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Every Crooked Pot: A novel

Only books purchased below or at the event will be eligible for signing. Park Avenue Summer quantity Unlimited available. As if having such an eccentric dad wasn't enough, Nina has another issue to face: the mirror.

Born with a strawberry birthmark over her eye, Nina spends countless hours applying makeup and trying out ridiculous hairstyles designed to hide her eye. Convinced that her birthmark is the only reason she's not popular and can't find a boyfriend, Nina must find other ways to survive high school. With a string of crazy exploits that have her riding in dryers and appearing on TV, Nina proves she'll do just about anything to fit in, and even more in the hope of finding love. My mother Not since Myla Goldberg's Bee Season has a first novel so deftly captured the complexities, joys, and frustrations of daughters and their families.

It's hard to believe this is a debut — Rosen's voice is already as good as it gets. But even if he ignored you the whole time, you'd still be all excited to go with him the next time, and the time after that. Lissy and Mitch started picking out what my father should wear that day, but I didn't feel like helping.

I was in the bathroom, studying my eye in the mirror. My eyelid still looked lumpy, red, and purple, a little like a raspberry. But when I touched it, it felt solid beneath my fingertips. It had only been five days, and even if nothing was changing on the outside, something inside was under way. Until then, I'dnever really thought about my eye. I knew there was a problem with it, but it wasn't serious.

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It was just my eye. But now that I'd found something that could cure it, my eye had started to bother me. And suddenly, what I wanted more than anything was for it to be normal, like everybody else's. I didn't like the way I looked anymore. I decided I needed to be fixed. Now I understood why my parents had tried to fix me before. I was six weeks old when they first noticed my birthmark.

There it was one day, having surfaced out of nowhere like an unexplained bruise.

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The pediatrician was certain I'd outgrow it. But instead, the hemangioma continued to grow, and by the time I was a year old, my entire right eye was discolored and twice the size of the other one. Before the age of five, I'd undergone four unsuccessful operations. All they did was leave a few tiny scars on my lid where there should have been a fold. After the last surgery, my father started buying thick medical books that he stacked on the floor in his office.

He subscribed to half a dozen medical journals, searching for something that could help. Whenever someone asked about my eye, he'd come back with something like "Aw hell, you should see the other guy. Besides, it always got a laugh. I t was almost four o'clock when my father dropped us off at the diner next door to Flip's nightclub. And while he met with Flip, we kids sat at the counter with my mother, sipping Cokes, waiting. I dug down in the front pocket of my mother's purse for a piece of Juicy Fruit and put the whole stick in my mouth, molding it over my front teeth, like braces.

I showed Mitch and thenhe wanted gum, too. We were both smiling at my mother and Lissy, tilting our heads from side to side, giggling. The waitress behind the counter looked at me a beat too long, offering what I realized was a pitying smile. I closed my mouth and started working the chewing gum off my front teeth with my tongue.

I locked my eyes onto the napkin dispenser, staring at my reflection in the metal holder, looking to see how my eye was doing. I was still studying my eye when my father came through the door. I've been sitting out there honking! My mother paid for our Cokes and then we kids piled into the backseat, silent. We knew my father's moods, and when he got like this, we'd try hard not to give him anything to jump on. A lot.


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And even though my father wouldn't say anything more, we had already figured out he wasn't going to be playing clarinet for Flip. B ack at the hotel room, my father sat on the side of the bed, chewing on the bit of his pipe, sorting through his money, repositioning the twenties on the outside, then the tens, the fives, and, finally, all the singles tucked in the middle.

He always carried his money this way, big bills on the outside and never in a wallet. I think it made him feel like he had more that way. My father still wouldn't speak to us, and my mother was trying to get him to talk, asking where he wanted to go for dinner. He shrugged and finally said he didn't want to go out. My mother lit a cigarette, walked over to the windows and stood there, staring at the ocean.

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She was smoking fast, one puff right after the other. We kids didn't know what to do when they got like this other than keep our mouths shut. It was getting late, and we were hungry. My mother tried again, asking my father if he wanted anything from room service. He just shook his head, and that's when my mother yanked the receiver off its cradle and sent the base of the phone crashing to the floor.

Every Crooked Pot | Renée Rosen

And after she'd placed our order with room service, he made a few groans and moans, and then started letting out phrases like "You try and be a mensch, a stand-up guy, and where does it get you? This was how he got sometimes, and whenever he did, he'd wait, expecting my mother to coax whatever it was out of him that he couldn't bring himself to say. The son of a bitch wants me to get him a deal on carpeting.

How do you know he knows? The man knows! Just comes right out and asks what kind of deal I could work out for him. So tell me what kind of deal you're gonna give me. The rims all looked shiny, peppered with beads of moisture. I told him I'd see what I could do. I mean, we're talking something like seventy-five hundred square feet I could make some decent change Lissy, Mitch, and I nibbled our food, trying to be invisible. My father reached for another fry.

And believe me, this isn't the end of my music! I could round up some talent.

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He must have felt guilty, because in less than a minute he said he was taking us out for a fancy sit-down dessert, where they made banana splits right at your table. As soon as he said that, the air in our room lifted and I started to breathe again, relieved. O n the morning of our last day, my father had slipped back into a quiet mood.

I felt down then, too. We were leaving the next day, and my eye still wasn't normal. But I did have a plan. I'd gotten the idea after seeing bottles of sand in a souvenir shop, stacked next to the canned sunshine and coconut pirate heads. I stuffed the containers inside my beach bag and headed back to the restaurant. And there I sat, back-kicking the leg of my chair while my father settled a dispute with the waiter over the bill.

Who cared if we got charged for an extra order of bacon? It was just bacon and I had to hurry back to the ocean. It didn't start out as much of a beach day. Early on it looked like rain and it was windy and cold. All the hair on my arms was standing straight up and you could see the goose bumps underneath.

The waves were rough and the water had turned mossy green, scalloped with whitecaps. Lissy, Mitch, and I walked along the shoreline, the surf bubbling over our toes, cool and tingly, the sand smooth beneath our feet. I was dragging my beach bag behind me as we walked, the plastic containers clattering around inside. My mother said we couldn't go in the water unless the weather cleared up, and I was feeling cheated, like someone had given me a present and then taken it back.