"Even shaking with fear, you can still scale the fence."

The following is an excerpt from Jillian Lauren's new book, Everything You Ever Wanted which I started reading on the plane home from Mom 2 and have been unable to put down. (This is the fastest I've read anything in years. Literally. I am still working through four novels three, four and five years after cracking them.) Jillian is an incredible writer and mother and woman and her book is an absolute light. And so, it is my honor and privilege to post an excerpt from Everything, as well as offer a giveaway (see below!) to GGC readers. Take it away, Jillian!


There are three kinds of daylight in Los Angeles. There is the midday light—flat and relentless. Usually partnered with heat, it catches and suspends you, like a formaldehyde solution. It has weight, singes your lungs, would poison the rain if the rain ever fell. Makes you wish the bloody red sunset would hurry up and come already.

There is the light after a rare rainstorm—the cerulean blue sky that frames the Hollywood sign and breathes new life into a thou- sand impossible dreams. Shatters your heart into glistening David Hockney swimming-pool pieces. You feel rich. You want to be driving down Sunset Boulevard through Beverly Hills in a convertible. Forget that. You want to be driven down Sunset in a Bentley with tinted windows. Only tourists admit they want to be seen.

Finally there is the dawn—cool, pale, and still smudged with shadows from the night before. In Hollywood, for many people it still is the night before. But for those of us who wake with the dawn instinctively, it is forgiving. It is forgiveness. It is soft, from the humbler east, more understated than the garish twilight displays over the ocean. It yearns for something clean that never comes. No matter—it is the yearning that counts.The dawn is my time. I always rise before everyone. More often than not, I dress quickly, have a few sips of tea, and walk out the door to exercise.

On the morning of my eighteen-month-old son Tariku’s final adoption hearing at the Children’s Court in Monterey Park, I wake at five. The hearing is a formality, but a significant one. After this, he will be irrevocably ours. My husband, Scott, and T are sleeping next to me. The pale predawn light seeps around the edges of the curtains. We don’t have to be there until ten. I slip out of bed and lace up my sneakers.

There is a hill on the southern border of our neighborhood in northeast L.A. A road cuts over it, but the backside is undeveloped, with trails I’ve yet to explore. The road is steep and winding. A good hike, I think, and doable in time. If I walk at a brisk clip, I don’t even need the car.

I feel strong as I push toward the top. When I reach the crest, the trail looks clearly marked. I figure fifteen minutes to the bot- tom. Perfect. When I arrive home, Scott will have just woken up with T, the morning chores will be underway, and I will plunge in.

But now I’m headed down and something is wrong I hike enough to be able to feel when a trail is going wrong—probably heading to a dead end. I go back to the last fork and take another trail, which also ends abruptly. Through the branches, I can see the back of what looks like a high school down below. I figure I can bushwhack my way through the brush, then walk through the cam- pus and back out to the street. It won’t be far. After that my home is just over the next familiar hill.

It’s harder than I thought. Burrs invade my shoes; an errant twig scratches my face; another tears my favorite leggings. At the bottom, I remember that this isn’t the era I grew up in, of smoking pot and getting felt up in the woods behind the library. This is the era of high-security schools. A tall chain-link fence blocks my pas- sage.

My chest seizes and I recoil. When I was a kid, the jagged end of chain link ripped my hand open. I still remember the pale blue T-shirt I was wearing, the smell of damp earth after I hit the ground. It always takes me a minute to remember . . . this injury never actually happened to me. It happened to my father. When I was little, I used to ask my dad over and over again to tell me how he got the thin white scar that bisected his palm and ran down his forearm nearly to his elbow. I heard the story so many times it became almost as much a part of my own body as it was his. In my dreams, it’s always me: stumbling, light-headed, nearly bleeding to death, trying to hold my torn skin together with my blood-soaked T-shirt. I’m not delusional. If I think about it, I realize that of course that scar is my father’s scar. Still, the memory comes to me in a momentary stab of fear. 

I’m chilly in the shady grove, my sweaty shirt cooling in the morning breeze.

It’s one of my greatest fears that my hurt will become Tariku’s, in spite of my best efforts to give him a whole new world. Maybe the legacy of our parents’ pain is unavoidable. Maybe these scars are not just psychological but somehow cellular. Maybe the darkest moments of my story are so deeply inscribed in my body, my voice, my very soul that I won’t be able to help transmitting them.

I steel myself, wedge my toe into the diamond of chain link, and pull myself over the top. Maybe so, I think. But I can also transmit this: Even shaking with fear, you can still scale the fence. 


To enter to win a signed copy of Everything You Ever Wanted AS WELL as a signed copy of Weezer's new album Everything Will be Alright in the End (Jillian's husband plays bass in the band) please leave a comment below. I'll pick one winner next Thursday, May 21st.) You can also purchase your own copy of Jillian's book, here

unnamed-1 (I love her.)

UPDATED: Congrats to Erika C for winning the book + CD! And thanks to all for participating!