• Paperback: 332 pages
• Publisher: Fawkes Press, LLC (November 5, 2020)
Immortality’s a bitch.
Veronica is eternally fifty-one years old with a proclivity for problematic drinking. Like most hormonally challenged women negotiating the change of life, she is a hot mess. To retain her sanity, she attends weekly AA meetings and adheres to a strict diet of organic, locally-sourced, (mostly) cruelty-free human blood from the hospice facility where she works. Her life stopped being fun about a hundred years ago, right about the time her teenage daughter stole her soul and took off for California with a hot, older guy. These days, Veronica’s existence is just that – an existence, as flat and empty as her own non-reflection in the bathroom mirror.
When her estranged daughter contacts her via Facebook, Veronica learns that she has one chance to escape her eternal personal summer: she must find and apologize to every one of the people she’s turned into vampires in the last century. That is, if they’re still out there. With raging hormones and a ticking clock, Veronica embarks on a last-ditch road trip to regain her mortality, reclaim her humanity, and ultimately, die on her own terms.
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Veronica Bouchard has been stuck as a menopausal 51 year old woman for the last 200 years or so, ever since her daughter turned her into whatever vampiric thing she is now and ran off with her piano teacher. Now, Veronica sustains herself as a hospice nurse on the night shift, humanly taking blood from the dead and nearly dying. She has been on a cruelty free diet thanks to AA until a slip-up at a disastrous spray tanning appointment. After that, and an out of the blue Facebook message from her daughter, Ingrid, Veronica decides to skip town. When Veronica finally confronts Ingrid, Ingrid apologizes for turning her and something strange happens to both Veronica and Ingrid. Veronica learns that she can be mortal once again, but she must sincerely apologize to everyone she has ever turned. Setting off on a road trip to regain her humanity, Veronica discovers that the task may be more difficult for some of the people she has turned.
Forever 51 is a unique and comical tale about one woman's quest for redemption. The vampire aspects of the story pulled me in and the well-rounded characters and interesting plot kept me hooked. I loved Veronica's outlook and her way of dealing with the absolutely awful reality of being stuck at 51 forever. Jenny's character was a great contrast to Veronica, seemingly her opposite, but with many similar issues as Veronica. I was impressed with the many vampire origin stories and enjoyed reading about the people Veronica turned as well as how Vampires are tracked in the world and what uses they have. Forever 51 offers more than a comedic vampire romp. Through Veronica's journey important elements of humanity, forgiveness, friendship, family and addiction are explored as well as finding your place in life.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
A curious thing happens when you have the audacity to call yourself the death writer; people want to talk to you about death. A lot. This is all well and good for those daring types of writers like Mary Roach or Jessica Mitford, but for me it was initially problematic. Prior to declaring my morbid writing intention of exploring death professions during my first semester of Goucher College’s MFA program in 2008, I had little experience with death or grief, not to mention very little social engagement with the living. It wasn’t until after I finished the two years of research for this book that I was officially diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder and went through four months of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy through a research study at Southern Methodist University.
My writing life began in 2005 when I received a fellowship to the San Juan Writers’ Workshop. The instructor, Lee Gutkind, told me not to publish for the sake of publishing, but to publish well. He also informed me that I was a horrible public speaker. Admittedly that stung, but he did like an essay I’d written. It was published in Creative Nonfiction Issue 33 and in Silence Kills: Speaking Out and Saving Lives. In August 2010, I received my MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College and read five pages from my manuscript in front of a packed room without passing out.
As part of my therapy, I was encouraged to join a writer’s group where I would have to read regularly in front of a group, as this was one of my main fears. I am happy to say that I am now an active member of the DFW Writers Workshop in Euless, TX. We meet every Wednesday and I make it a point to read out loud every week.
Find out more about Pamela at her website, and connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.