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Gail Ylitalo

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Ugly Opal
by Gail Ylitalo   

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Books by Gail Ylitalo
· Blackberry Summer
· Then Said Solomon
· Convoluted Ramblings
· Sunday's Rose
· Auntie
                >> View all


Literary Fiction

Publisher: ISBN-10:  1411657047 Type: 


Copyright:  2005

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Lulu Press
Writings of Gail Ylitalo

In a quiet, shadow-filled hospital room, Opal slowly drifts into her past. With each drop of the morphine drip, she slips into those memories that had served to make her stronger, more compassionate, and better focused during life’s relentless test of endurance. Ugly Opal calls out as she crosses back into the fragile world of her youth. A journey begins that awakens her soul to complete awareness of life and what it truly means to understand and to forgive.

“…Already there were children and parents marching door to door. Trick-or-treat seemed to echo down the road. I skirted around them and headed for the cemetery. It was there that the ghosts would appear and talk to their loved ones. I’d read that in one of my mother’s old books about religions around the world. This wasn’t Mexico but since when did spirits stick to geography! The further I walked away from the houses the darker it got. It wasn’t long before I was the only person on the now unpaved road. I could feel my heart thumping in my chest. There hadn’t been a frost yet, so the night was filled with an anemic shrill that never ceased. My resolve started to crumble when I arrived at the Oak Way Cemetery gates and found a chain wrapped around them. A large lock held the chain together, and there wasn’t enough room for me to get through. I sat down and fought back my tears. How could I talk to Nanny if I couldn’t even get in?
I sat with my back against the gate. I could feel the cold through my costume but found it comforting in a strange sort of way. This was the night for the dead, so why shouldn’t it feel like it? Deciding that I’d have to perform the ceremony outside the cemetery since I couldn’t get in, I reached into my pillowcase and took out the drawing, the apple, and the tea light candle. The matches were in my pocket (I’d stolen them from Queenie). I carefully set up my offering. This would bring my grandmother to me so we could talk before night ended. I lit the candle and prayed she would come…”

Professional Reviews

Ugly Opal
“Ugly Opal is a first person retrospect of important scenes in the main character’s life as she lay ready for her deathbed. As long as she could remember, Opal had been called ugly, actually ugly and smelly. Her siblings tormented her with the nickname Ugly Opal and her abusive parents called her homely. Despite, or perhaps because of her own pain, Opal is drawn to people who are also outsiders without any ounce of prejudice or desire to name call.
Ugly Opal is a touching novel filled with the pain and hurt of feeling different and never quite fitting in. I can’t say I really enjoyed this story because it is rather dark and the character rather desperate being on her deathbed and all, not really the type of story that one is entertained by. Nonetheless, I felt that the author amply and realistically described the cruelty of children and adults alike when it comes to those perceived as somehow different.” Tami Brady, TCM Reviews

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