Synopses & Reviews
Twenty-five-year-old Anna--blond, famished and emotionally numb--is following the long-cold trail of her father, a celebrated luthier, whose death has always haunted her. She has tracked his former business partner to a houseboat on Bellingham Bay, determined to prize from the old man the secrets of their guitar-making trade, and maybe a few answers about her father. Anna catches an echo of her musical father in Arlen, guitar player for a local band. Soon she's living on his sofa and hanging but with his girlfriend. And if Anna's new friends do drugs, read her journal and leave open a few too many bedroom doors, who's to say they aren't real friends? And if Anna has feelings for Arlen, who's to say where her loyalty lies? During a single summer's worth of days, gin-soaked and colored with longing, Anna rediscovers her senses, shut down since her father's death, and finds that the only way to get free of her past is to embrace it.
"Gehrman's debut skillfully draws the reader into the mind of 25-year-old, emotionally stunted Anna Medina and the universe of damaged folks she encounters in her attempts to 'kill [her] father' ('He's dead, but he needs to die a little more') and heal the pain left by his suicide. Chet Medina was a luthier who sold his guitars to Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia; Anna, whose version of living has been observing neighbors through binoculars, decides to go to Bellingham, Wash., to find her father's old guitar-making partner and see if he can help i.e., take her on as an apprentice and tell her about her celebrated, distant father. She is taken in by self-destructive, beautiful Lucy and her quiet, distant boyfriend, Arlan, near the 'Land of Skin,' a street corner where the faintest hint of sunlight brings out 'half-naked natives.' Her new friends fight, drink and smoke themselves into a chaotic spiral, and as Anna witnesses their pain and joy she begins to feel alive herself. Gehrman's portrait of a woman deadened from years of grief awakening to a world of emotional risk skillfully avoids maudlin sentiment or hollow histrionics. Her characters are confused, believable and utterly human, which is one of the main reasons the book strikes so many lonely, bewildered and true notes. Agent, Dorian Karchmar. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Gritty, uninhibited, and compelling, this winning first novel is a brilliantly written coming-of-age story about a 25-year-old who travels from California to Washington State to discover the truth about her father's suicide and to make peace with the past. Original.
About the Author
Jody Gehrman teaches writing at Mendocino College in northern California. She has a weakness for fine guitars and the people who play them. Summer in the Land of Skin is her debut novel.