About Raising Cheer
When her popular older sister Sabine dies in a cheerleading accident, 17-year-old Brady Wilson discovers that there was more to the fall than anyone wants to admit. Things get even more complicated when she falls in love with the boy who allegedly caused the accident.
Sabine’s car sits in the driveway like a tombstone. Bird droppings cover half the windshield and if you were in Ms. Bowerman’s art class, she’d tell you they were beautiful as a Kandinsky. All toothpasty, thick, yellowish-white—interesting, maybe, but not beautiful. Not even pretty. Every day this month, on my way to the bus stop, I’ve passed those splatters on that dead Volvo and I feel it crying for Sabine. Inside, where its cold engine gets colder every day, I imagine that the car is aching for the girl who’s now ashes heaped in a piece of Asian crockery. If I were that car, I’d wonder what happened to the girl who used to blast music and rev the engine, and peel out of the high school parking lot much too fast each day.
Dad almost put the car on Craig’s List, but then he didn’t. “Little Bird, you’re old enough for your license,” he said. “Maybe we should give you the car.”
I don’t want my dead sister’s car, but I nodded. Best not to argue with Dad these days.
It’s the daffodils and tulips time of year. The warm of spring, more than a hint in the air. More smiles on dog-walkers faces. Kids out past dinner shooting their winter-flat basketballs into bent and rusty hoops up and down our street. On the way to the bus, when I pass neighbors, they do that shy smile thing. Then look away. Just seeing me, I know it makes them sad all over again. A month is past the time when people can say, Sorry for your loss. But it’s not far enough past the accident that they can be happy and normal around me.
I’m supposed to be part of the Greenmeadow Art Show tonight. They’re giving me the Lilith Cupworth prize for my charcoal drawing of a homeless guy and his dog. The Portland Journal will do a piece for the Life & Lifestyles section. Clap, clap. Good for you. Here’s your five-hundred dollar scholarship. Sorry your sister’s dead.
My leggings and Goodwill coat, my purple Keds, the front half of my hair dyed emerald and the henna tattoo around my wrist like a bracelet—that’s the uniform they all know Brady Wilson by, the way I was different than my cheerleader sister. But it’s all just a stupid costume. High school is like the turbines in a dam, and the attendees are the salmon. Some fish make it, some don’t. I kick a crumpled PBR can someone tossed near a hedge. In my head, there’s the rhythm of Sabine’s voice chanting just like she’s still here, playing our childhood game, safety, danger, safety, danger, past the various lawns on my street. I hear the bus squeaking to a stop around the corner. I should run, but don’t.
For inquiries regarding Suzy’s RAISING CHEER, please contact Melissa Sarver at Folio Literary Management.
Praise for Suzy’s Fiction
“To read Suzy Vitello’s work is like sneaking a look at a complicated diary—compelling, funny, sometimes terrifying in the hard details of humanity.” -Monica Drake, author of Clown Girl and The Stud Book
“Suzy Vitello Soulé writes like the sweet, smart, sassy person I aspire to be. Her stories are full of mystery and longing and the endless and varied complexities of ten thousand kinds of love. She’s never written a page that didn’t make me ache for another one. Her work is sheer must-gobble-it-up.” -Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things
“What I love most about reading Suzy Vitello’s stories is that I feel like I am inside the world of her characters so deeply that I start talking aloud to them. They are my friends, my sisters, my mother, my lovers, my husbands and ex-husbands and daughters and sons. I could stay inside her stories and not come out.” -Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Chronology of Water and Dora: A Head Case