Entry Nickname: Zip
Title: Splinters and Clay
Word Count: 71,000
Genre: Adult Book Club Fiction
If there is one thing Zip thinks she can depend on in Sweetgum, Alabama, it is that change comes slowly if it comes at all. But when her older sister, Kam, runs away to find the father she’s never known, change comes flooding in. Zip is left alone with her larger-than-life mother and her stubborn, hypochondriac grandfather to navigate the void left by Kam’s absence. As the heat of summer unfurls, Zip meets a boy by the river who is not all he seems; finds a potential husband for her mother; and is torn between desire for her mother’s approval and resentment of her mother’s choices.
From throwing her daughter a surprise menstruation celebration to burning down her best friend’s swamp house, Zip’s mother has all the crazy that a good Southern mother should have . . . and then some. Zip’s narrative is interwoven with chapters from her mother’s past, which reveal Kam’s father and the secret backstory of Kam’s conception. Splinters and Clay addresses the mercurial relationships between mother, daughter, and sister, and it gets at the heart of what constitutes a person’s roots.
First 250 Words:
“I pick here.”
I looked at my mother who was lying face down in the field of wildflowers, her thick dark hair splayed like a shade over the brightness of the blooms.
“Here. Right here. This is where I want to be buried,” she said.
“Mom.” I stood near her head and looked down at her. “You can’t just pick any random spot to be buried. It has to be authorized or something. And anyways – get up. You’re not going to be buried for a while.”
“You never know.” She rolled over, spreading her arms wide, palms up. “You’d better be prepared. And you’d better take notes. Because this is it. This is the spot.”
She squinted up at the sun. “You don’t think it will get too hot here in the summer, do you? You might have to plant a tree over me. You know – just for a little shade every now and then. Oh,” she bit her bottom lip. “But what kind?”
She closed her eyes again to think.
“Mom.” I shook my head and picked dandelions with my toes, pulling them from their bases and tossing them onto her one by one – sprinkling flowers, dirt, and grass across her stomach. “Mom – we don’t even know whose land this is. I seriously doubt they’ll plant a tree smack in the middle of their field with your dead body beneath it. Come on. I’m gonna be late for the doctor’s.”
“Huh.” My mother looked up at me, her sky-blue eyes narrowed against the sun, then closed them again.