By Linda Fagioli-Katsiotas
If Kareem had not found the photo of Sarah, there never would have been that explosion at the gas station and Alexandros wouldn’t have fled, but life is full of “if-onlys,” especially for seventeen-year-old Sarah Petit.
It is 1974 and Sarah finds herself alone in East End. She’s become involved with Andreas, a troubled young man with a drug problem; and with Kareem, a lovesick newspaper boy; and with Alexandros, a new immigrant who barely speaks English but clearly knows what he wants.
All four have grown up in drastically different worlds, but they’ve somehow been thrown together, and with one misguided decision after another, they set in motion a series of unstoppable events that lead to violence and heartbreak. Maybe life would be easier if people would just stick with their own kind. But what does that really mean?
This is a story of yearning and desire, of the basic need to connect with others and the expectations of culture and tradition that sometimes keep us from real love, a love that is truly with someone of our “own kind.”
First Chapter of Your Own Kind
Everyone was asleep when the Turk’s son came looking for Sarah that morning. With a thick willow branch tucked under his arm, he walked on the edge of the dirt road with long angry strides. The sun had just become a thin red line in the east and the bitter smell of wet reeds was coming off the marsh near the lake as he rounded the corner and made his way to the front of the Middleground Boarding House. Mrs. Middleground was the first to hear the commotion, awakened by the thuds of the branch hitting the windshield of the red car. As the shards of glass fell against the metal hood, she raced to the window, her sluggishness momentarily forgotten. She’d fallen asleep in the chair the night before. The magazine she’d been reading had slid to the floor and lay with its spine open—the cover showing its beaten state—torn and creased, last year’s edition of The World in Pictures:1974. Ordinarily she wouldn’t have thought much about seeing the Turk’s son outside her window, especially in the morning. That was the boy’s usual routine after his newspaper deliveries. He always appeared on foot at the front of the boarding house, meeting with Sarah to do whatever it was they did together. And then they’d drive off in that blue Impala of hers. Well, in Mrs. Middleground’s opinion—and she had many of them—he was much too young for Sarah. Three or four years can be an enormous difference in age, especially at that time of life. She peered through the lace curtains and shook her head. That boy couldn’t have been more than thirteen or fourteen.
Mrs. Middleground was a woman with many philosophical principles for life, though they changed more often than her boarders. The fishermen were her steady renters but the young people who were there to work during the summer season would come and go like a stubborn rash. They all seemed to follow the same foolish path—living an entire lifetime in that short three month period before leaving East End with nothing to show for it. Or at least that’s how Mrs. Middleground saw it, and she figured the reason the Turk’s son was hanging around that year, was because he’d just gotten old enough to know there were girls at her boarding house. But now as she held open the curtain in her trailer window, watching him swing the branch at the red car with such venom, she was caught between intrigue and genuine fear.
Sarah was lying in bed, suspended between a dream and reality when the noise started. She heard the shuffle of feet in the hallway and opened her eyes to see Alexandros fighting to get his arms into a tee shirt. In an instant she was behind him, following him out to the yard. She pushed her hair away from her face but it fell back into her eyes as she came up next to him and saw his damaged red car.
“Kareem, What are you doing?” she cried.
Sarah was the only boarder who knew the Turk’s son by name. To the others, Kareem had always been no more than a moving piece of the background, an early morning paperboy who threw rolled up newspapers onto lawns while balancing on his bicycle seat. It wasn’t until he’d started coming around the boarding house that they’d heard Mrs. Middleground refer to him as The Turk’s Son. And there he was, on that unusually warm spring morning, having fully emerged from the scenery with all the fire and rage of a real live person.
Kareem’s insults hit Sarah like a blow to the head and it took her a second to realize that the crumpled paper he was thrusting into Alexandros’ hand was actually a photo, her heart pounding into her ribs as Alexandros looked at it and then at her—his expression impossible to read. By then, the sun was already sitting on top of the boarding house, its heat pushing through the elm branches and burning holes into her back. She wanted to grab the photo from Alexandros and explain, but there were no words and then Kareem was gone, disappearing into the brush around the lake and a police car was pulling up onto the dirt.
It was all a mistake—a terrible misunderstanding, but how could she stop the movement of a boulder falling from a cliff? She knew—though she tried to convince herself otherwise—if she hadn’t stayed in East End, none of this would be happening. Those were the thoughts that pushed her as she ran to the blue Impala and got in, hoping to get to Kareem before the police. She at least owed him that, and she made it half way to Main Street before the vibrations hit the side of her car and a deafening blast slapped against her face through the open window. Her body went ice cold, the chill starting at the base of her spine, running up her back and stopping at the nape of her neck. She knew—without knowing—it was over. Nothing would be the same after this.
She pulled to the side of the road when she saw the line of police cars blocking the intersection, and she left the Impala to join a small group of onlookers moving toward the ocean, toward the tower of black smoke that was billowing above the dunes. As her pace quickened and she broke from the group, a cop with a walkie-talkie grabbed her by the elbow, the static buzzing from his hand and voices spitting commands out of the small gray speaker. His thick fingers pushed against her skin, but she’d already gotten as far as the IGA and there was something lying in the street—something that made her want to yank her arm from his grasp and run to it. But his grip was too tight.
“Move back. Crime scene.”
He ordered her back to an invisible line where others had gathered.
“Move back. C’mon, move!”
The smoke was starting to turn a light gray; a strong sea breeze smeared it across the cloudless sky, shading the sun with an artificial twilight. Sarah listened to the hum of conversation around her, not really hearing it until a hand on her shoulder startled her.
It was Oscar. So much time had passed since the last time they’d seen one another, she almost didn’t recognize him with his crew cut. But with Karen Marie there, standing beside him, Sarah knew who he was, and in a flood of relief, she folded herself against his chest and let the tears come. Karen Marie put her arms around them, so Sarah was in the center of the embrace and couldn’t see the red car parked across the street with its front wheels sunk into the sand or Alexandros, who had been running toward her, suddenly stop. She simply closed her eyes, willing herself to be back in time, back in Owl’s Head with her family, back in the general store. But the past is a closed door, though Sarah longed for it anyway, pressing her eyes tightly together until she could see herself sitting on the stool behind the dated wooded counter beside the old brass resister. And she was home again.
Type of Book: Paperback and ebook
Publication Date: May 2, 2015
Word Count: 84,200 of literary fiction
I fell in love with the story of Your Own Kind immediately. It is one of relationships between parents, parents and their children, neighbors, people of different nationalities. It is about finding love where we least expect it. Your Own Kind explores the ins and outs of relationships where all is not as it seems.
There is a lot of backstory to explain how the characters got to where they were. For the most part this was helpful, but at times, it was perplexing. There was also a lot of jumping around from one period in the characters’ lives to another (past and present). This too, was a cause for some confusion. There were a number of supporting characters, and I feel it would have helped move the story along if the author had narrowed down the characters to those with the most significant roles.
With all of this in mind, my original statement stands. I absolutely enjoyed the story. Even though I felt there were issues with the structure, I would recommend Your Own Kind to anyone who enjoys fiction with well-defined characters, and a strong believable story.
Linda Fagioli-Katsiotas lives on Long Island with her husband, Nick. She teaches English to newly immigrated English language learners at her local middle and high school. This is her first work of fiction, though she has also written a memoir entitled, The Nifi, which inspired her creation of a blog with the same name.
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I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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