Date of Publication: June 7, 2017
Number of pages: 340
Word Count: 122,743
Cover Artist: Keri Knutson
Tagline: A detour down memory lane wakes up the ghosts.
Curtis Aisling has literally dodged a bullet. At least he thinks he has. But he wonders whether that bullet still has it out for him when he leaves his ex-fiancé and Los Angeles behind for Coronado, New Mexico to borrow some much-needed money from his sister.
The small dilapidated desert town of Coronado has exactly one mansion, belonging to 92-year-old Veronica Meeks. Curtis’s sister, Dia, and her partner, Araceli, are Veronica’s live-in caretakers and while they are delighted to have a visitor, Veronica doesn’t even know he’s there.
In the final stages of what the locals call “the reminisce,” she is no longer aware of her surroundings. But when Curtis starts seeing things that no one else does, he’s not convinced that the old, unresponsive woman is as disconnected as everyone thinks. At times what should be empty rooms within the huge house appear filled with furniture, and music emanates from a dusty radio that has been packed away for ages. Tales of Veronica’s associations and connections with the occult lead Curtis to believe she is causing the ghostly occurrences.
But when people begin to appear in those phantom rooms—people from her past including Veronica herself—he’s no longer certain it is her doing. Each vision pulls Curtis further and further back, each one detailing a consequential moment in Veronica’s long life, until he begins to fear he could become lost in her past. And then there’s that bullet…
The question I’ve been asked is: What about this book makes it special? That’s a loaded question for sure. My first instinct is to say, “Because all my books are special.” But I don’t think that’s the sort of answer that provides you any insight into the book (although it does give a glimpse of my penchant for smartass-ery). The actual answer is that, although on the surface “The Reminisce” is a tale about a man in his thirties being drawn into the memories of a woman in her nineties, it is also a story of a brother and a sister and the love that they share.
Curtis Aisling is not what you’d call driven. In fact, he has a knack for skating through life, even though he doesn’t think of it that way. Conversely, his older sister Dia Castillo (they have different fathers) has always been determined and has never relied on anyone but herself to get through the twists and turns of life. Up until the events that take place in the book both outlooks have served the siblings fairly well. For Curtis, however, luck comes to an abrupt end when his fiancée calls off the engagement and kicks him out of the house. That’s how he finds himself back in his home state of New Mexico, visiting his sister and her girlfriend, who are the caretakers for the richest lady in town. His arrival also alters the daily life that Dia has carefully cultivated.
Being a sibling—half-, step-, or whole—is an exercise juggling the feelings of love, hate, jealousy, exasperation, admiration, and that familial bond, that shared experience that only people who have grown up in the same household can have. And of course there is the placement within the family. The younger sibling always seems to get away with things the older sibling never could. That’s how it is for Curtis and Dia. They grew up in a home run by a (most of the time) single mother and are a few years apart. Dia, as the elder child, has an entirely different perspective than her baby brother on what growing up together meant. She likes to think that she has a clearer view of Curtis than he seems to have of himself, while Curtis believes that her vision is tinged by the past that he had no control over. They are both absolutely wrong and absolutely right, leaving them to face who they were then, who they are now, and how it makes them different but not separate. Or, as their mother might say, “All my children are special.”
Dia returned her attention to the old woman and took her bony, veiny hand. “Veronica, honey, this is my brother Curtis. You’ve seen his picture in our bedroom, remember? He came for a visit.” She looked up at Curtis. “Veronica was quite smitten with you the first time she saw your picture. Couldn’t take her eyes off it and she would just smile and smile.”
Curtis knelt next to his sister. Greeting the old woman seemed pointless, since it was obvious by her vacant stare that she wasn’t aware of her surroundings. But his sister was right; introducing himself was the proper way to behave regardless of her condition. “Hello, Miss Meeks. I’m Curtis Aisling.”
The old woman’s wispy gray hair was short and pulled back by small butterfly barrettes. Her thin face was pinkish-white, wrinkled, and haloed with brown age spots. The eyes that seemed to be looking at something no one else could see were a cloudy gray-blue. Her small frame was covered in a clean pink nightgown and she wore blue slippers.
“How old is she?” Curtis asked.
Dia stood up to help Araceli gather the tray with Veronica’s barely touched lunch on it. “Ninety-two.”
Remaining crouched before her, Curtis continued to look at the old woman. He found it difficult to imagine that the slack face in front of him had once been young, but he searched for signs of it anyhow. If there was life in her dull gaze, Curtis was sure he would find it there. A strong hot breeze rattling the palm fronds behind the gazebo hit him in the back. That’s when Veronica blinked and looked right at him.
“Finally,” she whispered.
About the Author:
H.L. Cherryholmes, author of The Lizard Queen Series, The Reminisce, Come Back for Me, and A Slight Touch was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico but has spent most of his adult life in California. He has a BFA from University of New Mexico and a Master's degree in Playwriting from the University of California, Los Angeles. Currently, he lives in SoCal with his husband, Ron Cogan.