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The Things I Know Best

A Novel

The Things I Know Best by Lynne Hinton
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The townsfolk in Pleasant Cross, North Carolina, carry a healthy suspicion of the three generations of Ivy women. Each Ivy woman has been blessed with the gift of Knowing, but it's eighteen-year-old Tessa and her unique powers that cause folks to raise their eyebrows. When Rev. Renfrow and his son, Sterling, roll into town with their Airstream trailer and special brand of faith, things will never be the same, as a tragic secret is uncovered and the Ivy women learn the true meaning of kinship and hope.

HarperCollins; May 2009
176 pages; ISBN 9780061945922
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Title: The Things I Know Best
Author: Lynne Hinton
 
Excerpt

Chapter One

Tiny pieces of myself floated to the top glass, and I began to read my future in tea leaves. Mama and the preacher in the cabin by Sandy Creek, Liddy standing at the Trailways station near a bus going to Atlanta, Mr. Jenkins and the cut of his small, dark eyes, and some union of colors I don't yet recognize. Scrap by scrap, they all danced along the lip like memories in the wake of death. As they brooded and twitched, I stared down into my tomorrow wondering if I should drink from the cup or run to the sink and pour it out.

Reading hands is my sister's means of Knowing. Tiny crooked lines leading up and down, front to back, thumb to wrist, these are the roads she travels. Her fingers hot on your skin, she'll close her eyes, go all blind-looking, her lips counting marks, measuring curves and stops. She can give you the first letter of your lover's last name and open up the secrets of your heart. She's been touching palms since she was a little girl, understanding the life and death that people clutch in their fists in the name of love. By the time she turned nine, everybody in town knew she had the gift.

In spite of our recognizing it at such an early age, though, nobody treated her any more special than they did me. In our family, Knowing is a common sense; and even before I was sure like today that I had it, I knew stuff. All of the women have some form of it. Grandma Pinot interprets the sky, predicts weather patterns, upcoming anomalies, drought, that sort of thing.

Aunt Doris reads dreams and can tell a pregnant woman the sex of her unborn child. Great-grandmother Lodie could heal troublesome ailments and call out evil spirits from the sick and cursed. And her mother before her, Big Lucille, was known to associate with ghosts.

All of the Ivy women have a little something extra that causes the people in town to have a healthy suspicion of our family. So the fact that I now see snatches of another day's events in my afternoon drink isn't frightening or alien; it merely establishes my gift in the parade of women who birthed me and brought me up.

Aunt Doris asked me when I was thirteen and had just started my period if I'd had any special dreams on the night before I'd seen blood. I thought back to what I'd dreamed: I remembered the softness of the ocean, the too-white tips of the waves; I saw myself swimming beneath the rocks and craggy coral with only one long, deep breath, felt a soft-finned dolphin rubbing against my thigh. But I didn't find it unusual enough to mention, since I'd had the dream twice beforeboth times marking some girlish passage. I shook my head no.

"Never you mind," she said, a cigarette balanced on her bottom lip. "You will Know best."

I suppose it would seem to any ordinary person that Knowing would make the women in our family rich or smart or at the very least well respected; but the truth is the Knowing hasn't given us anything extra. It seems, in fact, to have created a curse. All the Ivy women lean towards making bad decisions, especially when it comes to money and men. And just as we have accepted the ways we all Know, we also have accepted each other's poor choices in husbands and fathers for our children.

Daddy left when me and Liddy turned seven. Grandma came in the kitchen talking about the windstorm that was coming up while Liddy and Mama and me sat around the table watching the candles burn into the cake.

"JayDee left," Mama said, the words all square and neat. Then she blew out our candles. All fourteen of them in one quick, heavy breath. Liddy looked into her hands like she should have known, mad that she hadn't blown first. I just stuck my fingers into the side of the cake and pulled out the thickest pink rose.

I still remember the sweetness of the icing as it slid down my throat, and my mama's one lone tear snaking down her face.

"He ain't worth your water, Bertie," Grandma said as she reached into her pocket and pulled out a handkerchief Handing it over, she added, "He had bad blood."

coral with only one long, deep breath, felt a soft-finned dolphin rubbing against my thigh. But I didn't find it unusual enough to mention, since I'd had the dream twice beforeboth times marking some girlish passage. I shook my head no.

"Never you mind," she said, a cigarette balanced on her bottom lip. "You will Know best."

I suppose it would seem to any ordinary person that Knowing would make the women in our family rich or smart or at the very least well respected; but the truth is the Knowing hasn't given us anything extra. It seems, in fact, to have created a curse. All the Ivy women lean towards making bad decisions, especially when it comes to money and men. And just as we have accepted the ways we all Know, we also have accepted each other's poor choices in husbands and fathers for our children.

Daddy left when me and Liddy turned seven. Grandma came in the kitchen talking about the windstorm that was coming up while Liddy and Mama and me sat around the table watching the candles burn into the cake.

"JayDee left," Mama said, the words all square and neat. Then she blew out our candles. All fourteen of them in one quick, heavy breath. Liddy looked into her hands like she should have known, mad that she hadn't blown first. I just stuck my fingers into...
ISBNs
0061945927
9780061945922
9780061945939
9780061945946
9780061945984
9780062517289