The Beginner's Guide to Living (21 page)

BOOK: The Beginner's Guide to Living
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“It was a really hard time for you…”


“Still,” she nods, her lips grazing my cheek.

I lift the umbrella above our heads.

*   *   *

As we walk toward the station, I look back at my mother's grave, the two stones balanced one upon the other, and picture what is written there, the words illegible through the rain. Dad must have chosen them—I didn't notice at the funeral, not until today. Carved in white letters into the smooth black stone are the words
To live on in the hearts of those we love is not to die

20. What fragment of truth will be mine?


My mother in a long white dress and pearl earrings. Beautiful. I gaze up at her and ask her if she's an angel, but she smiles and says, “I'm going to a party.” She's dusting powder on her face. “What is it?” she asks, seeing me still there. I reach out, touch that lovely white dress with my fingers, “When are you going to die?”

“Not for a long time,” she says, kissing me on the cheek.


I wish to thank Catherine Clift for embracing Will's story from the outset, and Josh Overs, who was younger than Will when this all began, for his insight and unrelenting honesty. Also, Tom Joyce, Cath Tregillis, Simon Palfrey, Robert Hillman, Marian Spires, and Donna Jordan, for listening, reading and responding, each in their own way. I see you all in quiet corners of this story.

Penny Hueston of Text Publishing in Australia, with her meticulous eye for detail, helped shape this novel from its raw beginnings to what it has become. To Penny, and to Michael Heyward for his part in this, my gratitude is unbounded. My thanks also to Anne Beilby for helping me find a readership overseas, and to Kirsty Wilson, my publicist, for her professionalism and generosity of spirit.

Since the release of my novel in Australia and New Zealand, I have received many wonderful responses from readers and want to thank them for their openness and enthusiasm for my work.

One morning, not so long ago, I received a very exciting call from New York—it was from Margaret Ferguson, Editorial Director at Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, telling me how much she loved my novel and wanted to publish it. I am looking forward to taking Will's story to a new audience.

Finally, a special thank you to my boys, without whom none of this would make any sense.


Copyright © 2009 by Lia Hills

All rights reserved

First published in Australia by Text Publishing, 2009

First American edition, 2010

All photographs in the book were taken by Lia Hills.

“They see sky and remember what they are”
is from the television show
, episode called “Safe.”

“That's not just incense”
is from the movie

eBooks may be purchased for business or promotional use. For information on bulk purchases, please contact Macmillan Corporate and Premium Sales Department by writing to [email protected]

eISBN 9781466872004

First eBook edition: April 2014

BOOK: The Beginner's Guide to Living
13.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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