Things in Delilah Hannaford’s life have a tendency to fall apart. She used to be a good student, but she can’t seem to keep it together anymore. Her “boyfriend” isn’t much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition.
Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family’s painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?
As almost every teenager in the world, Delilah Hannaford feels like her mom doesn’t understand her. She is never at home, always working, telling her that because there are just the two of them she needs to provide a good life for Delilah. But maybe the girl doesn’t want just material things, something that Claire doesn’t seem to understand. Their relationship is a little broken, and it gets worse when Delilah’s grandmother, a woman she hasn’t see for eight years, dies.
Delilah and Claire need to go to the small town in Vermont where her grandmother lived and died, and where all the memories from the past are locked. In an attempt to understand her mom, her origins and what secrets made her family break, the girl investigates her family and involves herself in memories and people that were long lost in her life. Do her mom and aunt want Delilah to know everything? Why her mom fights against the pull Delilah feel for the past, and what was so bad that made Claire never speak with her grandma again?
Fixing Delilah is truly the better title for a book we’ve seen for a long while. This story is about fixing everything in Delilah’s life and in the life of those who are around her. The narrative is a little mysterious, a little tragic, and so so so good as everything we’ve read from Sarah Ockler—yes, we are fangirls! We get a masterpiece about family, truth and the simple things about life. We have romance, mystery, tears and laughs, and that made Fixing Delilah a full and delicious ride.
Our favorite quotes on this book are bellow.
Aunt Rachel says that the universe is always trying to speak to u, and that the universe doesn’t waste time speaking about things that aren’t within our direct power to influence or change. But if that’s true, the universe needs a better signal.
“She makes her people work on Sundays?” Rachel whispers, pulling some of my grandmother’s old food from the fridge and sniffing it.
“Nah—weekends are optional. They only have to work them if hey want to keep their jobs.”
I head around back, down the big hill, all the way over to the bleachers, turning back only once to look at the house and the tall rows of maples that guard it. Their branches and leaves scratch lightly against the chipped pillars of the wraparound porch and I know that they have the whole story, those trees.
But like the women in my family, they’re not saying anything, either.
“Are we all on the same page, Delilah?”
The same page? I don’t think we’re even in the same library, but no need to bring that up. I nod.
That butterfly keeps banging around inside at the mention of his name. Stupid insect.
“Bad things happen,” I say. “But why does it have to erase all the good?”
“So you have a fan club?” I tease Patrick when she’s finally gone.
“You say fan club, I say stalker.”
He belts it straight out, his voice like milk and honey and everything rich and warm and good. I want to drink it. To take off my clothes and slip into his music like a hot bubble bath.
When I think about Patrick’s show last week, hearing him sing as if it was for me alone, I understand how easy it would be to lose yourself in the heart of another. It’s frightening. Exhilarating. An ocean with no lifeguard.
People change. The things we like and dislike change. And we can wish they wouldn’t all day long, but that never works.
In your entire life, you can probably count your true friends on one hand. Maybe even on one finger. Those are the friends you need to cherish, and I wouldn’t trade one of them for a hundred of the other kind. I’d rather be completely alone than with a bunch of people who aren’t real. People who are just passing time.
If my words were footsteps, I’d have tripped over them and broken both legs by now.
Sometimes I wonder if my whole life will pass by this way: me waiting in the shadows, waiting for something to happen. Waiting for someone else to make it happen. Something new or different or crazy and amazing. I’ve been there for so long, letting everyone else figure it out for me, floating along without much direction or conscious thought. Reacting. Attention-seeking, Mom calls it. Impulsive. Reckless.
Outside, the grand finale blazes on, booming and popping and whiz-banging in the sky: a temporary, explosive celebration of whatever temporary, explosive thing we have. Both beautiful and breathtaking and full of the white-hot, double-dare summer intensity that’s meant not for a lifetime, but for a short and shimmering burst.
“You could have been born British, you know?”
“Then I never would’ve met you,” I say. “On the other hand, I’d have that cool accent, so maybe it would’ve been a good trade-off.’
I love being part of it all, seeing how much he’s changed, and how much he hasn’t—everyone falling instantly hopelessly in love with him as always, stage lights or not, right through his voice and down to his soul—and when he looks out over the crowd and winks at me, I know that all the girls shouting and blowing kisses and dreaming about him tonight, I’m the one he’ll seek when the music fades; my hand is the one he’ll reach for when the lights go dark.
It hurts him. I know, because it hurts me to say it, words slapped against faces like an open palm, raw on sensitive skin.
I watch him leave. I watch him walk away. And I wait forever for him to turn around, to come back, to forgive me, to kiss me again in the rain like nothing else matters.
But he doesn’t. He fades into the shadows and never looks back, leaving me exposed by the soft yellow light of the porch, rain falling all around me.
Remains. As the gray dust swirls and floats down to the lake like falling stars, I look at my family and the people of Red Falls, all of us crying and smiling and remembering and thinking about the same person, and I realize that reamins is the wrong word. The ashes of a body are just that—ashes. The dust of our bones. What remains are the people she left behind. The wake of history and love, however confusing and imperfect, she left for her family. When I think of Elizabeth Rose Hannaford, I won’t remember the ashes over Red Falls Lake, or the pill bottles, or the cruel words she spat at my mother eight years ago. I’ll remember her life—the good things. They happy stories from the people in Red Falls who knew her later, when she was finally able to crawl partway out from under the dark clod of her depression and enjoy her days here.
Elizabeth Rose Hannaford, the mother. The grandmother. The trunk of the family tree from which we all branch and flower.
How can I say I’m sorry for being who I am? For all of the mistakes and bad decisions that led me here, knowing that if not for them, I wouldn’t have found him again?
“I’m lost.” It’s the truth. I never thought it would be so hard to say it, but it is. After all I’ve shared with him, this one thing, this one admission giving voice to the private things that scrape against the walls of my heart, feels shamefully intimate.
I brought her up from the windowsill in Nana’s kitchen to remind me of everything that happened this summer; how easily some things can be broken for good and for bad, and how some things, no matter how shattered, can still go back together.
They helped me learn what true friendship is. It’s never perfect, but it is important.
Stephie was the light in our lives—like a bright, bright star. People always say things like that when someone dies, don’t they?
We arrived in Vermont expecting to fix up the old lake house. But in the end, it was the house that fixed us.
As we watch the last silver of sun dip behind the water, he whispers against my lips those words from the lake that night and I memorize them and the smell of his skin and the honey light in his eyes and the fish sparkling in the water and I know that this time, whatever the universe is saying, I’m listening.
And this time, I’m not going to forget any of it.