respond to the last statement, but she was pretty sure ignoring it wasn’t going to work.
You're so right. I should’ve noticed the sign. I’m sorry. Ellen tried to sound sheepish, but her words came out too heavily laced with sarcasm to buy her any leniency.
I don't believe you’re sorry at all. Return the mug to your car now.
The young man in front of her assured her
The recently divorced mother of two boys, Ellen Banks struggles to cope with unspeakable tragedy when a reckless teenager on a jet ski hits and kills her youngest son, navigating the dark depths of grief while seeking justice for her son and trying to mend her family's wounds. A first novel. Reader's Guide included. Original. 30,000 first printing.
“How much do you love me?” Daniel asked his mother.
“I love you all the numbers.”
What begins as a sunny August afternoon on a bucolic lake turns into a tragedy when a Jet Ski swerves fatally close to shore. It’s a day Ellen Banks could never have prepared for, a day no mother should ever have to live through.
The moment her son James is killed, Ellen must face the unimaginable while trying to remain strong for her older son, Daniel, who witnessed the fateful accident and blames himself. Ellen’s shock and grief soon give way to defiance as lawyers and policemen who once vowed to support Ellen’s desire for justice succumb to political pressure and back away. Still, Ellen is determined to see the reckless young man pay for his crime and to heal her family’s deep wounds. But first she must heal herself.
An unforgettable journey of power and emotion, All the Numbers poignantly depicts a woman’s reckoning with her own vulnerability and finding in the wisdom of motherhood the redemptive grace to begin again.
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