A Scattered Life by Karen McQuestionA Scattered Life by Karen McQuestion

A Scattered Life

byKaren McQuestion

Paperback | May 25, 2016

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Free-spirit Skyla Plinka has found the love and stability she always wanted in her reliable husband Thomas. Settling into her new family and roles as wife and mother, life in rural Wisconsin is satisfying, but can't seem to quell Skyla's growing sense of restlessness. Her only reprieve is her growing friendship with neighbor Roxanne, who has five kids (and counting) and a life in constant disarray - but also a life filled with laughter and love.&nbspMuch to the dismay of her intrusive mother-in-law, Audrey, Skyla takes a part-time job at the local bookstore and slowly begins to rediscover her voice, independence and confidence. Throughout one pivotal year in the life of Skyla, Audrey and Roxanne, all three very different women will learn what it means to love unconditionally. With the storytelling ingenuity of Anne Tyler, the writing talent of Jodi Picoult, and the subtlty of Alice Munro, McQuestion offers a satisfying debut that proves she is a gifted portraitist, a natural storyteller and an author to watch.
Karen McQuestion's essays have appeared in Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, Denver Post, Christian Science Monitor and several anthologies. Originally self-published as an e-book original, A Scattered Life became the first self-published e-book to ever be optioned for film.
Title:A Scattered LifeFormat:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.75 inPublished:May 25, 2016Publisher:Houghton Mifflin HarcourtLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0547745001

ISBN - 13:9780547745008

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Read from the Book

Skyla’s earliest memory of Thomas was linked with the smell ofbeer and the taste of blood. She was waitressing at a Mexican restaurantthat semester, the one over on Brewer Street with the redtiled roof and the neon sombrero in the window. Enchiladas andfajitas were a novelty in small-town Wisconsin, where the traditionalcuisine leaned toward grilled bratwurst, Friday fish fries,and coleslaw. The restaurant did a brisk trade, even if some of thelocals did pronounce the J in fajita and said pollo as if it were aNASA mission. Skyla worked five shift s a week, five more thanshe wanted to. Every day she intended to quit, but by closing time she’dchange her mind. For weeks she carried a handwritten note in thepocket of her rust-colored, flouncy skirt. It said, “I, Skyla Medley,give Las Tejas restaurant two weeks’ notice of my termination ofemployment.” The note stayed the same except for the date, whichshe crossed off and changed from time to time. It was the latest in a long series of jobs. Actually, a long seriesof everything—new schools, new jobs, new places to live. She wasonly twenty, but she’d always been on the move. Staying in onespot didn’t have many advantages as far as she could tell, but theconstant motion was wearing. Getting a new job was never a problem. Neither was givingnotice. Skyla wasn’t quite sure what held her back this time.Somehow she’d misplaced her momentum. For the first time shewondered what it would be like to build a history in one place. Still, the thought of quitting Las Tejas never left her mind.The boss, big Bruno, who wasn’t even Mexican, barked ordersconstantly. She hated the yelling almost as much as she hated thehot plates and the sticky margarita glasses, which were top-heavy.She found it difficult to hoist the food trays very high and woundup resting them on her shoulders. The fajita meat was served onhot skillets that sizzled and spit next to her ear. The wait staff sat at the tiled tables after hours, drinking sodassecretly spiked with rum and swapping stories of rude customersand messy children. They were mostly college students, half ofthem young men. The only thing that kept them coming back nightafter night was the tips—big wads of bills and handfuls of change. Skyla was one of the younger ones, and she was so petite thatmost of her coworkers initially guessed she was in high school.And because she was quiet, they assumed she was shy. But neitherwas true. She was an observer of life and a college student majoringin art. The cooks and busboys joked with her, commentingon her reddish hair and pale skin (“Seen the sun lately, Skyla?”)but couldn’t get more than a smile out of her. She went about herbusiness, clearing dishes and warning people about hot plates,and before long she figured out who was sleeping with whom andwhich bartenders were helping themselves to money in the till.People were pretty easy to get a handle on if you took the time towatch and listen. The night Skyla met Thomas, she had just finished her shift .Business was slow that evening because the Green Bay Packerswere playing on Monday Night Football. She’d lived in Wisconsinfor almost a year and still didn’t understand the natives’ reverencefor the Packers. Time card in hand, she headed toward the backroom, but before she could punch out, big Bruno recruited herto wash glasses behind the bar. She didn’t mind the washing toomuch, but the spongy floor mats were sticky and the air was thickwith cigarette smoke. She lowered each glass onto a sudsy revolving brush anddipped them into the rinsing sink before placing them to the sideto dry. The process was so superficial it left her wondering if theglasses were really clean. Because her back was to the rest of the bar, Skyla wasn’t fullyaware of what happened next. The sound of the football game muffledthe noise of the commotion behind her. She remembered hearinga shout and turning to look. A flash of green flannel pushedagainst her with the force of a linebacker and threw her several feet.The back of her head hitting the edge of the bar broke her fall. It was the talk of Las Tejas for weeks to come. The busboywith the bad skin liked to tell his version of the story. “I saw thewhole thing,” he said. “That guy in the plaid shirt was huge—hadto be three hundred pounds and six foot five at least. He got madwhen Bruno wouldn’t give him another shot of tequila.” The busboy paused for dramatic effect. “That little Skyla wasjust minding her own business, just washing glasses, didn’t havenothin’ to do with it at all. Then that guy barged back behind thebar and crashed right into her.” He slapped his fist into his palm.“Bam! Knocked her against the bar, and she hit the floor cold. Oneof her shoes even went flying. Blood everywhere. It took Brunoand two other guys to drag that drunk out of there. Then someguy sitting at the bar jumped over it like a damn pole-vaulter andwent back by Skyla. I think he was a doctor or something.” Skyla remembered lying on the floor behind the bar and lookingup at Thomas’s concerned face. He appeared as if in a dream,kneeling above her saying, “Don’t you worry about a thing; you’regoing to be fine.” It was all so hazy and surreal she wondered if hewere an angel, although she’d never heard of one with wire-rimglasses before. She was vaguely aware of more yelling and the taste and feelof blood in her mouth, but it was background noise comparedto Thomas’s reassurances. “Who are you?” she tried to ask rightbefore she lost consciousness, but her tongue was swollen whereshe’d bit it and the words didn’t come out right.