Today we’re sharing a guest post by Cecilia Galante, author of The Invisibles, available now!
In the vein of Meg Donohue and Jennifer Close, The Invisibles is about the complicated and powerful bonds of female friendship—a compelling, moving novel that is told in both the present and the past.
Thrown together by chance as teenagers at Turning Winds Home for Girls, Nora, Ozzie, Monica, and Grace quickly bond over their troubled pasts and form their own family which they dub The Invisibles. But when tragedy strikes after graduation, Nora is left to deal with the horrifying aftermath alone as the other three girls leave home and don’t look back.
Fourteen years later, Nora is living a quiet, single life working in the local library. She is content to focus on her collection of “first lines” (her favorite opening lines from novels) and her dog, Alice Walker, when out-of-the-blue Ozzie calls her on her thirty-second birthday. But after all these years, Ozzie hasn’t called her to wish a happy birthday. Instead, she tells Nora that Grace attempted suicide and is pleading for The Invisibles to convene again. Nora is torn: she is thrilled at the thought of being in touch with her friends, and yet she is hesitant at seeing these women after such a long and silent period of time. Bolstered by her friends at the library, Nora joins The Invisibles in Chicago for a reunion that sets off an extraordinary chain of events that will change each of their lives forever.
The Invisibles is an unforgettable novel that asks the questions: How much of our pasts define our present selves? And what does it take to let go of some of our most painful wounds and move on?
From Cecilia Galante:
When my publisher asked me to write a piece for the Book Club Girl blog, I panicked a bit. I’m fine with writing something that has a clear direction or needs to be about a certain topic. But “anything pieces” mean just that: anything. They can range from long, emotionally wrought essays to short, funny little bits. They can be personal, vague, or having nothing to do with anything at all. Ultimately though, I think what readers would like to hear is the author’s voice. Get a little glimpse into his or her world so that when it comes to time to read the words they’ve put on a page, they can feel as though they have just the slightest bit of understanding of where the author came from. Am I right? I hope I’m right.
To that end, I’m going to share with you the five most important pieces of advice that I’ve learned through the years. I compiled this list when I was asked to be the keynote speaker at girl’s conference in Wilkes-Barre, PA. The girls at this conference were part of a group called The Magnolia Project, which targeted low-income high school students who were in danger of dropping out, and assigning them a mentor who made sure they did not. These mentors were local, successful women in the work force who met with the girls twice a week, helped them with their school work, and encouraged them not only to stay in school and graduate, but to strive even higher. To make something of themselves. I was asked to speak at the end of this year, at these girls’ graduation party. So many girls came up to me afterward to thank me and share their stories that to this day, it remains one of the things I am most proud of, and one of the things I am most grateful to have been a part of.
FIVE LIFE-LESSONS I’VE LEARNED SO FAR
Because you will fail. At something. Usually, it’s regarding the thing you want to do best or be the greatest at. I sent out manuscripts for almost 11 years before I got so much as a nibble. This summer, my seventh novel, The Invisibles, will be published. Here’s the shortcut to sidelining failure: REFUSE TO TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER. If you have something in your life that you believe in, whether it’s becoming a professional sky diver, or moving to Tahiti, don’t let anything to stand in your way. When people tell you no, tell them why that answer is unacceptable. And then show them why. Go make it happen.
This goes hand in hand with failing. One of the ways we get up in life after we fall is by reaching out and taking someone else’s hand. And that’s great. But sometimes the person we need or want isn’t there. And that’s when you have to lean on yourself. Figure out how to get yourself through the tough times. Stop being so hard on yourself, so mean! I used to spend whole evenings berating myself when I got a rejection from a publisher, telling myself I was no good, that I would never amount to anything. That’s crap. And it only makes it 20 times harder to get back up and start moving again. Go buy a container of Ben and Jerry’s and eat it in front of a Law & Order: SVU marathon. Stay up all night drinking too much wine. Go for a run. Cry in the shower, and then draw a bath and cry some more. Then get up. Dry off. Go to sleep. In the morning, the feelings might still be there. But so will you. Which means you made it through. Which means you can do it again.
This world is not always the kindest place to be. You have to learn to be brave. And I’m not talking about walking around alone at night, or getting up in someone’s face. I’m talking about doing the right thing – even when it’s hard. Every year, I teach the magnificent novel, To Kill a Mockingbird to my 8th graders. One of my favorite quotes in the book is by Atticus Finch when he tells Scout that “courage is knowing you’re whipped before you even start; and starting anyway.” Be scared. And then go do it anyway.
For a long time, I blamed other people for the mistakes I made. If only I had been raised differently. If only I had been given more, or given less. If only, if only. But that mantra only got me so far. The truth is that when you become an adult, whether or not you’ve been given the tools to navigate your life, you are still in charge of your life. You are the one responsible now for the choices you make. Wasting time by looking back at the past and blaming the people who didn’t measure up is going to be just that: a waste of time. Today is all we have. Literally. The past is gone; the future isn’t here yet. Every single day though, we can make the choice to live our best lives. To make ourselves the truest, bravest women we can be. To live, and love.
Again and again.
I saved this for last, because I think it is the most important. It’s also the one that been the hardest for me to learn. I’ve spent so much of my life mistrusting myself, doubting my instincts, that I ignored the compass-voice in my head that steered me over and over again in the right direction. Every time I did, I found myself in a situation that was dead wrong. Being true to yourself is the most important gift you can ever give yourself. And as a result, it’s the most important gift you can give the world. Because if you go out into the world as your truest, most authentic self, living the kind of life that makes you happiest, with the people you want to live it with, you will already be one step ahead of things. If you are being true to yourself all you can give is your best. If you are true to yourself, the rest will come.