Samantha’s mother and father have divorced and she’s left standing in the middle of the separation. Along with her brother, Luke, Samantha traverses pain, guilt and loneliness as she takes on a new father and a new step-brother. Her only solace comes from her best friend, June, and the neighborhood kids who flock around her. One day Samantha is shown The Book of Mormon. She knows nothing about Mormon’s but soon realizes she must make a choice. Get the
help of God from this new-found book, or go it alone without them both.
Samantha is a young girl who finds her world turned upside down in one brief moment. Her secure world is shaken with the abrupt departure of her father. Left behind with no explanations, she takes solace in her two best friends, Bruce and June. She is soon faced with a myriad of changes, including a new stepfather and a stepbrother she didn't want. Over the next two years, as she rapidly approaches adolescence, lonely young Sam discovers a world that holds pain and bitterness, as well as love, and is introduced to a mysterious book that could change her life.
A River of Stones chronicles the pain of divorce and growing up in the life of a young, adolescent girl. Penned with the heart of experience, the author touches the deepest recesses of a young girl's hopes, dreams, and fears as she searches for answers no one has been willing to give her. From the pain of losing a parent to divorce, to the joy of hopeful possibility, Kathryn Jones takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery and promise.
I was eight when it happened. The year was 1968 and it was morning. My mother sat my brother, Luke, and me down on the worn green couch and stared at us.
Luke nudged me. I nudged back. He nudged me again before Mother forced us to quit by sitting between us.
My mother looked at us, teary eyed, like we’d done something wrong. “Your father left last night.”
“Where did he go?” I asked, unaware that he was gone for good—that he would never tuck me in bed again, or eat dinner with us, or just sit next to me on the living room couch as we watched TV.
“He is living somewhere else.”
Luke broke into tears. “I want Daddy!”
How could he leave? Didn’t he love us anymore?
My mother had huge globs of tears in her deep brown eyes. Her thick hair was wadded in a messy bun, and her small hands shook against the orange and red flowered robe she always wore around the house when she wasn’t going anywhere.
“It’s just us now,” she said.
What did she mean, “just us”? Daddy hadn’t died. He would still come over, wouldn’t he? We would visit him, wouldn’t we?
All I could do was sit there on the old green couch as Mother told us about the divorce, my mind going crazy with confusion. Why would Daddy leave us? Could someone just decide one day not to love you anymore?
Mother’s divorce was final a year later. I missed Daddy, but I tried to keep myself busy with other things so I wouldn’t have to think about him. I had two close friends, one who lived a few blocks away and one down about six houses—a cute boy. No, no one knew about my secret love, not even my best girlfriend, June; she always told people what I said. And because I didn’t want my words to come back every which way but right, I didn’t share the feelings I had for Bruce.
Bruce didn’t seem to like girls. He was my age, but I had heard somewhere that boys didn’t grow or mature until long after girls did. I didn’t know then that maturity meant more than growing taller, or your body filling out; it meant the stuff inside, too—and I’m not just talking about the guts.
Mother and Daddy had never taken me to church, but Mother had taught me about God. She believed that God didn’t belong in church with all the fake people, but that he visited those who were humble before him.
And so, every night I wished that when I woke up my body would be taller and more mature. It was the only way I could see to help Mother. Her eyes were lonely and often I would see her looking somewhere far away. I knew I could take away some of her sadness if only I were old enough to work.
I knew that Daddy’s work had provided food for us, and a roof over our heads and even clothes on our backs, but until he was gone, I had no idea how much I’d taken those basic needs for granted.
In the morning, I would cry just a little and go into the kitchen for breakfast. Sometimes we’d get Cheerios without milk, or bread with a little butter, but I tried not to complain. Mother was having a hard enough time.
Six months following the divorce, Mother introduced Luke and me to her “new friend.” His name was Carl. Mother started to smile again, and we got more food in the house. But I was confused. I missed my real daddy and I didn’t think replacing him was going to work even if it made Mother happy.
Two months later, Mother and Carl married. It was a small wedding. Mother wore a pink dress with a thick, shiny hair ribbon around her waist. She looked beautiful, but I couldn’t help feeling alone.
