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Day: November 21, 2016

“Faithful: A Novel” by Alice Hoffman

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Faithful: A Novel” by Alice Hoffman

c.2016, Simon & Schuster
$26.00 / $35.00 Canada
272 pages

BOOK REVIEW
by TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER

The best years of your life.

That’s what people tell you about high school. Remember those days, they say. They’ll be the best of your life. But zits, mean girls, broken dreams, and broken friends aren’t exactly best. Sometimes in high school, as in the new book “Faithful” by Alice Hoffman, the very worst things can happen.

Nobody thought it was anything but an accident.

The road was icy that night. Shelby Richmond was driving and she wasn’t speeding. She never was sure why her best friend, Helene, sitting in the passenger’s seat, didn’t buckle up like she usually did. Parts of the night remained sketchy, but the thing Shelby knew was that the car spun out of control and Helene was left in a coma.

Seventeen years old. Helene had a lifetime left, but she’d never live it. Instead, she lay in her childhood bedroom, tended by volunteers, visited by people who believed her capable of bestowing miracles.

Seventeen years old. Shelby believed that she, not Helene, should be in the coma.

She cut her hair completely off. Buzz-cut, in fact, and she stopped eating. All Shelby wanted was to smoke weed and sleep while her mother flitted upstairs in their home and her father disappeared as often as he could. Her only friend, if you could call him that, was Ben, her dealer. And it was Ben she moved to New York with, after they graduated – a graduation Helene would never have.

In New York , Shelby got a job and discovered that she liked animals. She worked her way up to manager of a pet store. Someone said she was pretty, so she grew her hair again, and she made a best friend. And Ben loved her, but she couldn’t love him back. Shelby didn’t deserve Ben. She wasn’t lovable.

But was that true?  Her dogs certainly adored her. Her mother never stopped loving her, fiercely. Her father tried (or so he said). And then there was the stranger who’d been sending postcards to Shelby ever since the accident… weren’t inspirational, anonymous notes some form of caring?

In a small way, “Faithful” defies categorizing.

Its plot is minimal: it’s a story arc roughly set in a ten-year period of one woman’s rather unremarkable life. Granted, not everybody does what author Alice Hoffman lets her character do, but what happened to Shelby , happens to others.

And yet, this story is singular. And it’s impossible to stop reading.

There’s a crispness in this novel that doesn’t become too harsh; instead, it’s comfortable, like an old yearbook. After a few pages, in fact, it’s almost as if we went to school with Shelby , or avoided her on the playground. We know her – and when Hoffman puts her in unique (yet not outlandish) situations, Shelby ’s actions are satisfyingly right.

Come to think of it, so is this whole book.

Mark it down; it should be your next Book Group pick. It should be on your bedside table. If you love novels, “Faithful” may be your best book this year.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin

Agenda for Keizer city Council meeting

KEIZERTIMES/File photo
KEIZERTIMES/File photo

CITY OF KEIZER MISSION STATEMENT

KEEP CITY GOVERNMENT COSTS AND SERVICES TO A MINIMUM BY PROVIDING CITY SERVICES TO THE COMMUNITY IN A COORDINATED, EFFICIENT, AND LEAST COST FASHION

AGENDA

KEIZER CITY COUNCIL

REGULAR SESSION

Monday, November 21, 2016

7:00 p.m.

Robert L. Simon Council Chambers

Keizer, Oregon

1. CALL TO ORDER

2. ROLL CALL

3. FLAG SALUTE

4. SPECIAL ORDERS OF BUSINESS

5. COMMITTEE REPORTS

6. PUBLIC TESTIMONY

This time is provided for citizens to address the Council on any matters other than those on the agenda scheduled for public hearing.

