Guest Author Post - Donna Levin

Donna Levin - Wikipedia

About the Talking Stick - From the Author's Perspective - Donna Levin.

 Hunter Fitzgerald has a problem.  Well, two problems, actually.  She’s lost her job as a fitness center manager, her husband has left her for one of their friends after running up a $40,000 debt on their joint credit card, and now, though she’s frantically making calls and sending emails in search of a new position, her professional contacts are ghosting her.

Desperate for money to pay her electric bill, she gathers her William Shatner Christmas albums and heads to the local flea market to sell them.  There she meets a mysterious woman who gives her an ancient Navajo talking stick with the implied promise that it will come in handy.

Through a series of accidents that might-not-be accidents, Hunter soon meets three other women: Dannika, a young woman mourning her mother’s death, Alicia, an obstetrician with a troubled teenage daughter, and Penelope, an older woman in denial about her Valium habit.  The women form a group and put the talking stick to use to keep order.

But strange things happen when they take turns holding the talking stick.  Each woman recalls an incident from her past, but this time she sees it in a different way: Hunter realizes that she was at least partly responsible for the failure of her marriage.  Dannika has to challenge her own memory of the mother she worshipped (“she was loving and limited”).  Alicia reevaluates an early choice she made regarding her daughter, while Penelope… but no spoilers here.

The book isn’t about the past, though. Each new memory spurs the women to take action to make changes.  Meanwhile, they come to rely on each other in ways that bring new meaning to their lives.  

The Talking Stick is about how we shape our memories to align with our personal narrative, and how, in the sometimes challenging process of recognizing the truth, we can live more authentic lives.

It’s also about a collection of unlikely friendships.  Four women with nothing in common learn to help and even to love each other.

I see The Talking Stick as a dramatization of what good therapy does, though in real life it’s going to take longer than it does in this novel.  (That’s why they call it “fiction.”)  Also, I’m not a writer for whom the characters “take over” and tell me what they want to do.  It was only after I put in the work (lots of backstory that was only for me, and lots of rewriting — lots of rewriting) that Hunter and her friends did become real to me.  They live in my head now, and I believe they live on the page, much happier at the end than at the beginning.

Donna Levin

Goodreads Link -



Popular posts from this blog

Review: Steel Princess - Rina Kent

Review: Punk 57 - Penelope Douglas

Review: Dr. Strange Beard - Penny Reid