Carl lived with us after that, and my feelings of security returned—almost like before. Carl tried to be my daddy. He’d help me with homework and we would play games of checkers until Luke got jealous, but usually my thoughts would return to my real daddy and how much I loved and missed him.
Almost a year after Mom introduced us to Carl he adopted us. I will never forget the day we went before the judge, who sat behind his huge, wood desk, much bigger and grander than any they allowed you to sit at during school. His face was as old as a gnarled tree, and his voice sounded like God’s.
He asked, “Do you children understand what you are doing?”
My brother and I nodded yes. Luke was eight and I was almost ten. I wondered if Luke really knew what he was doing, but more importantly, I wondered if I knew what I was doing and if my mother knew what she was doing.
My mother no longer had to listen to anything my daddy said. The divorce papers had been finalized, and she had a new husband. Mother had a new man who wanted to be our daddy. He looked different than our first daddy, and talked differently and everything. He had dark hair where Daddy’s was light brown. And brown eyes where Daddy’s were blue. Carl was shorter and looked like he lifted weights. Daddy’s body looked much like mine—with legs like beanpoles in shorts.
Of course, Daddy wasn’t wearing shorts that day, but a nice suit. And he looked nice, too. I didn’t have to look at his skinny legs.
He sat across from my brother and me, from Mother and her new husband. Sometimes his blue eyes would search my own, but I couldn’t tell what he was saying. Did he like that he was giving my brother and me away? Did it bother him that Carl was adopting us?
Don’t ask me why, but I wanted it to happen. It had been so strange not having a daddy in the house. And Carl was nice. Mother smiled almost all of the time now. And I wanted Mother to smile most of all.
In the end, I wasn’t sure why Mother looked so sad, but the judge shook our hands and I gave my old daddy a hug. I don’t remember if he cried, because suddenly Carl’s hand was reaching out. I took it. We walked arm in arm to the station wagon and got in. That was the last time I saw or heard from my daddy for a long time.
* * *
I think it was the letter that did it, the awful letter that was written after Daddy and Mother divorced. You know how sometimes you forget things, and then at the most terrible times you remember them?
“Why doesn’t Daddy come to get us anymore?” I remember asking Mother.
I was crying those great big sobs that make your bones rattle and your teeth chatter, and Mommy was trying to comfort me.
“You wrote the letter, remember? A few months after the divorce?”
Yes, the letter. What had I said? Had I been so cruel that he wouldn’t even call me on the telephone?
I tried to pull the words I’d written from my brain, but I couldn’t remember any of it. My mother helped me out. She reminded me that I had told my father that I had a new daddy and that it was just too confusing to have two. She said that he must love me very much to respect my decision.
I wish I hadn’t written those awful words. He hated me for sure now. I just knew he would never talk to me again.
I went to my bedroom and opened my dresser drawer where I kept the red bikini top with the ruffles. Pulling off my yellow shirt with the daisy embroidered on it, I pulled it on.
My mother hated that top. She hated it because Daddy had bought it, and because it showed my belly, but mostly because Daddy had bought it.
I went outside, found my pink Sting-Ray bike, climbed onto it, and rode away. My wheels made a clip-clop sound as they pummeled the Crazy Eight card I had clipped to the thin wire spokes.
I didn’t stop at Bruce’s, either. I rode past the house with the wicked Doberman dog and turned the corner heading toward the school. I didn’t care that Mother had warned me not to go to the school late at night. It was eight o’clock and time for bed, but I just didn’t care.
I went to the schoolyard and sat there in a daze, my bike leaning against the fence. Then I was in a swing, soaring as high as I could. The wind was still hot but it cooled my face like a huge fan in the giant sky. I breathed in the scent of pine and rose and closed my eyes, trying to shut out the noise of children and their parents.
But it was no use. In only seconds, the swing began to jerk, to hop in the air like a great firecracker. Still, I didn’t stop my flight. If my neck jerked free, my head would go sailing through the air and I’d never have to go home again.