7. PUBLIC HEARINGS

8. ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION

a. RESOLUTION – Authorizing Temporary Use and Mobile Food Vendors Subject to Conditions for Keizer Holiday Light Parade (2016)

b. RESOLUTION – Authorizing Mayor to Send Letter of Support for the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program

c. Parks Funding Citizen Education and Survey

d. ORDINANCE – Amending the Keizer Comprehensive Plan and Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) to Allow Salem River Crossing Project to Move Forward; Amending Ordinance No. 87-077

e. RESOLUTION – Authorizing City Manager to Sign Traffic Improvements Cost Sharing Intergovernmental Agreement with Salem Area Mass Transit District

9. CONSENT CALENDAR

COUNCIL LIAISON REPORTS

10.OTHER BUSINESS

This time is provided to allow the Mayor, City Council members, or staff an opportunity to bring new or old matters before the Council that are not on tonight’s agenda.

11.WRITTEN COMMUNICATIONS

To inform the Council of significant written communications.

12.AGENDA INPUT

December 5, 2016 – 7:00 p.m. – City Council Regular Session

December 12, 2016 – 5:45 p.m. – City Council Work Session

Flood Plain Changes

December 19, 2016 – 7:00 p.m. – City Council Regular Session

13.ADJOURNMENT

Upon request, auxiliary aids and/or special services will be provided. To request services, please contact us at (503)390-3700 or through Oregon Relay at 1-800-735-2900 at least two working days (48 hours) in advance.

A sign of the times?

A play structure at Wallace House Park was blocked off after vandals struck. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
A play structure at Wallace House Park was blocked off after vandals struck. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

A $3,500 expense in a city’s operating budget of more than $24 million might seem like a drop in the bucket. But you’re not Robert Johnson.

Johnson is Keizer’s parks and facilities department manager, and a recent act of vandalism has him pondering ramifications that go far beyond fixing a broken slide and bridge on the west Keizer play structure.

“It looks piddly on paper, $3,500 shouldn’t keep the problem from being fixed, but it is a huge hit to us. We have to ask ourselves if we can afford it,” Johnson said.

Johnson and the city’s only other full-time park employee, Don Shelton, had to block off portions of a play structure in Wallace House Park last week after a slat on a bridge broke and a slide was damaged.

It’s a temporary fix while Johnson figures out where to pull the money from to pay for repair, but it’s also a portent of what might be in the future of Keizer parks unless a stable funding source is secured.

Johnson originally estimated the cost to repair the structure at $2,000, but the number climbed up after getting exact prices on replacements and labor.

The damage to the slide is believed to have been an act of vandalism, but it’s harder to determine what happened to the bridge. The manufacturer agreed to cover the replacement slat under warranty, but not the slide. The total for part alone amounted to $1,574. Johnson also doesn’t want to void the remaining warranty on the play structure, which means a licensed installer has to perform the repair. Labor will cost another $1,900.

There is no excess within the parks budget. The general fund, which the city uses to pay for police and parks among other expenses, does have a contingency component but fixing a play structure using those reserves falls far down on the list of priorities.

Johnson could use money from a match grant fund for parks improvements, but that would pull money away from other potential projects that serve to engage residents in park ownership. A $5,000 match grant was awarded last year to rehabilitate Carlson Skate Park, but the project fell through. The money was rolled over into the matching grant fund this year and Johnson is loathe to use it for another purpose. City officials are hoping someone with a plan to fix the issues at the skate park comes forward.

“What it comes down to is operating funds and seasonal temporary hires. I watch my spending already, and I would have to go without something. It doesn’t hit me this second, but I have to prepare for what’s down the line,” Johnson said.

If he cuts back on hours for seasonal hires, it will mean he and Shelton have to scramble to make up the difference when park usage kicks into full gear next spring.

Another option is holding off on equipment purchases. He was hoping to get a new mower, blower and trimmer in June 2017 with any funds he managed to save during the rest of the year. Repairing the Wallace House Play structure would make that more unlikely.

“If one of our current machines blows up or goes out of service, we won’t have the tools to do the job,” Johnson said.

A wind storm that took down several trees in Keizer parks requiring a tree service to step in also took a chunk out of what he hoped to be saving toward the purchases.

As of Nov. 14, Johnson was still weighing his options and the play structure was still blocked off.