||November 16, 2008
A funny and poignant romp through sibling rivalry, seventh-grade attitudes, and all around family dysfunction.
In 1970s rural West Texas, 12-year-old Lindy Logan has big dreams. She wants to become the next Karen Carpenter. She strives to acclimate to a new 7th grade class. And she fantasizes about killing her little sister, Jo. But all of these desires lead to her biggest dream of all – acquiring her momma’s unconditional love. Because Momma was once second runner-up in the Miss Texas pageant and twice named Most Beautiful of Turnip High School, Lindy is certain the path to becoming Momma’s favorite child is for Lindy to become famous herself. The only obstacle is 8-year-old Jo, a dead-ringer for the gorgeous Liz Taylor, seeking her own conduit to fame. If Jo gains fame first, Momma will focus all her love on her youngest, and Lindy’s greatest fear will be realized – that she is a nobody. In Raggedy Ann Heart, the Logan sisters deal with budding hormones, imaginary friends, and even Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, all the while competing with each other for the ultimate prize – Momma’s love.
Lindy stepped onto the diving board. Maggie caught herself praying that for once her daughter would not belly flop. But after several minutes, it appeared Lindy would not jump at all. She stared into the water, wearing not the concentration of an Olympic champion, but the self-consciousness of new kids everywhere.
"Gone with the Wind" could have been screened in the time Lindy stood on that board. "Gone with the Wind" including the intermission. Perhaps the worst part was that Lindy now had everyone’s attention. The kids, the caterers, even the snails were curious.
The world had stopped to watch Lindy Logan. Momma knew she was gonna belly flop.
Slowly, Lindy bent at the waist and sprung into the water. Her entrance was effortless. There wasn’t the usual drenching deluge that seemed to empty the pool after a belly flop bomb; there was only the delicate spritz of water that followed a dive of Olympic caliber. Maggie gasped. Her daughter had not embarrassed her. Maggie broke into spontaneous applause. Many others in the crowd followed. For all they knew, they had just witnessed greatness.
Lindy surfaced, bobbing up and down like a buoy in the water. It took her a moment to realize the applause was for her. And just as she began to bask in her glory, the applause trickled away. She narrowed her eyes to counteract her nearsightedness
and saw the horror in Momma’s face.
Lindy followed Momma’s eyes back to the pool, squinted harder, and saw, anchored at its bottom, a green and white piece of cloth. Her bikini top. Lindy’s budding breasts were floating on the water’s surface. Lindy crossed her arms immediately.
Jo yelled out, “She booby flopped!” The crowd erupted in laughter.
Lindy quickly inhaled a gulp of air and dove down as far as she could, determined to drown before ever seeing land again.
It had never dawned on Maggie. Terry-cloth absorbs water, several pounds when submerged. Disaster for a bikini.
Sally turned to Maggie. “I’ll get her a towel. Just don’t let her dive into the pool with it on.” And then Sally walked off, smirking. Hemphill-Wells her ass, she had pegged Maggie’s class from the beginning—low.
Actress born in Lamesa, Tech grad writes her first novel set in West Texas
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Heather McPhaul’s Texas roots are deep, even though she now lives in California. She was born in Lamesa and graduated from Borden County High School and Texas Tech.
McPhaul, who has appeared in TV series like “Boston Legal,” “Will and Grace,” “The Shield,” and “Malcolm in the Middle,” has written her first novel. Not surprisingly, it is set in West Texas.
Her novel, “Raggedy Ann Heart” (booksurge.com, $17.99), revolves around 12-year-old — soon to be 13 — Lindy Logan, who desperately seeks her mother’s approval and love but never can quite figure out how to get it.
A big part of the problem, Lindy figures, has to do with her 8-year-old sister, Jo, who is obviously Momma’s favorite, even if Jo is so weird that she talks to her Fruit Loop People and her imaginary friend Wendy. Father, meanwhile, is virtually impossible to communicate with.
Lindy also longs to be accepted by the cool Fab Four girls at school, but the harder she tries to fit in the worse things seem to be.
McPhaul has penned a novel with characters who come to life on the page. With the author’s acting and entertainment production connections, I wouldn’t be surprised some day to see “Raggedy Ann Heart” as a Lifetime movie. It’s that good, with a powerful story line and plenty of drama and humor.
The novel’s primary audience would seem to be teens and women, but it certainly held my attention as well.
It cries out for a sequel, and McPhaul is kicking around an idea of bringing back the sisters in a second book set perhaps 10 years later.
The novel is a print-on-demand book, so it may not be readily available at stores. If you can’t find it at your bookstore, it can be ordered from amazon.com and booksurge.com. Check out McPhaul’s acting credits at imdb.com and her website www.heathermcphaul.com.
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