A Week with Fiona Wonder by Kelly Huddleston
It is exactly one week until sixteen-year-old Mercy Swimmer is to play out a dream scenario: to spend an entire week with movie star Fiona Wonder, the prize awarded to the winner of a contest staged by a teen magazine.
Mercy is kind and compassionate and always tries to see the best in everybody, even when those around her do not respond similarly. For example, her mother’s snippy, hot-tempered friend Nikki is a kleptomaniac who constantly belittles her boyfriend. Her best friend Valerie has anger issues and a weight problem. Beautiful but cold Lady Redding, Valerie’s mother, feels entitled to everything even as others go without. And Mercy’s mother, a severe asthmatic who works two menial jobs in a “dead mall”, seems to care more about Fiona Wonder and Mercy’s upcoming week with her than the pressing issues in their own lives.
Everything is on track for Mercy’s upcoming week with Fiona Wonder, but when her mother’s asthma flairs up, Mercy’s world turns upside down and she is faced with a decision that will ultimately challenge her own capacity for compassion.
A Week with Fiona Wonder shines an intense light upon the dire consequences of social exclusivity and suggests the alternatives of inclusion, empathy and, indeed, mercy.
About the author
Kelly Huddleston is the author of the novels A Week with Fiona Wonder, Alone in the Company of Others and The Perfect Pearl. Her work has been called original, accomplished and well-crafted.
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Alone in the Company of Others
by Kelly Huddleston
Camille's mother Connie collects people. After Connie's brother Wilson has 'the accident' (a single shot to the abdomen; the blood in the snow beside the flagpole; the siren and the ambulance), they move into an abandoned ski resort in Colorado with Wilson's widow Wanda, an agoraphobic veterinarian, and her two sons, Russell, who only wants to be normal, and Wilsie, who is anything but normal. Determined never to use his voice, Wilsie communicates on a blackboard and records other people's conversations on a Fisher Price tape recorder.
Camille's mother Connie makes sure there are many voices to record: Teresa, an ex opera singer; Helen, Stacey, and Winnie, three Certified Veterinary Technicians; Margie, a lonely, suicidal librarian; Finn Green, a PR man; and a group of disillusioned hitchhikers no one will pick up.
Wilsie records the progress of their lives, a world of sex, death, and white noise, but when Wilsie is finally forced to use his voice Camille is left with over four hundred cassette tapes documenting the rise and fall of a micro society with one unmistakable message: we are all alone, even in the company of others.
With a cast of eccentrics that rivals “The Royal Tenenbaums”, ALONE IN THE COMPANY OF OTHERS is about people and their treasured possessions—a running tape recorder, a collection of diplomas, an attic full of disfigured mannequins, or shelves and shelves of books in an all but abandoned public library—and the distinctive role that each of us plays as part of a group dynamic. The book questions where each of us essentially exists—within the singular, the plural, or both.