Top 10 things or places that remind you of your book
1. Magnolias. The magnolia tree on what used to be Meg’s property (but drops all its blossoms onto Otis’s) is a recurring motif in Phantom Limbs and a reminder of Meg and how much he loved—and still loves—her. Their first kiss happened beneath the magnolia tree, and each spring when it blooms, it leaves him with more feelings than he can comfortably manage. “On the branches above me, I could just make out the fat magnolia buds. Any day now they would explode into a fucking carnival of white and pink flowers—a spectacle that had kicked me in the nuts for the last three years. But now? Now I didn’t know how to feel about it.”
2. Swimming pools. Swimming factors heavily into Phantom Limbs—it is just an everyday fact of life for both Otis and Dara. Dara, whose arm amputation means she can never be the Olympian she aspired to be, and Otis, whom Dara expects to carry that torch for her.
3. Rhubarb—and rhubarb pie. Otis’s mom grows rhubarb and bakes rhubarb pies—something Otis and Meg loved as kids. Rhubarb pie also features in one of Meg’s memories from when she first met Otis. As she teasingly recounts it to him when they see each other again years later, “When we first moved in, you and your mom brought one over and I asked you what rhubarb was. You said it was a plant in your yard that was, and I’m quoting here, ‘really sour, with poisonous leaves.’”
4. Caramel. Meg always loved everything caramel, and Otis never forgot it. She is moved almost to tears when they reconnect after years apart to learn the countless things about her he still remembers.
5. Paw Paw, Michigan, aka “Silver Lake.” An actual place that the entirety of the Michigan vacation house/town in Phantom Limbs is modeled after. Like Otis’s family, my family used to vacation there in the summers.
6. Water lilies. Meg loved water lilies, and even in the face of seeing Meg with her boyfriend, Otis makes the most heartbreaking romantic gesture imaginable with them.
7. Peaches. Meg had a bit of an emotional meltdown once during the years they were apart over the smell of peaches, and it sort of symbolizes the agony of all the things Otis and Meg were unable to share with each other after their families were driven apart.
8. Toy dump trucks. These are a terrible reminder of Otis’s little brother Mason, who died when Meg still lived next door. Mason mispronounced nearly everything, but the way he pronounced his favorite toy (“dumbfuck”) was a source of particular glee and hilarity for Otis and Meg as kids.
9. Sriracha sauce. Meg is obsessed with it and thinks Otis should be, too.
10. Navigation lady voice. Which goes both to Meg’s strengths (impersonations) and weaknesses (zero sense of direction).How do you move on from an irreplaceable loss? In a poignant debut, a sixteen-year-old boy must learn to swim against an undercurrent of grief—or be swept away by it.
Otis and Meg were inseparable until her family abruptly moved away after the terrible accident that left Otis’s little brother dead and both of their families changed forever. Since then, it’s been three years of radio silence, during which time Otis has become the unlikely protégé of eighteen-year-old Dara—part drill sergeant, part friend—who’s hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be. But when Otis learns that Meg is coming back to town, he must face some difficult truths about the girl he’s never forgotten and the brother he’s never stopped grieving. As it becomes achingly clear that he and Meg are not the same people they were, Otis must decide what to hold on to and what to leave behind. Quietly affecting, this compulsively readable debut novel captures all the confusion, heartbreak, and fragile hope of three teens struggling to accept profound absences in their lives.
Paula Garner spends most of her time making food, drinks, and narratives, despite being surrounded by an alarming TBR pile and a very bad cat. Her debut YA novel, Phantom Limbs, comes out from Candlewick in 2016. Paula is represented by Molly Jaffa of Folio Lit, and lives in the Chicago area with her family.
Tour Schedule:Week 1:
9/6: The Litaku - Review
9/12: The Plot Bunny - Review
9/13: Go Read A Book - Q&A
9/15: Novel Novice - Playlist
9/16: The Young Folks - Review
3 Finished Copies of PHANTOM LIMBS (US Only)